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Interracial Marriages Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 24th, 2019

Introduction

Interracial marriages occur when people from different races marry. Such exogamous marriages result in interracial couples. Such couples bear children who are characterized by mixed races. In America, the High Court legalized interracial marriages in 1967 when crossbreeding rulings were adopted.

Interracial laws were quickly adopted by most of the states in the US. Today, interracial marriages are legal and generally allowed across the federation. Over nine million multiracial Americans form 5.6% of the total American population.

As Burton, Bonilla-Silva, Ray, Buckelew, and Freeman (2010) reveal, the most common interracial couples involve Asians and Whites, Blacks and Whites, Native Americans and Asians, Native Americans and Whites, and Native Americans and Blacks.

In the US, white Americans are less likely to engage in interracial marriages. However, interracial children who result from marriages between white husbands and other races are more since whites are the majority. This paper presents the subject of interracial marriages in the US.

However, it will begin by presenting several myths that people have established concerning such marriages in the US.

Myths and Stereotypes on Interracial Couples/Marriages

About 2.1% of white married women have husbands from other races. In the same way, 10% of black men are married to spouses from other races while 29% of Asian Americans have white spouses (McClain, 2011). The percentage of marriages between Asians and Black Americans is 19%.

Hispanics who are identified with native whites are also more likely to marry Hispanic white spouses. About 14.6% of fresh matrimonial ceremonies in America are witnessed in couples from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

This observation implies a probable increase in interracial children as time progresses based on the current increasing number of children from Asian and White parents, Asian and Black parents, Blacks and White parents, Native Americans and White parents, Native Americans and Black parents, and Asian and Black parents.

Because of the increased interracial children in the US, it is projected that the future of this federation will witness a doubling of the number of interracial population.

Various myths and stereotypes have existed over the years while others have just come up with the increase in interracial marriages, couples, and families across the world, particularly in the US. Some of the common myths about interracial marriages include:

Interracial Marriages involve Blacks and Whites

People presuppose that interracial unions occur between two races, namely the black and white races (Burton et al., 2010). The stereotype further implies the existence of only two races in the world where one can only be either a black or a white.

Therefore, other races of the world such as the Asians are wrongly generalized and classified in this notion. This notion is wrongly upheld since interracial connections involve different races. Hence, interracial marriages can happen and/or involve people of varied races (Schlabach, 2013).

For instance, they can happen to Asians and Blacks, Native Americans and Asians, Native Americans and Blacks, Hispanic Americans and Arabs, Arabs and Africans, Blacks and Whites, or Native Americans and Whites. Any marriage between people of different races can be regarded as an interracial marriage.

People in Interracial Marriages Hate Themselves

The myth that interracial spouses have a hatred for their own race is misleading (McClain, 2011). It is also generally assumed that these people marry from a different race since they do not want children who are purely from their race.

Therefore, interracial marriage is stereotyped to be done for convenience purposes, for example, to gratify the need of being more like a strange race, rather than one’s race. It is also generally assumed that people in interracial marriages never date people from their race.

This presumption develops a notion that those who prefer interracial marriages hate their race. In the same way, it is assumed that Whites who marry from other races, for example, Africans, Arabs, and Asians do so out of their revulsion for the white race.

However, people who marry from different races have no hatred for their race. Rather, they experience love sparks for people who happen to be from other races. In fact, some renowned African-Americans who marry from different races end up fighting for the rights of people from their race.

Justice Thurgood Marshall from the US is a working example to illustrate this claim. Moreover, although people in interracial marriages/families marry from different races, they continue to live amongst their race. This phenomenon is common in black Americans who have married Whites or Asians.

Minorities in Interracial Marriages intend to uplift their Social Status

A general stereotype has been held that minorities, for example, the black Americans who are married to the Whites hate their origin (McClain, 2011). Therefore, it is generalized that minorities marry people from the white race to uplift their social status.

Others assert that they are social climbers who want their children to acquire the status of the Whites. However, although some minorities in the US may particularly be married to white people to acquire certain social status, many minorities marry whites for other reasons other than social status (Killian, 2012).

In such cases, interracial marriage is purely based on love just like the case of people of a similar social status. Fredrick Douglass was a black American who married a white. He upheld the perception that all races are equal in terms of status.

Douglass’ marriage between different races is meant for the same reasons such as companionship and bearing of children just as it happens in intra-racial marriages. Therefore, it is wrong to stereotype the intentions of minorities in interracial marriages.

Whites in Interracial Marriages are Rebellious

An over-generalization has been established that Whites who end up marrying from other races are rebellious people. The assumption is that such Whites marry from other races that are deemed inferior to the white race with an intention of rebelling against their parents and relatives (Schlabach, 2013).

The stereotype is that no white parents want their children to marry from other races since all other races are inferior to them. With such a myth, people claim that Whites who marry from other races do so to prove their rebellion to their relatives. Others hold that some Whites marry from other races to test the reactions of their parents.

