Saying “I Do” to Diversity

interracial_coupleThere was a time in our very near past when it was against the law to marry outside of your own race.

Whites were not permitted to marry non-whites, and all other minorities were restricted to marrying within each of their individual racial groups.

But the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1967 anti-miscegenation laws changed all this in 16 states. Today, according to a Pew Research report entitled The Rise of Intermarriage, “about 15% of all new marriages in the United States in 2010 were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from one another.”

How do Americans feel about this?

That depends on whom you ask. And which part of the country you’re in.

Says Pew official and editor of the report, Paul Taylor, “Minorities, younger adults, the college-educated, liberals, and those who live in the Northeast or the West are more disposed than others to see intermarriage in a positive light.”

A Wall Street Journal report puts Hawaii at the top of the list for the highest intermarriage rate of any state; nearly 5 out of 10 marriages in Hawaii are mixed. Conversely, Vermont has the lowest rate at 4%.

Kristine Smith, a Filipino-American from California, married Alex, a Caucasian, in 2008. “I never thought of limiting myself to marrying another Filipino or Filipino-American,” she says. “I have friends who are everything.”

no-interracial-marriage-symbolEven so, this justice of the peace refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple just last year.

Though he attempts to dance around the issue in the video, Louisiana Judge Keith Bardwell has made pointed statements about his view of “mixing races.”

I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way,” Bardwell told the Associated Press last year. “I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home…they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else.


How do you feel about interracial marriage?

Is it commonplace where you live?


World News Wednesday


14 thoughts on “Saying “I Do” to Diversity

  1. I have an acquaintance who is a devout fundamentalist Christian. Somehow in one of our conversations this exact question came up. He was highly opposed to inter-racial marriage.

    I asked, “Aren’t we all descended from Adam and Eve?” He replied, “Yes.”

    “So then we are all brothers and sisters (or distant cousins) – so what difference does it make whom we marry?”

    I’m still waiting for a response.

    • Just as a matter of reference, I consider myself a devout fundamentalist Christian and as I mentioned in the comment below, I’m married to an Arab (albeit a Christian Arab), but I do not believe your acquaintance’s opinion should be taken as the norm for Christians. Where a lot of otherwise good fundamentalist Christians get sidetracked is in a verse that warns us not to be unequally yoked. That verse is about marriages and contracts with non-believers, which is a very different thing from race issues. The Bible is widely used to justify almost anything, but if studied seriously boils down to two things: Love God and love others. This other stuff is all created by man (in the species sense, not the sexual).

  2. Well, seeing as how I’m in an interracial marriage, I think they’re fine. Who cares? Besides, it’s already been scientifically proven that racists are less developed brains than normal people.

  3. Is Bardwell dumb or so? I can’t believe he said that! I m glad everyone can marry everyone here. The religion might be a problem for some, but not the race or so. I had 2 relationships with Tunisian, I broke up with them cause they wanted me to be a Muslima. The hell I will. I m a Buddhist & everyone who don’t respect that, don’t respect me.

    As I said on a post before: We are all the same, no matter which “race” or “color” & we all should be treated good.

    • Exactly! Thank you for articulating the point here. 🙂 We should respect the race & religion of others, without trying to change them into what WE think they should be. Race, color…none of this should determine how we treat others. Whether you are a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Catholic, an atheist…White, Black, Olive, or Purple with Orange polka dots and Green stripes across your face – none of this ultimately matters. Everyone should be treated with the respect that all God’s creatures deserve. If God created us, we are worthy. ALL of us!

  4. I am a Southern WASP who married an Arab, in the South, eighteen years ago. I still chuckle that an aunt called me in panic to ask if he was black and if I’d seen the movie “Not Without My Daughter.” Thankfully, I managed to get close enough to my own ethnicity that my mother did not kick me out of the family.

    Or perhaps it would be better if she had kicked me out. Now she’s in her eighties and I spend my Thursdays running errands with her. As we go from place to place she provides a running commentary, “Look, that white girl is with that black guy. See those children with that black lady. Their dad has to be white. I think that Mexican lady is with that Asian guy. I don’t see a wedding ring. Do you think they’re living together…”

    I try really hard. I point out that my husband is from a different culture. I explain that things have changed. I preach the benefits of multi-cultural-ism. I tell her the real problem is not that there are mixed marriages, but that there is prejudice against them. I tell her to think what she wants, but to please keep her mouth shut because she’s embarrassing me. I even warn her that we could get shot if the wrong person heard her. But she interrupts and says, “Can you believe that Mexican is holding hands with a black woman?”

    • Jane, thank you for sharing this personal experience here. It helps give insight into an era that many of us have not lived through, and thereby have a hard time understanding. Your mother’s actions are, I’m sure, based in her upbringing during a time in our history when everything she’s saying was widely supported. I applaud your continued efforts to broaden her scope. Though it may not seem like it, I’ll bet your words will gradually make a difference. We can never, ever stop trying to shine light into darkness.

      You know, it’s funny that you mention “Not Without My Daughter.” My ‘Western Media & The Middle East” class was assigned a dissection of this film. We had to research Western relationships with the Middle East in the years before & during the making of this film, and write a paper about the underlying messages presented in this film. Quite a shocking eye-opener, indeed. One of the most sobering & informative assignments I’ve had this semester. This is now one of my favorite films, if only because it is a well-acted, deeply moving time capsule of our past (and, as it turns out still, present) views of the “Orient other.”

      Thank you for this wonderful comment, which gives so many courses of food for thought! 🙂

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