Interracial marriage is on the rise in the United States

The internet is buzzing today about a new study conducted by the Pew center that concluded that the rate of interracial marriages has drastically risen in the United States. According to the study, the amount of people who are married to people from other ethnic and racial backgrounds has nearly tripled since 1980.

I don't get what the big ruckus is about!

On the one hand, it's a good sign that our society has seen a significant increase in racial integration when barely 40 years ago it was illegal for a Black man to marry a White woman (or vice versa).

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All you have to do is watch Oscar nominated film The Help to recognize the fact that institutionalized racism was still very much alive just a few decades ago. Even Soledad O'Brien has mentioned in various interviews that her Afro-Cuban mother and Irish father had to move from their original home state in order to be legally married in the U.S. And just a month ago, I was watching a morning news program where they were debating why African American men were marrying women from other races.

But on the other hand, it surprises me that we are in the 21st century and there is still such an emphasis on the color of our skin. I figured that by this time, in a country as multiracial as ours, we would have all realized that people are people, no matter how they look on the outside.

Latinos seem to have grasped these concepts a bit earlier than most, as our community (as well as Asians) lead the pack when it comes to interracial marriage. 26% of us are married outside of our race or ethnicity, compared to just 9% of Whites and 17% of Blacks.

In our case, it is especially interesting as it appears that the rates of interracial marriage among Latinos actually haven't changed much—they've actually remained relatively stable. We've always been pioneers in creating multicultural families!

Either way, I think they may have missed the boat by putting all Latinos into one box. How can you say that my marriage between a Venezuelan woman and an Argentine man isn't multicultural? The cultural differences between my husband and I are sometimes greater than the differences between my Mexican Jewish friend and her Jewish husband from New York. I also have an Afro-Dominican neighbor who is married to a blond, blue-eyed Chilean man and their arguments are super entertaining—they sometimes seem like they are from different planets!

I once did an interview with famed Chilean writer Isabel Allende who assured me that she had more in common and a smoother marriage with her current husband (a Gringo from the United States) than she did with her first husband, a fellow Chilean with whom she had her children. I can't remember exactly what she told me word-for-word but it was something like: "The most important thing to have in common is values and priorities. The rest is just noise."

What do you think? Is it important to be in a relationship with someone who is Latino or from your country?

Imagen vía boyznberry/flickr