The Many Colors of Marriage in America
Wed, April 21, 2021

The Many Colors of Marriage in America

Interracial marriage is the most profound and responsive facet of racial relationships in America. / Photo by: epicstockmedia via 123rf


It was in 1664 that the first British colonial law vetoed marriage between whites and slaves in Maryland. In 1883, the US Supreme Court endorsed the ruling and retained thereafter for more than 80 years. In recent decades, racial relations in America have progressed immeasurably since Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Interracial marriage is the most profound and responsive facet of racial relationships in America. It is the best measure to illustrate white people and black people’s feelings about each other. Today, marrying across ethnic lines has become more common and acceptable although hurdles still need to be overcome.

Interracial Marriage Statistics

The Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan American think tank based in Washington, D.C. that provides information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic trends shaping the United States and the world, reported that Americans marrying someone of a different race is five times likely in 2017 than in 1967. In 2016, a 78% decline in the opposition against white people marrying black people was registered. Similarly, Gallup, an American analytics and advisory company, reported a consistently increasing rate of approval of black-white marriage: 17% in 1969; 25% in 1973; 33% in 1979; 38% in 1983; 44% in 1991; 45% in 1995; 61% in 1997; 60% in 2003; 72% in 2004; 75% in 2007; 83% in 2011; and 84% in 2013.

The Pew data of 2015 showed that one in six Americans (17%) married someone of a different ethnicity compared to only 3% in 1967. Another study conducted by Harvard economist Roland Fryer Jr. revealed that the marriage rate between black and white people was almost six times higher in 2000 than in 1970.

 America has made amazing progress, but much more is yet to be done to fully achieve its basic belief that all people are created equal.

Overcoming Struggles of Interracial Marriages

Interracial relationships can be challenging but can succeed. Taking charge of emotions will definitely reduce interracial tension. Nonetheless, it is paramount to put in place preventive measures to avoid needless responses and outcomes.

An interracial relationship involves diverse sets of norms, beliefs, and attitudes that can easily instigate discord in a relationship. A relationship is not sustainable when something is significant to one person but not to the other. This situation can be overcome by accepting and respecting their differing value systems. Although sharing a common path is ideal, a couple does not have to connect in everything. They could, however, connect through their shared interests

It is essential in an interracial relationship to not have unhealthy assumptions about the partner because of ethnicity or race. For example, do not assume that a Hindu partner is fond of curry because curry is a special dish in India. This can be considered a stereotype and a misnomer. In like manner, do not assume that a German partner likes sausages and beer. The key is to explore and discover the actual quirks, interests, and views of partners.

There is no denying that racism still exists today. However, most interracial couples do not want to discuss it, believing that their love for each other will make racism immaterial. On the other hand, racial bias and prejudice can be a real issue especially when a partner’s family does not accept a spouse of color. Withering remarks from them cannot be ignored forever. Sooner or later, the saturation point will be reached. In this case, communication is vital. Do not allow any communication breakdown and address issues immediately. Do not be defensive but rather discuss and validate each other’s feelings honestly. Take on a liberating lens and respect beliefs to forestall tension and friction.

When criticized as an interracial couple, the two frequently become closer to each other. However, this closeness can also lead to a lack of boundaries in a relationship. Couples may assume that since they share everything, it would be all right to access everything as well including emails, personal messages, and so on. But then again, in today’s world, digital boundaries are especially major considerations as these can be taken out of context and be misunderstood. The compelling need to control a partner’s behavior may be a symptom of frustration in the relationship. It is best to confront issues at once instead of clandestinely accessing the partner’s personal messages. Keep calm and stay upright to resolve the issue effectively.

Many couples are affected by the opinions of other people, especially friends and relatives. Such opinions can adversely affect relationships. It is okay to listen to other people’s opinions but doubly so to listen more to your own inner guidance. Do not fixate on and take comments to heart.

Some people from another race feel superior in their relationship. A person in an interracial relationship may not have preconceived notions about ethnicity or race. However, there is no guarantee that everyone has a healthy viewpoint. There are cases when a partner’s remarks become hurtful although intended as a joke. Consider the partner’s body language to gauge the real score. If a partner is feeling superior over the partner of color, rethink relationship compatibility.


An interracial relationship involves diverse sets of norms, beliefs, and attitudes that can easily instigate discord in a relationship. / Photo by: lightfieldstudios via 123rf


The Key to a Successful Relationship

Interracial relationships, as all relationships go, pose a fair share of problems. However, the pressures arising from cross-racial unions can be settled through communication. Couples who talk and discover similar values and interests have greater chances for successful and lasting relationships, no matter what their skin color is.