Interracial Marriages Steadily Rising

I can’t think of a reason in the world why this trend should cease in our lifetimes.

Factoring in all racial combinations, Stanford University sociologist Michael Rosenfeld calculates that more than 7 percent of America’s 59 million married couples in 2005 were interracial, compared to less than 2 percent in 1970.

It’s hard to believe that as recently as forty years ago, interracial marriage in much of the United States was not only taboo, it was illegal. That it no longer is testifies to the fact that taboos can and often should be tossed into the dumpster of history.

The struggle over which taboos still serve a useful societal function and which do not is the side of the culture war that is most interesting to me. Proponents of same-sex marriage, the current hot front of this war, have suffered both gains and losses in the last couple years, but I am putting my money on them winning in the end. Polygamy will be the next front I will guess, and after that incest perhaps. The taboo on those last two is still quite strong. Give complete erosion a generation or two.

I think I may be in that tiny minority who doesn’t particularly have an opinion about whether these changes will be for the better or for the worse. But I believe we’re going to find out.

(Hat tip to Axis of Right)

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5 responses to “Interracial Marriages Steadily Rising

  1. Oh, c’mon, you have to have SOME kind of opinion on where those things go. Some taboos begin out of a learned necessity. Incest, for example, was learned to have created a greater liklihood of birth defects, proven scientifically through genetics to be actually the case. So as far as that taboo not being a taboo, I don’t see that happening, even in a few generations.

    The whole polygamy thing…I think the biggest hurdle there is having the connotation not be so sexist. When society starts reaching a truly level playing field, when the measure of woman is not through her beauty but her actions, and when society is not so phallocentric, maybe the taboos against polygamy will start to fall.

    Coincidentally I had written a piece on monogamy last night on bent spoon. And I have to say my gut shoves me right of center on this one — frighteningly so given the rest of my ideological leanings. But maybe that’s being a stay-at-home-dad for the past 7 years, and having gone through the struggles of a monogamous marriage of eleven years — seeing that the psychological rewards of weathering some ugly storms are huge, compared with the simple cut-and-run of diffusing the weight of long-term relationships among many women.

    A LOT of crazy psycho-social issues wrapped up in the polygamy thing. Almost as many as race-relations today. Because, after all, even though bi-racial marriages are greater today than they were 30 years ago, how individuals deal with someone who is a race other than their own is still in the toilet. Something that I suspect is hard-wired into human beings.

    Choose your categorization: religion, geography, race, politics. Human beings are painfully skilled at differentiating and creating the Other. That inherent quality is something, regardless of the increase in bi-racial marriages, that human beings are not going to erase for hundreds of years. The only change will be that the definition of the Other will slide and change over time.

  2. Well you’re probably right, those taboos may not go away completely. I do expect them to diminish to the point where society steps back and says, “We don’t necessarily condone this behavior, but we place too high a value on individual freedom to justify getting in the way of anybody who believes pursuing it will make them happy.” Because liberal thinking of this kind has been the trend since, well, since the Enlightenment. I just don’t see it stopping soon, yet I’m not sure how far it will go. Osama bin laden sure ain’t gonna stop it.

    Oh, human being are quite skilled at creating the Other; there’s nothing wrong with that in itself. Isn’t the increase in interracial marriages a promising sign that we may be learning to appreciate the irrelevance of discriminations in the contexts in which they really are irrelevant?

  3. Why stop there? Why not go on towards adult/child marriages ? Why not human/animal marriages? I love my dog and he’s male. Does that qualify me for a double? same sex and inter-species.

    Look hard enought on the internet and you can find people who support these ideas. Yes, they are taboo, but by your logic, there’s no reason for them.

    Is there no right/wrong? Are some of these flat out wrong and if so, which ones and who decides? My opinion really doesn’t matter, it’s only what is right/wrong. As to who decides, it has to be someone with more power and more knowledge than me. My lifespan will likely be less than a century and I can’t see the future. Isn’t there a source we can turn to that has a bigger picture?

  4. I can’t say I agree with some of the analysis. While I think gay marriage’s future is hazy, it really depends on whether the legislature has the say or the judiciary. If it is the former, I don’t see it as having much of a chance in the foreseeable future. It is not a popular issue with the people.

    People who marry interacially reflect I would hope some of the better aspects of society that realizes that despite cultural and racial differences we are much more alike than different. While I support this concept, it does not mean that they do not face real societal and other issues beyond those that a typical marriage may have to endure.

    A quick comment on polygamy; while I don’t support the issue of multiple licenses by the state, I don’t have a problem with a church performing a ceremony for people who choose to live this lifestyle, much the same that I feel about church sponsoship of “gay marriage”. Churches can do what they want, it’s the public license which really matters.

    Those would compare pedophilia, incest and, bestiality to either polyamorous relationships and homosexuality are off track. No studies back up this position.

  5. Randy:
    Oh, I never meant to assert that there are aren’t any reasons for the taboos we have. Through them is conveyed collective wisdom passed down through generations which should not be casually dismissed. I am interested in why and at what point society, having evaluated the reasons for old taboos, decides that they can be allowed to weaken.

    Yes, it would be nice if there was a source we could turn to that we could agree on.

    Voice of Reason:
    Attitudes about homosexuality have been gradually changing. If the trend continues, it is reasonable to assume that change will be reflected in the legislature at some point down the line.

    You know, I don’t disagree with the rest of what you said. There are real issues involved with interracial relationships that makes this kind of marriage statistically much more likely to fail. I had meant to touch on that point to demonstrate that this taboo, also, served an arguable societal function.

    Although I did not draw a distinction between private behavior and public license (I aimed merely to examine the trend of societal taboos in decline) doing so would certainly put these issues in a different light, one under which I do have some concrete opinions.

    In fact, due to way the legal institution of marriage is set up (as a system of incentives, not as a guaranteed right), I generally come down against the movement to try to get gay marriage in on the same boat. Does that surprise anyone?

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