The New York Times reports that a new Pew Research Study finds that interracial marriage has reached record highs in the U.S.
Intermarriage among Asian, black, Hispanic and white people now accounts for a record 1 in 6 new marriages in the United States. Tellingly, blacks and whites remain the least-common variety of interracial pairing. Still, black-white unions make up 1 in 60 new marriages today, compared with fewer than 1 in 1,000 back when Barack Obama’s parents wed a half-century ago.
Of all 3.8 million adults who married in 2008, 31 percent of Asians, 26 percent of Hispanic people, 16 percent of blacks and 9 percent of whites married a person whose race or ethnicity was different from their own. Those were all record highs.
Such trends may be detrimental to the marriage prospects of black women:
More and more black men are marrying women of other races. In fact, more than 1 in 5 black men who wed (22 percent) married a nonblack woman in 2008. This compares with about 9 percent of black women, and represents a significant increase for black men — from 15.7 percent in 2000 and 7.9 percent in 1980.
Sociologists said the rate of black men marrying women of other races further reduces the already-shrunken pool of potential partners for black women seeking a black husband.
“When you add in the prison population,” said Prof. Steven Ruggles, director of the Minnesota Population Center, “it pretty well explains the extraordinarily low marriage rates of black women.”
“The continuing imbalance in the rates for black men and black women could be making it even harder for black women to find a husband,” said Prof. Andrew J. Cherlin, director of the population center at Johns Hopkins University.
What do these trends mean for the children?
How children of the expanding share of mixed marriages identify themselves — and how they are identified by the rest of society — could blur a benchmark that the nation will approach within a few decades when American Indian, Asian, black and Hispanic Americans and people of mixed race become a majority of the population.
Still, the “blending” of America could be overstated, especially given the relatively low rate of black-white intermarriage compared with other groups, and continuing racial perceptions and divisions, according to some sociologists.
“Children of white-Asian and white-Hispanic parents will have no problems calling themselves white, if that’s their choice,” said Andrew Hacker, a political scientist at Queens College of the City University of New York and the author of a book about race.
“But offspring of black and another ethnic parent won’t have that option,” Professor Hacker said. “They’ll be black because that’s the way they’re seen. Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, Halle Berry, have all known that. Will that change? Don’t hold your breath.”