The Increasing Social Acceptance of Mixed Family Life
Mixed, or interracial marriages have only been legal in all U.S. states since the 1967 Supreme Court decision that ruled anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, although many states chose to legalize it earlier. Anti-miscegenation laws both defined racial identity and enforced the racial hierarchy. After its legalization, interracial marriages increased from 2% in 1970 to 7% by 2005 and 8.4% by 2010. 15% of all new marriages in 2010 were interracial.
Statistics show that whites have the lowest percentage of interracial marriages, at 9.4%, compared to that of Asians and Hispanics at 25%, and blacks at 17.1%.
This increase in interracial marriage isn’t confined to the U.S. but is increasing globally as well. In 2011, 4.6% of all Canadian civil unions were interracial ones, compared to 3.9% in 2006 and 2.6% in 1991.
Of all the recorded marriages in Australia in 2009, approximately 42% one of the partner was born in a country other than Australia. In 2005, Korea reported a 21.6% increase in mixed marriages from the previous year. In the U.K., in 2011, 10% of people were reported as having a mixed family life, up from just 2% in 2001.
Historical Reasons for Mixed Family Life
Today, most interracial marriages are freely chosen, but that hasn’t always been the case. Many interracial marriages throughout history have been the result of slavery or economic hardships that prompted people to immigrate to other countries. For example, in 1891 in British Guiana, the ratio of Indian men to Indian women was 100:63 and the ratio of Chinese men to Chinese women was 100:43.
In many cases, racial intermarriage was the result of a shortage of women of their own culture. In San Luis Potosí Mexico, 3.45% of the population tested were found to possess O-M175 which is a common genetic marker among Chinese, East Asian, Southeast Asian and Central Asian.
Interracial marriages have also been used by rulers throughout history to expand their land holdings. For example, a story called “The Seven Beauties” written in Persian in 1196 describes a prince marrying seven foreign princesses from different racial cultures. They included Byzantine, Chinese, Indian, Khwarezmian, Tartar and Slavic. Interracial marriage has also been used to ease cultural transitions during times of rapid expansion.
During the Chinese Ming Dynasty in 1368, in order to reduce violence that resulted from a clash of cultures as the country expanded, the Ming administration enforced a policy requiring all West and Central Asian males to intermarry with native Chinese females. However, this method of assimilation is not always successful. The Hui people, descendants of those subjected to that policy, rebelled against the government and tried to create an independent state in the 19th century.
Some Common Challenges of Mixed Family Life
One of the challenges of intercultural families face are differences in ideology, which includes religion and other cultural differences. Even wedding traditions differ from culture to culture, as well as how marriage is viewed. One culture may have a very different tradition of religious worship than another.
The same is true of child rearing practices. Disagreements over methods of discipline arise even in families with parents of similar backgrounds. Couples in mixed marriages must contend with learning and understanding the belief systems of their partners. Luckily, with the increase in mixed family life, there has also been an increase in the number of books written that address many of the issues they face. Some experts recommend using a list of cultural questions during the dating process to achieve a higher level of understanding. Depending upon where they live, many interracial couples also report having to deal with a degree of racism, which can also have an adverse effect on mixed family life.
The Many Benefits of Mixed Family Life
One of the advantages of an intercultural marriage is learning about other cultures. The ability to incorporate many of the best aspects of two different cultures enriches the life experience of the whole family. There are also some biological and genetic benefits in that the risks for some diseases and physical conditions are higher in some races, and those risks are reduced in children born into interracial marriages.
Finally, as a result of exposure to different cultural traditions and belief systems, individuals tend to become more tolerant of the cultural differences of others. That means that intercultural families have the potential not to just increase understanding and tolerance within individual families, but within entire societies as well. Modern technology has connected the global human community to an extent never before possible. It’s possible that with the increasing number of people serving as modern pioneers of freely chosen mixed family life, racism may one day become as extinct as the dinosaur.