However, interracial marriages cannot prove the degree of rebellion in a person. Interracial marriages happen for the same reasons that guide intra-racial marriages. Love guides them.

Significant Issues and Concerns of Interracial Couples

Marriage and Religion

Concerns in interracial marriages include the varying religious beliefs, rebellion, violence, personality, culture, and parenting. Issues of religion are pertinent in interracial marriages (Kenney & Kenney, 2012). Since the couple comes from different races, it is likely that they have different religious beliefs.

For example, an Asian man may hold Hindu religious beliefs while a white woman may pledge allegiance to Christian religious beliefs. When such a couple settles down in marriage to the extent of having children, it will be difficult to orientate the children to a particular religion.

Although the couple may agree on the freedom of worship, guiding the children and ensuring that they have strong religious background may be difficult. In some cases, religious differences in interracial marriages result in conflicts.

It is also common among interracial couples for one spouse to believe and act as if his or her race is superior to that of the other partner. In such cases, such a partner may also believe that his or her religion is superior and that children should be taught to ascribe to the finer faith only.

Matters of religion and faith regulate the values to which the children ascribe. Values that are taught to children at a young age will also affect their personality (Kenney & Kenney, 2012).

Rebellion

Nadal, Sriken, Davidoff, Wong, and McLean (2013) assert that an individual who is against the spouses’ respective races often considers interracial marriages an act of rebellion. Insurgence is also manifested through the rejection of relatives.

People who marry from other races are likely to be rejected or isolated from their relatives (Lorenzo-Blanco, Bares & Delva, 2013). Interracial marriages are stereotyped as acts of rebelling from the norm. People who engage in them are also segregated.

This situation has been witnessed severally in the US, especially when interracial activists marry from other races. Such activists mainly face rejection and disapproval from relatives and friends.

Interracial Marriages and Violence

Interracial marriages have also been associated with violence (McClain, 2011). The fact that there was racial segregation in the US in the past still makes interracial marriages a challenge. During the racial conflicts, Blacks and Whites in the US could not mix in buses, trains, places of work, hospitals, and schools (Kenney & Kenney, 2012).

Because of this racial segregation, African-Americans were isolated and punished while the Whites raped their (African-Americans) women. The most challenging form of interracial violence is slavery. Some of the black Americans still hold on to the painful past and stereotypes of Whites as violent people.

The past relationship between Whites and Blacks still lingers in the minds of many people. Isolated cases of racial violence continue to occur in the US. Whenever such cases occur, couples in interracial marriages find themselves leaning on their racial inclinations. This situation may result in conflicts and violence.

Cultural Differences

Cultural differences are a major issue in interracial marriages. Interracial spouses come from different systems of beliefs and values. Therefore, the backgrounds of such couples come into play in their relationships. For example, the Whites have a cultural background that differs from that of the Asians, Natives, and African-Americans.

It is expected that when an African-American marries a White, there is a likelihood of cultural differences. Cultural differences may become a major issue when one spouse and his or her people believe that their culture is superior to that of others (Kenney & Kenney, 2012).

Issues of food, holidays, clothing, language, and even religion also come into play in intercultural marriages. Prejudices and cultural superiority are common in interracial marriages.

Parenting

Lorenzo-Blanco et al. (2013) present parenting as an issue that repeatedly comes to the front in interracial marriages. To begin with, the identity of children is imperative in their development. Children want to identify themselves with the origin of their parents.

However, when such children come from interracial marriages, their identity is hard to define. In some cases, one parent may believe that his or her race is more advanced. He or she may deliberately teach the children to adopt his or her identity.

Bringing up colored children or kids who are of different skin colors is also a challenge in the US (Nadal et al., 2013). Such children experience occasional isolation and mockery from their peers.

In fact, in the US, where the Whites are perceived as a race that is superior to the Black, Asians, and Arabs, children prefer being identified with the superior race. Moreover, such children also want to be identified with such dominant and seemingly superior race.

The issue arises in terms of which value to inculcate in children whether from the husband’s race or from the wife’s side. This difference may result in conflict. Acceptance of the children that are colored by their relatives is also a challenge since they may experience rejection (Lorenzo-Blanco et al., 2013). They may be exposed to stigmatization.

Multicultural Counseling Competencies for Interracial Couples/Families

According to Gear Rich (2014), counseling couples from an interracial background calls for special competence and tolerance of the counselor. It is important for the therapist to understand and appreciate the differences between his or her culture and that of the clients.

Cultural diversity is a major point of guidance when dealing with interracial marriages. The schema that the therapist holds concerning therapy in cases of interracial relationships should be similar to that of the clients (Seshadri & Knudson-Martin, 2013). Various competencies are necessary for counseling interracial couples.

Therapist’s Cultural Influence

Kim, Prouty, and Roberson (2012) present the cultural background of the counselors as a factor that is likely to be different from that of the couple or family that seeks their intervention. Cultural biasness is likely to influence how a counselor perceives and/or reacts to matters that are brought forward by the couples.

