Are there many interracial couples in America?

Looking at the complex racial history of the United States, one might be set to think that the nation’s many “races” and ethnic groups don’t mix well. If you’ve seen shows like 90 Day Fiancé (or Keeping Up With the Kardashians, really) then you have some notion about this. Here, I want to look at how people mix on more than just a superficial level. What’s the chemistry like for different races in America? How much mixing do these different groups actually do? In many countries (definitely not all) interracial couples are pretty common, or at least aren’t seen as particularly strange. In the U.S., well, it’s a funny story.

Some Inter-Racial History

an old color painting of black slaves awaiting sale in a room with white spectators & auctionees
Slaves waiting for sale – By Eyre Crowe

So yes, interracial couples do exist in the U.S.A. A lot, actually. But, racial mixing in relationships is still taboo in many parts. Why is that? I mean, it’s 2021! There are some good reasons behind this. Historically, mixed-race couples have been highly criticized within the U.S., especially between black and white people. In many ways, this combination is still the most controversial in the States, even though for black men the most common interracial combo is he, black and she, white. Still, what’s all that prejudice about?

an old photo of light-skinned slave girls, mulatto children in the American South during slavery
Mixed-race slave girls – By M.H. Kimball

You might know (or be able to guess) that this stems from times of slavery. Many black women were raped by their white master or his family members, forcing them to have mulatto children. Instead of being given more rights like in some other European colonies, the mulattos were still considered slaves. More often than not, they were treated with the same cruelty too. This is part of why mixed people or “light-skinned-ed” black people are often considered black in the first place. But that’s a different post.

Anyway, due to this complicated history of racial division and mistrust, the family of either partner in a couple may feel discomfort with the relationship. It’s not just between blacks and whites, given the historic tensions:

  • Latinos/Hispanics – mostly for immigration and cultural differences
  • Asians (especially Japanese, Koreans, and Vietnamese) – because of several American wars in the region, Japanese attacks during WW2, cultural prejudice
  • Arabs/Muslims – recent wars, 9/11, cultural and religious differences

Native Americans make up a pretty small portion of interracial couples, but they are also one of the smallest ethnic groups overall. I do get the sense that they are more mixed and integrated into American society than in other American countries like Mexico or Brazil.

One contributing factor to so much prejudice around this topic is that interracial marriage used to be illegal in several states back in the day. Since it was decriminalized in the 1960s, interracial marriages have almost tripled. In all states and almost every county, interracial couples have increased and are continually on the rise. There are some differences though.

And now commencing: Montage of beautiful mixed families

Trends & Perceptions about Intermixing

an interracial family smiling and posing for a photo in front of a house
One big mixed family – by Rajiv Perera

Interracial relationships tend to be more common in urban areas than rural areas. They’re also more common in the West or the Mid-Atlantic. That’s because those regions are more diverse anyway, so it’s a lot more likely you’ll meet someone of a different “race” in the first place, let alone marry them. As far as opinion, black people are more likely to accept intermarriage than white people are. Still, it depends on the combo.

For instance, black family’s would probably be more accepting of intermarriage with a white person than an Asian person. Meanwhile with white families, it might be the opposite. Still, intermarriage between groups like whites with Asians or Hispanics is more common than intermarriage with blacks in general. Most commonly with intermarriage, white people are more likely to get with someone who is white Hispanic. At that point, it’s less a matter of “race” and more of cultural identity.

Attitudes about race, regions where more diverse communities are located, quality of education, and employment opportunities are some factors that help determine the prevalence of interracial couples in any given part of America. All these factors considered, general tendencies with black people contribute to fewer marriage rates overall anyway. That’s stuff like higher incarceration and unemployment rates. Been to jail? Don’t have a job? It’s gonna be hard for her to accept that ring, player.

What’s “Interracial,” Anyway?

two mixed-race American kids with curly hair sitting and laughing together
Some of that pretty mixed-people hair – by Eye for Ebony

A couple of notes about race as it relates to this subject:

So, we all know about the strange American system of declaring who’s who and what’s what. Hispanics are considered an “ethnic group” of people from any Spanish-speaking country (from Mexico to Spain). Latinos are from any Latin-American country (from Mexico to Argentina, Brazil included — places like Haiti usually aren’t included). Asians covers anybody from East, South, or Central Asia (from China to India to Kazakhstan). Arabs considers everyone from an Arabic-speaking nation (from Morocco to Iraq).

Otherwise, there’s a separation between African-American and black since black could be from Africa, the Caribbean, or anywhere else, really. Whites are generally considered those with Anglo-Saxon (e.g. British, German), Slavic (e.g. Russian, Polish), or Mediterranean (e.g. Italian, Greek) backgrounds. This often excludes Indo-Aryans (e.g. Iranians, white Afghans) or whites from the Middle East/North Africa (e.g. white Algerians, white Lebanese).

All of this to say that the way interracial couples are recorded in the U.S. can be tricky. Let’s say Joe with British ancestry marries Susan with Syrian ancestry. Both could be white, but Susan would be considered Arab. Or Susan could have white ancestry from Cuba, but she’d be considered Hispanic/Latina.

Now Joe is black with deep African American ancestry, but now Susan has black ancestry from Cuba. Susan is still considered Hispanic/Latina, and their relationship “interracial.” Or let’s say Joe has Japanese ancestry and Susan has south Indian ancestry. Under the eyes of the census, they wouldn’t be considered interracial since both are from the Asian continent, even though they are ethnically and culturally worlds apart.

With that said, there are probably a lot more “intercultural” marriages and relationships in the U.S. than we might think based on the numbers. That’s why I like to use my eyes.

