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Study shows interracial couples at all-time high

By TRAVIS EASTER
On March 8, 2012

A Pew study released last month shows interracial relationships are at an all-time high. One in 12 new marriages in 2010 were between couples of different races. That number has more than doubled since 1980. Hispanics and Asians have the largest percentage of those that marry outside their race.

"We like to think who we find desirable is a personal choice, but in reality there are social norms that dictate who we love and find desirable," said Kristi Fondren, sociology professor at Marshall University. "I think there has been somewhat of a change there."

According to the study, 83 percent of Americans approve of dating between African-Americans and whites, up from 48 percent in 1987. Only six percent of whites and three percent of African Americans surveyed said they would not accept a white-black interracial marriage.

Of those surveyed, 43 percent said more interracial marriage is a change for the better in society, 44 percent said it did not matter and 11 percent said it was a change for the worse.

Americans between the ages 18-29 of all races are more comfortable with interracial relationships, than previous generations. Those living in the western states and the northeast were more open to the idea than those living in the south or midwest. Also, those with higher education were more likely to marry outside their race.

A contributing factor could be the openness of the younger generations in social media.

"Now-a-days, we're much more connected to the Internet, and people can meet people all over the world - it's much easier now," said Tyrell Carlton, senior public relations major from New York. Carlton comes from a biracial family. His mother is African American, and his father is Hispanic.

According to the study, gender also plays a role in who marries outside their own race. Among African-American newlyweds in 2010, 24 percent of males married outside their race compared to only nine percent of females. The pattern is opposite in the Asian community. Thirty-six percent of Asian females married outside their race married compared to 17 percent of males.

Sixteen states, including West Virginia, had laws in the books banning interracial marriage until 1967, when the Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional. Alabama became the last state to officially remove the law in 2000.

The study was conducted between 2008 and 2010 and also looked at previous census data.

Travis Easter can be reached at easter14@marshall.edu.

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