Therefore, it is important for the counselor to search his or her culture and trace any influence that may affect his or her administration of therapy. The values that the counselor holds because of his or her cultural background are likely to affect the counselor’s reaction to the problems that interracial couples experience.

The counselor should carry out an evaluation of his or her take on various marital issues. For instance, therapists should be aware of their beliefs concerning gender roles, the process of marriage, marriage and relatives, and marriage and communication (Schlabach, 2013).

One’s family, religion, culture, and even education normally influence such beliefs. Therefore, it is important for counselors understand the influence of these factors and how their effect on the delivery of interracial marriage therapy. The counselors should also apply their clinical training skills in providing services to interracial couples.

The application of learned skills allows the counselor to pull closer to the couple or family that requires his or her services. Counselors should also adjust their beliefs concerning diversity and marriage.

Ability to Assess the Presented Issues

Marriage issues are sensitive since they involve the most important institution in the society (Gear Rich, 2014). As such, the direction, guidance, and therapy that a counselor offers to the clients should be well thought out. Various techniques of analyzing the presented case should be engaged.

In addition, the counselors should also be competent enough to evaluate the influence of the spouses’ background on their roles and characteristics in marriage (Seshadri & Knudson-Martin, 2013). The assessment of the expectations and roles of different members of the family in the cultural background from which they come is crucial.

Proper understanding of individual spouse in a marriage enables the counselor to make informed decisions concerning the issues at hand. For instance, how did he or she choose a marriage partner? Are there any sexual relationship issues? Does the spouse appreciate the therapy?

This assessment opens the way for the therapist into the hearts of the couple.

The Ability of the Spouses to Understand the Cultural View of the Counseling

It is important for a therapist to understand how each of the parties regards counseling. The counselor should understand the whether the couple has a help-seeking behavior. It is also important to know why the couple is seeking professional therapy (Kim et al., 2012).

The therapy-seeking behavior may differ from one culture to the other. Therefore, the counselor should distinguish the couples’ reactions. This plan enables the counselor to predict the level of openness and cooperation to expect from the couple.

The ability to create a good rapport and an environment of confidence is crucial in therapy. According to Seshadri and Knudson-Martin (2013), counselors should understand the various obstacles in counseling interracial couples. To begin with, they should not assume that the client is similar to the previous ones.

Secondly, counselors should not assume that all problems in interracial marriages come from minorities. They should be diversity conscious. Thirdly, they should understand diversity ambivalence where the counselor is willing to assist the client.

Finally, counselors should avoid over-identification, diversity counter-transference, and identification with oppressors.

Conclusion

As discussed above, interracial marriages have increased over the last four decades in the US. Although various interracial marriages face challenges such as social stigma, rebellion, lack of identity for children, violence, and criticism, counselors are charged with the responsibility of identifying major issues in such marriages.

The counselors should also possess the necessary competencies for counseling interracial families or couples.

Reference List

Burton, M., Bonilla-Silva, E., Ray, V., Buckelew, R., & Freeman, H. (2010). Critical Race Theories, Colorism, and the Decade’s Research on Families of Color. Journal Of Marriage & Family, 72(3), 440-459.

Gear Rich, C. (2014). Making The Modern Family: Interracial Intimacy And The Social Production Of Whiteness. Harvard Law Review, 127(5), 1341-1394.

Kenney, R., & Kenney, E. (2012). Contemporary US multiple heritage couples, individuals, and families: Issues, concerns, and counseling implications. Counseling Psychology Quarterly, 25(2), 99-112.

Killian, D. (2012). Resisting and complying with homogamy: Interracial couples’ narratives about partner differences. Counseling Psychology Quarterly, 25(2), 125-135.

Kim, H., Prouty, M., & Roberson, E. (2012). Narrative Therapy with Intercultural Couples: A Case Study. Journal Of Family Psychotherapy, 23(4), 273-286.

Lorenzo-Blanco, I., Bares, B., & Delva, J. (2013). Parenting, Family Processes, Relationships, and Parental Support in Multiracial and Multiethnic Families: An Exploratory Study of Youth Perceptions. Family Relations, 62(1), 125-139.

McClain, S. (2011). Family Stories: Black/White Marriage During the 1960s. Western Journal Of Black Studies, 35(1), 9-21.

Nadal, L., Sriken, J., Davidoff, C., Wong, Y., & McLean, K. (2013). Microaggressions Within Families: Experiences of Multiracial People. Family Relations, 62(1), 190-201.

Schlabach, S. (2013). The Importance of Family, Race, and Gender for Multiracial Adolescent Well-Being. Family Relations, 62(1), 154-174.

Seshadri, G., & Knudson-Martin, C. (2013). How couples manage interracial and intercultural differences: implications for clinical practice. Journal Of Marital And Family Therapy, 39(1), 43-58.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Interracial Marriages." June 24, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/interracial-marriages/.

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