Use Your “Sense-us”

Based on what I can see, most of my family members are in “interracial & intercultural” relationships, and they live all over the country. I’m from a big city, so I have seen lots of interracial couples all over the place. If they’ve led to marriage, I’m sure is a different story altogether.

Because of recent growth in racial awareness, a lot more interracial couples and families are sympathizing more with each other’s identities. When a white person has a mixed black kid, it’s hard not to pay close attention to the police shootings of young black people. That’s just one example. In the end, I think this will be something that saves our nation and creates more sympathy for other cultures. The country is still pretty segregated compared to lots of Western countries. But I encourage interracial couples, we need them! Without them, I wouldn’t even be here.

**What do you think about interracial/intercultural couples? What about international couples? Have you ever been in a relationship like this? Would you want to? Comment and share your thoughts! Read more Doubts About Americans! And check these links below for more info. Stay safe out there! Peace.

Resources & Further Reading:

Perceptions & Trends of Interracial Couples

U.S. Census Results about Interracial Couples

Interracial Couple Experience

Other Facts about Interracial Couples

“Cameo Lover” [Kimbra] – lyrics for English students

Blue field with the Union Flag in the top right corner, and four red stars with white borders to the right.

*Don’t forget the video down below–>

This is nonstop baby, you’ve got me going crazy

You’re heavier than I knew

  • “Heavier” here in the sense that he is weighing on her or holding her down, in a figurative sense.

But I don’t want no other, you’re my cameo lover

  • *Double negatives. “But I don’t want any other/another…” Sometimes using a double negative can sound more natural, though, like with these lyrics. A “cameo” is a quick appearance of someone, usually famous, in a work like a movie or TV show. The guy is her lover who appears in her life for only small amounts of time, as she explains in the next line.

Only here for a moment or two

You stay inside that bubble with all of your trouble

In your black hole

  • The idea is that he is collapsing on himself, self-destructing.

You turn from the skies,

You dance with your demise

  • “Demise” is another word for death, basically, or an otherwise bad ending to life. “Dancing with your demise” is a more formal way of saying, “Playing with death.”

I’ll be here when you come home (home)

We’ve all gotta break down

  • *”We’ve all got to break down.” In the English accents more closely related to British (Kimbra is from New Zealand), using “have got to” tends to be more common than “have to” in such situations. “I’ve got to go pick up my mother.” “I have to go pick up my mother.” “Break down” here has a double meaning; to have an emotional breakdown and cry, get depressed, etc., or; to have fun and dance! Interesting, right? She is probably referring to both of these opposing meanings in the line.

Let me come and break down there with you

  • Whether he wants to cry and be sad or have fun and dance, she still wants to be there with him.

‘Cause every day’s like talking in your sleep

  • *”Because every …” The original author from the website where I found these lyrics wrote, “Everyday’s like…” I wanted to take advantage and explain: “Every day” is where “every” just describes “day.” “I go to the mall every day. I wake up early every day;” “Everyday” is an adjective and describes something that is done every day, or is very common. “I’m going to do my everyday bike ride. He’s your normal, everyday teacher. Nothing special.” Native English speakers also often get these two confused.

Love is like a silhouette in dreams!

  • A “silhouette” is the outline of a shape, usually of a person, something like an empty shadow.

Open up your heart, open up your heart

Open up your heart and let me pull you out

Every day’s like talking in your sleep

Love is like a silhouette in dreams!

Open up your heart, open up your heart

Open up your heart and let me pull you out of here

I’ve got high hopes baby, but all you do is take me

Down to depths that I never knew

You’ve got two arms baby, they’re all tangled in ladies

As the black sky’s posing blue

  • To “pose” here means to fake an appearance or to show an untrue face. A similar word is “to front.” She could mean that he feels dark or sad on the inside, but he’s showing that he feels sunny and clear like a blue sky on the outside. On another note, “pose” is also used a lot to get into position for a photo. “Pose for the camera!”

Let go of your mother and turn to your brother

Not a long gone lover’s noose

  • A “noose” is the loop of a hanging rope. He’s literally choking himself to death because he won’t let go of this past love.

Sometimes baby the hardest part of breaking

  • “Breaking” again refers to having a breakdown, being depressed, or emotionally hurt.

Is leaving pieces behind you

  • But she plays double meaning again with the literal definition of breaking; tearing into pieces.

Oh we’ve all gotta get by

  • *”We’ve all got to …” To “get by” means to survive, make a living, get past our challenges.

Let me come and hold you high, with you

‘Cause every day’s like talking in your sleep

Love is like a silhouette in dreams!

Open up your heart, open up your heart

Open up your heart and let me pull you out

Every day’s like talking in your sleep

Love is like a silhouette in dreams!

Open up your heart, open up your heart

Open up your heart and let me pull you out of here

Open up your heart to me!

The sun won’t shine if you’re not looking

Baby, love is all that you need…

When every day’s like talking in your sleep

Love is like a silhouette in dreams

Open up your heart, open, open… (open…)

And the lyrics repeat.

  • She seems to be talking to a person she wants to be with or feel closer to. This person has a hard time letting go of some past lover who apparently hurt him emotionally. Still, he refuses to let go and wants others to feel sorry for him. This is obviously weighing on Kimbra who’s tired of his downer attitude, but she also doesn’t want to leave him (I don’t want no other). He seems to hide in a bubble, lose hope (you turn from the skies, you dance with your demise), and express himself very lazily like a person mumbling in their sleep. He seems to be going through a rough time, though her words are not harsh but hopeful. Kimbra insists for him to open up and let her help, be a part of his recovery, to hold him up high, and to pull his love out from inside.

Do you think this kind of relationship is worth it? Let me know your thoughts!

Watch it here: