As Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution proves that all human beings are Homo sapiens, binding to one and only one race of humanity; while races are nothing but different sectors created artificially due to past history records having no biological concepts. Thus race has no footing of its own; just a cliché being carried out since centuries having no meaning to it.
Interracial marriage is an act which is becoming increasingly common, not only towards the Western side of the world, but is now also being practiced in the more conventional parts such as the South Asian and Middle East. Interracial marriage occurs when, a life long legal commitment of partnership is signed between a couple, who each belongs to a different racial background.
It is often also termed as a form of exogamy, by which an individual marries outside their specified group of people; or in a wider perspective, miscegenation which is the mixing of different racial groups together in the form of marriage, bonding or having children with a multi cultural identity, which specifically heightens the idea of racial differences and has been recently avoided in context due to the notion of racial discrimination that it creates.
However, an analysis through the history of the interracial marriages shows the amount of rejection this bonding initially received from all grounds be they are religious, social, cultural or legal. Laws were setup in the governments of the German Nazis, Canada, Australia and US restricting such bondages from existing; going to the extremes of calling it an act against “racial purity.”
In US Anti miscegenation laws were passed only in 1967, after the case of Loving vs. Virginia; a case fought for the civil rights by a couple, (Mildred Loving, an African American woman and Richard Perry Loving, an original white American); after which the Supreme court declared the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 unconstitutional, ending the restrictions placed upon racial marriages. The court in its decision declared that, “Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes.”
In many areas of the world, interracial marriage is still outlawed, for example a Muslim woman is prohibited by the religion to marry a non Muslim man. Moreover, extremes of violence and criminal attitudes especially towards the woman violating these customs are seen in many countries such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Morocco, Syria, Jordan and Afghanistan. This violence is enacted under the acts of the commission of “adultery” by the women enforced by these conventional tribes and thus even today the acts of burying woman alive, burning them to death and abusing them is still seen in these countries.
And even though in the Western countries where the restriction of interracial marriages have been removed, they are still met up with a lot of criticism and opposition from media and many parties such as British National Parties and hate groups which include the notorious Ku Klux Klan. And over time the stereotype created against these mixed marriages have done enough to speak and advertise against such marriages, such as in the 1900s racist postcards with a white man kissing a black woman were circulated around with the following overly abusive verses typed below it which read as: “Not Particular I know you’re not particular to a fault Though I’m not sure you’ll never be sued for assault You’re so fond of women that even a wench Attracts your gross fancy despite her strong stench.” (Lelyved, 2001)
However, taking a positive attitude towards the case the rate of interracial marriages has still increased over the few decades, and holds an appreciating trend. According to the United States Consensus Bureau, 310,000 interracial marriages were reported in 1970, mounting up to 651,000 in 1980 and 1,161,000 in 1980; with each constituting to 0.7%, 1.3% and 2.2% of the total number of marriages to have occurred during those years. Whereas the 2000 consensus shows that a greater proportion; of about 4.9% of the total marriages are now being catered to the mixed marriages.
On the other hand, a lot of the stereotype towards these marriages has to be measured according to how people respond to their occurrence. Surveys have revealed that most of the Americans find Black and white marriages more controversial in comparison to any other race (Ford Poll 2003).
A ratio of 3 out of 10 reported to be against white black marriage, while they could accept the white marrying any lighter colored race individuals. While the reasons to which they would relate to would include their differences in attitudes towards skin color, economic status and their history towards the attainment of power.
However, like the percentage of occurrence of these marriages, the approval rating of them has also increased with time. As stated in the New York Times, which later got published in the book, “How Race is Lived in America?” shows that this approval has increased from 29% in 1970 to a 65% in 2001.
Moreover, racial attitudes are also elaborated in the famous book, “Love Revolution;” written by Maria P. Root, talks about the issue of how intermarriage between different races, is still a conventional problem arousing in many minds even in today’s modern world. She states that this issue is not restricted to a specific community but is a pertaining problem in all be it Asians, Hispanic, white or black. She explains how this family unit when created not only faces problems from the social side but from all jurisdictions of religion, culture, science, and even legal.
Her work stands different from all the other literature present as she in her analysis of the book supports it via interviews taken from 200 individual couples of interracial marriage. She defines the whites and blacks the extreme ends of this phenomenon, while also specifying other races. She defines the entire issue as a chase of power and the caste system, marking back to the time when the legal laws were formed, bearing to the fact so that only white females were bearing strong and powerful white males. This mix of races would blur the race of power by undermining the caste system.
Moreover, she also defines the multi cultural children produced who are unable to adjust themselves in the world, which is constantly in the hunt of categorizing individuals into specific origins alone. The book is a form of high intellect as it not only provide an elaborate reasoning to the interracial marriage but also serves as an important scholarly book to be used by psychiatrists and couples into this marriage.
