Archive for Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Interracial couples find differences foster communication, respect

Recent U.S. census data show record numbers of interracial couples

July 6, 2010


Antonio and Melissa Pam of Lawrence got married last November after dating for three years.

Antonio and Melissa Pam of Lawrence got married last November after dating for three years.

Melissa Pam remembers her first meeting with the in-laws.

As she walked through a black neighborhood in Mississippi, kids would yell, “Hey, white girl!” while others would just stare.

Her husband was just as nervous. He remembers thinking, “Man, what is my grandma going to think?”

Today, Melissa is used to being the only white woman at in-law events, and her husband, Antonio, is used to being the only black man. When they were married last November the couple knew there might be a little awkwardness, but they have gradually grown more comfortable in these situations.

Melissa and Antonio are examples of a national trend in marriage. Recent U.S. Census Bureau data show that a record 14.6 percent, or about one in seven, of all new marriages in 2008 were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity. Of these marriages, 16 percent of blacks married someone whose race or ethnicity was different from their own, nearly tripling since 1980.

Gender patterns

The study also showed that 22 percent of all black male newlyweds in 2008 married outside their race, compared with 9 percent of black females.

The case is the opposite among Asian and Hispanic women, making black women the least likely to marry outside her race.

Some sociologists say this is not necessarily by choice.

Kelly Chong, assistant professor of sociology at KU, said class and economic status may play an important role. Chong pointed out a well-known sociological theory called the “hypergamy theory,” which suggests that people marry outside their races to maximize the status of each marital partner. For example, black men can exchange their educational or financial capital for the race capital of white partners. Similarly, white women can “marry up” when choosing well-to-do black men.

“If one adds economic stability and educational achievement, black men become desirable as marital partners,” Chong said.

However, some sociological studies show that interracial marriage puts educated black women at a disadvantage because they no longer have as large of a marriage market from which to choose their partner.

Randal Jelks, associate professor of American Studies at KU, said that, in general, more black men go to college than black women, which leads to more black men with better incomes and an increased likelihood to marry inter-racially. Jelks expects that trend to change as more women attend college and the black middle class continues to grow.

Hispanic-white marriages

Among all new marriages in 2008, 26 percent of Hispanics married outside of their race or ethnicity. And 41 percent of the 280,000 new intermarriages were between white and Hispanic spouses compared with 11 percent white and black.

Shirley Hill, KU sociology professor, said racial and cultural differences are part of the reason for more intermarriage between whites and Hispanics than between blacks and whites.

“So many Hispanics consider themselves ‘white’ that the Census Bureau has to designate ‘non-Hispanic whites’ to count them,” Hill said.

Jessica Vasquez, KU assistant professor of sociology, said immigration may also be a reason for more white-Hispanic pairings than white-black ones. She said that as the number of Hispanics in the U.S. increases, so does ethnic and racial diversity and, therefore, intermarriage.

For three years, Jennifer Simpson, KU graduate, has been dating a man who immigrated from Mexico. Simpson said it would be impossible not to be conscious of their cultural differences, but it’s the perspectives they learn from each other that make the relationship special.

“Sometimes it takes extra effort to be able to understand each other when these differences become obvious, but we try to focus on our common values and interests rather than on race,” Simpson said.

Diego Bonsignore, a native Uruguayan, said differences in culture didn’t affect his relationship with his wife, who is from western Kansas. He said they get through the obstacles of marriage just like any other couple: by talking.

“We talk a lot — we talk through our problems, ask for opinions and give each other a lot of respect,” Bonsignore said.

In Kansas

State trends in interracial and inter-ethnic marriages have followed the national pattern. Of the 18,717 new marriages in Kansas in 2008, 459 were among black-white couples while 1,361 were Hispanic-white. Gender trends were the same as well. There were triple the number of black grooms-white brides than white grooms and black brides, according to a 2008 report prepared by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

In Douglas County, there were only two new marriages in 2008 between a black bride and a white groom, and 13 of the reverse. Hispanic-white pairings were nearly the same: 23 and 25.

