You are here:About>News & Issues>Race Relations> Race and Relationships> Interracial Dating, Interracial Marriage and the Challenges Faced by Interracial Couples
About.comRace Relations
Racist Mammy Postcard from Early 1900s
Racist Mammy Postcard from Early 1900s

Interracial Couples

From Apply Now,
Your Guide to Race Relations.
FREE Newsletter. Sign Up Now!

History, Trends, and Challenges

What is meant by the term interracial couple?

Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, defines interracial couple as a "romantic couple or marriage in which the partners are of differing races."

What does history say about interracial couples?

The controversy surrounding interracial dating and marriage has existed for centuries. Most opposition has stemmed from racist ideologies and concerns, such as fear of "racial impurity."

An international issue - South Africa, Canada, Australia and the United States stand out among the list of countries that have formally banned interracial marriage - the debate persists even today. Although now, in 2005, laws against intermarriage no longer exist, opposition remains part of the program of parties such as the British National Party and hate-groups, including the notorious Ku Klux Klan.

In the U.S. the last anti-miscegenation laws were struck down only in 1967 as a result of the now infamous case Loving v. Virginia.

Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina has received lots of attention for outwardly prohibiting interracial dating and marriage on its campus. For decades, the university used biblical references in attempt to justify its position and threatened students with expulsion for breaking this rule. It was only in 2000 when their interracial dating prohibition was repealed when President Bob Jones III publicly announced its nullification on Larry King Live.

A racist postcard from the early 1900s (shown at right) captures the sentiments of a majority of Americans in its depiction of a white man kissing a black woman. The verse reads:

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

What is the trend in interracial marriage?

The number of interracial marriages in the United States, although varying by region, has been on the rise:
  • In 1970, there were 310,000 documented cases, representing .7% of all marriages
  • In 1980, there were 651,000, representing 1.3% of all marriages
  • In 1992, there were 1,161,000, representing 2.2% of all marriages
*Source U.S. Census Bureau.

How do Americans feel about interracial marriages?

For Americans, Black-white marriages tend to be the most controversial.

In a 2003 Ford poll of 1,314 Americans of varied races, 3 in 10 reported they were against black-white marriage, but were more willing to accept white-Hispanic or white-Asian marriages. Marriage between Whites and Asians, and particularly light-skinned North East Asians, is considered the least controversial. Reasons for the differences in these attitudes relate to: skin color, economic prosperity, and history of ethnic strife.

Providing a historical perspective on attitudes toward interracial couples, a groundbreaking 2001 New York Times study (summarized in the Pulitzer Prize winning series) published in the book "How Race is Lived in America" found that approval ratings have steadily increased over the years.
  • 2001 - approve 65%(whites 63%, blacks 79%)
    disapprove 26% (whites 29%, blacks 15%)
  • 1991 - approve 48%, disapprove 42%
  • 1978 - approve 36%, disapprove 54%
  • 1972 - approve 29%, disapprove 60%

 All Topics | Email Article | Print this Page | |
Advertising Info | News & Events | Work at About | SiteMap | Reprints | HelpOur Story | Be a Guide
More from About, Inc.: Calorie-Count | UCompareHealthCare
User Agreement | Ethics Policy | Patent Info. | Privacy Policy
©2007 About, Inc., A part of The New York Times Company. All rights reserved.