At present, an increase in the interracial marriages is taken as a sign of improving racial differences which have always been a part of our society; also the positive attitudes presented by the media helps negate the adjectives formed in the history against the race difference. The sociologists thus are on the debate of whether this positivity is due to a decline in racial sensibilities or rather an indication towards lessening of social distances between the races.
They believe that the discourse of interracial marriages can be taken as the first step towards the creation of a multicultural society. A liberal columnist from New York Times, Kristof (2003), in his article “Love and Race,” while talking about the significance of interracial marriages towards bonding together the differences created in the society says that “it is an enormously hopeful sign of progress in bridging barriers.”
Some sociologists also believe that the media by portraying opening the descriptions of bonding of couples belonging to different races aims to restructure the horror images created in the past of the racial differences. Movies like “Look who’s coming for dinner,” a groundbreaking Sydney Poiter film of 1967, is a comedy of how a family accepts an interracial couple as a part of their own, play a concrete role in making them being accepted as a part of the society.
While many even believe that multi cultural children are the next generation, they show the mixing of all the races together, being defined as “beautiful children,” they disembark any boundaries of prejudice, discrimination or inferiority which might be formed by the society around them; such views are very important to hold as they challenge the traditional utopian ideas and the conventional knowledge towards racism.
No matter this encouragement cannot be completely effaced, but in order to resolve it, the history of the violence and discrimination first needs to be faced straight ahead, accepting the hard-line mistakes and then move forward towards looking a remedy for it; and as the media and many sociologists claim that their isn’t any better immediate and long term cure than interracial marriages.
Michael Rosenfield, a sociologist of Stanford University sees the increase of interracial marriages (which is in 2005 a total of 7% of America’s married couples), as a first step towards tolerance and acceptance culminating in the society. He believes that these marriages and the multicultural children help creating a more “diverse 21st Century,” which is potentially less stratified than ever. Defining the older barriers of races as artificial barriers restricting an exchange of culture and communication he states: “The racial divide in the U.S. is a fundamental divide. … but when you have the ’other’ in your own family, it’s hard to think of them as ’other’ anymore.” (After 40 years, interracial marriage flourishing US NEWS 2008)
However everybody is still not willing to accept them, as Kim an American woman married to a black named as Al Stamps for 13 years now narrate their story. They have two children, a 12 year old son and a 10 year old son, who are made to study back home, as their parents are afraid of the discrimination that their children receive for being biracial. The wife describes of how their shifting into a new neighborhood would start a “white wave” who would refuse to recognize them as their own; while their own in-laws even refuse to accept them back into the family. While some parents do take a stand to take up the challenges presented by the world by putting them up in regular schools, they are hopeful of creating a difference in the world, calling them not as multicultural but rather “global children.”
It is of no doubt now to believe of how readily the proportion of interracial marriages is increasing, also the society to a better extent moving towards accepting them into themselves. Celebrities and renowned figures such as Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter, are all multi cultural children who have easily blend up into the society. No matter the initial resistance that each one of them may have faced from the community they still were able to make a strong platform of their own in the world. Every change takes its own time to get accepted by the people and in the long run, its people who forget its complexities and adopt it as style and the new trend.
Interracial marriages would continue leaving their stereotypical view in the minds of the older generations of all the races. For example the black would find it as a threat to their identity and an act of hypocrisy by the individual against his own community with such a marriage in which he is forgetting all the cruelties and slavery that they had to face in the past; and similarly the whites find such an act as a disgrace to a self by marrying somebody of an inferior birth.
However, if we are able to resolve this issue completely then it could help bring about the world peace, as all that is in war today is over the race differences and ones grudge against the powerful sector and evil over the inferior sector. If be able to be concluded these interracial marriages could resolve the challenge of not only the races but also that of gender, nation, status and class, making one to join up with the “different.”
- After 40 years, interracial marriage flourishing US NEWS. Race and Ethnicity. MSNBC. Retrieved from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18090277/ on October 28, 2008.
- Census 2000 PHC-T-19. Hispanic Origin and Race of Coupled Households: 2000. U. S. Census Bureau.
- Lelyved, J. (2001) How Race is Lived in America? Pulling together pulling apart. New York: Times Books.
- Maria P. Root. (2001). Love’s Revolution: Interracial Marriage. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.
- Nemoto, K. , 2004-08-14 “Race Still Matters: Popular Discourse of Interracial Marriage and Asian American Experiences” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Hilton San Francisco & Renaissance Parc 55 Hotel, San Francisco, CA, Online <.PDF>. 2008-10-22 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p110765_index.html