While interracial and inter-ethnic marriages are increasing, so is the public’s acceptance of them. According to a Pew Research Center study, most Americans approve of intermarriage, and 83 percent of the 2,884 survey participants said it was OK for whites and blacks to date each other.

Matt Labuda, a senior at KU, said he does think about the race of the person he is dating, but not in a negative way. Labuda, who is white, recently ended a two-year relationship with a black woman, but said race was never a problem because the couple talked about it openly.

“Growing up in a small conservative town, I was a little nervous about telling my parents, but they welcomed her with open arms — no hesitation,” he said.

Despite Labuda’s experience, statistics show that older populations are still more hesitant to approve of interracial marriage or dating. Of the participants in Pew’s nationwide telephone survey, 93 percent of adults ages 18 to 32 approved, compared with 68 percent of adults ages 64 and older. Race, geographical location and other factors play a role as well.

With changing societal attitudes and increasing multiculturalism, many experts say higher numbers of intermarriages are not surprising.

Hill said it is a trend that builds upon itself.

“The more people that marry across racial lines, the more acceptable it becomes to do so,” Hill said.


50YearResident 7 years, 10 months ago

Could you post some divorce satistics of these interacial marriages? Are they higher than same race unions?

ivalueamerica 7 years, 10 months ago

I have not seen if racists add enough stress to mixed raced couples to increase the divorce rate.

I have read that families that define themselves as Conservative Christian or Fundamentalist Christian have higher divorce and domestic violence rates than those who do not identify that way.

RogueThrill 7 years, 10 months ago

There really aren't any good statistics because there are differentiations in terms of which race marry which race. Additionally, no one really studies it and when they do they lump it all together.

For the most part though, interracial marriages do suffer from a slightly higher rate of divorce but the difference is probably statistically insignificant.

Which you would know if you spent 5 minutes googling this like I did. It's the 21st Century, sir. You won't find your news in a newspaper.

avoice 7 years, 10 months ago

You do still find news in a newspaper. It's the facts that you have to go elsewhere to find.

friendlyjhawk 7 years, 10 months ago

My daughter is in a black/white marriage and the children from this marriage are victims of racial discrimination, mostly from the black relatives who work so hard to make sure these children are black and have very little to do with white side of the family. They encourage the gangsta' language and only want them to associate with the black side of the family. They never miss a chance to say something demeaning about us. This is my daughter's fault for allowing this to happen. As in all difficult (multiracial or otherwise) marriages, it the children that suffer and are the losers.

jaybark 7 years, 10 months ago

I would, if I were you, take a little bit of time to investigate and talk to your daughter's in-laws. It may not be as cut and dry as you think. Some families can and do feel as though the child's black heritage can be forgotten or eschewed in a predominantly white social group (i.e., schools in northeast KS) and want to make sure the child knows both sides of their family history. Encouraging "gangsta language" may not be what you think either. This may be the family wanting the child to feel at home by talking to him/her in the same, comfortable slang used with other family members and friends. Remember also that labeling language different from the language you personally use in negative terms casts a darker shadow on you and your values than those you seek to reprimand. Please also remember that negative words spoken about the other side of the child's family will hurt the child just as much as the words they purportedly use against you.

emaw 7 years, 10 months ago

or maybe there is some reverse racism going on here. But that doesn't happen, right? It may be an ugly truth but racism does go both ways. Why is it the same people that despise the AZ law or anything that may be looked at as racist will turn their eye when it is blatanlty obvious (black panther voting debacle, this incident, etc.) I don't condone racism in any form, just amused at the one sided approach to identifying racism.

jaybark 7 years, 10 months ago

The only way "racism", or "reverse racism" as you've called it, could be a two-way street is if 200+years of enslavement - that was quite reluctantly given up - followed by 100+ years of being treated as second-class citizens was a two-way street. I know you didn't do it and it wasn't your idea. But you can understand asking people to stop being so focused on history and "live in the now" isn't exactly a fair request in this instance.

emaw 7 years, 10 months ago

Yes, I agree with what you are saying but then where does this stop? Should we overlook racism when aimed at whites because of the history? If so, for how long do we put up with this free pass? Life isn't always fair and living in the past is no way to progress.

emaw 7 years, 10 months ago

Yes, I agree with what you are saying but then where does this stop? Should we overlook racism when aimed at whites because of the history? If so, for how long do we put up with this free pass? Life isn't always fair and living in the past is no way to progress.

jaybark 7 years, 10 months ago

It's likely a hard thing for a white person, especially one not from the southern states, to ever understand. Best advice is to just not let it bother you.

whats_going_on 7 years, 10 months ago

Every family has it's bad apples. Could it be that the reason they act this way isn't because of race? Perhaps they don't like some aspect of your side of the family? I don't know you, so I'm not assuming or trying to insult you in any way, but just throwing around ideas.

If they are being so superficial, than I must say it can happen with any family. I have had white relatives who only want the kids/grandkids/etc to associate with one side, because of one reason or another, so I think it can happen to anyone. Jealousy perhaps, or they might feel possessive. I think its pretty sad, considering that neither side is any "better" than the other.

Gabe Hoffman 7 years, 10 months ago

According to you, I'm one of these "loser" children that comes from an interracial couple. Difference for me is, both sides of the family care equally about me, and regardless of cultural differences, accept me and the choices I make, as a statement to my own individuality. Perhaps, as in my situation, your grandchild relates to black more because, frankly, that's how society views them. Rarely, do I met b/w people who share more characteristics with their white parent then black. It's not to say that's what defines them, but it is much easier to declare one race then having to constantly explain your heritage. Also, because someone's vernacular differs from your own doesn't mean its bad, or racially seclusive. I'd pay more attention to the age group of the child and see how they speak. I'm betting kids these days talk very differently than you did as a child. All that aside, there is obviously some pent up...racial tension within yourself, and until you come to grips with your own prejudices, I don't think you'll ever be able to relate to your grandchild, black or white.

workinghard 7 years, 10 months ago

I agree with jaybark about the relatives wanting to make sure the kids know about their black heritage. Also, If you have a loving relationship with your daughter and grandkids, nothing but nothing anyone did or said could come between or change that. And guess what, I have seen this same situation many times in non interracial marriages.

Kim Murphree 7 years, 10 months ago

It wasn't so easy back in the 1970's, here in glad to see some of the racial prejudice in this country is waning...and let me reiterate the word "some."

geekin_topekan 7 years, 10 months ago

Hey. Where's TomShewman on this one?

Has he become a kinder friendlier shewman?

And what about Berrypanders?

Kathy Theis-Getto 7 years, 10 months ago

I agree, vocal. I would say very little has waned, however, very little.

beawolf 7 years, 10 months ago

This is a good thing. Genetic diversity.

Louis White 7 years, 10 months ago

The melting pot society. Interesting that this demographic theory is developing as predicted.

puddleglum 7 years, 10 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

ivalueamerica 7 years, 10 months ago

I would think it would be better for Obama to define himself instead of have others, especially Tom Shewmon define him.

And I am sure Tom would prefer I not define Tom as I am quite sure he would be offended with his label I would affix to him, no matter how well deserved and accurate it may be.

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 10 months ago

Not much here on Asian women and American men.

I think this trend will grow in the future.

Marsha Lee 7 years, 10 months ago

beawolf (anonymous) says…

This is a good thing. Genetic diversity.

????We are 99.9% genetically the same.

Steve Bunch 7 years, 10 months ago

Nothing about Kansans marrying Missourians either.

CreatureComforts 7 years, 10 months ago

The article is about marriages between races, not species...

puddleglum 7 years, 10 months ago

JK- I would love to hear why my observant comment violated the tos, whilst seemingly racist stories such as this are welcome to the LJWorld?

ivalueamerica 7 years, 10 months ago

JK no longer is moderator, it is Whitey, nor whatever her name is.

puddleglum 7 years, 10 months ago

whoa, what happened to JK?

are you serious? there is someone named whitey?

Steve Miller 7 years, 10 months ago

Now lets hear about what her side thinks about all of this ....

WHY 7 years, 10 months ago

I think this story would be news in 1970. I am surprised that anyone still cares about this sort of thing. This story would be more current if it were about a black man and and a white man getting married, but then again so what.

puddleglum 7 years, 10 months ago

That is one can tell me why my comment was removed? I wonder why.

Steve Miller 7 years, 10 months ago

Because it probably had some truth to it .

puddleglum 7 years, 10 months ago

that's what I am thinking. thanks dudedog. I can't help but sense a double standard here: the ljworld writes an article about the difficulties and realities of inter-racial marriage. however-they censor discussion pertaining to observations. No, I wasn't referring to anyone in a photo, the couple look happy-that is more than okay by me. In fact I am very pro-race mixing, eventually we wil all be the same and no more conflict will come of race issues. so why invite discussion if you are just going to cancel posts that don't violate terms? Just because you don't agree with it?

wmathews 7 years, 10 months ago

Hey puddleglum -- I just responded to your message via the site. Hope that clears things up. Feel free to message me anytime if you have questions, as the message will go directly to my email. Then if I don't check up on the story for a few hours I'll have the email reminder.

Whitney Mathews Online Editor

KEITHMILES05 7 years, 10 months ago

Sadly, there are people who place more importance on the color of a persons skin than the person inside. It is this way on both sides of the issue.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 10 months ago

For a fascinating study of this and other 'race-related' issues, check out: A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America by David K. Shipler. A few years old, but the statistics are still pretty much the same and it's a fascinating read. Most of it is taken from interviews with people around the country as they struggle with their personal and social issues. As the good Mr. Shewmon pointed out, more and more racially diverse families are in the making. We will eventually all be that lovely coffee color so admired by those not fortunate enough to be born with good skin and toss their bodies on the tanning beds to achieve the proper look. Ah, we mottled pinks have such a tough time getting our tans right!

ivalueamerica 7 years, 10 months ago

what makes you think you are owed an explanation?

puddleglum 7 years, 10 months ago

uh, yeah- what waka2 said....
so there doesn't need to be an explanation ,or is it rather that there is no explanation, and someone just got excited?

friendlyjhawk 7 years, 10 months ago

Since when is good grammer, correct spelling and proper sentance structure unacceptable for anyone to use in any language? And, yes, a child is the loser if he/she must pick only one nationality to identify with in the family.

Gabe Hoffman 7 years, 10 months ago

Just as I'm sure you don't belong to any particular sect. If white person identifies as white, that's OK. If a black person identifies as black that's OK. But God forbid, if I mixed person chooses one race over another. Or even worse, if one person identifies with a race not even relates...what has this world come to.

ivalueamerica 7 years, 10 months ago

And who are you to decide and by what criteria do you decide how another human being self identify?

jaybark 7 years, 10 months ago

Again, I'll caution you from thinking in those terms when it comes to your grandchild. 1The child doesn't "lose" anything by identifying with one culture over another. It may be that the social group the child is in has more of one cultural grouping than another and so the child feels more comfortable with that identity. We crave identity and fitting in as humans so it is only natural for a child to make that decision. I will also again caution about the use of language. There actually two misspellings in your statement that cannot be chalked up to typos as the letters are not close to each other on the keyboard (although they might have been intentional on your part). Regardless, very few people use proper grammar, can spell most words correctly and use correct sentence structure in modern, American culture. Communication is an evolving thing. American English, even in it's most proper form, is a far cry from King's English, which is a far cry from Olde English - both the language and the beverage ;). To lessen your anxiety about the situation, I would come up with some fun or neat stories from your family history and share them with your grandchild. He or she will likely enjoy hearing them and will provide a sense of identity with your side of the family as well.

061708 7 years, 10 months ago

My husband is black and am mexican and we r very happy together!! I am the only mexican n his family and we havent had any problems with eachother....

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