Marriages between blacks and whites are becoming increasingly popular in the American society today. Statistics show that there are over fifty five million black-white married couples in the nation and the number is set to increase in the future. It seems that the American society is dispensing with the traditional believes which prohibited interracial marriages, especially unions between Africans and Native Americans. The opposition to whites and blacks’ marriages was epitomized by anti-miscegenation laws, which were in force in the US until around 1967, when the Supreme Court of the country decided to scrap them. The American society is slowly beginning to realize that the most important factor underlying relationships is affection or love and not the racial or cultural backgrounds of the spouses.
The guiding principle in all sorts of relationships naturally ought to be love, since this is the force that creates the bonds between the people involved. It is a matter of fact that all lasting relationships, whether they are romantic or filial, are based on love. Thus, traditional believers are selfish in claiming that men of color who marry outside their race are seeking to escape from their culture. This contention cannot be more further from the truth, since assuming it was true, interracial marriages would not last long because of the lack of love in the unions. In marriage, love acts like glue, binding the partners together.
Opposition to interracial marriages in the US has been more profound in the African-American society. Moreover, those opposed to these unions are mostly women in this community and not the men. The community is also very much opposed to black women marrying white men. African-American men, on the other hand, have no qualms about marrying white women; in fact, it is becoming more fashionable among this group these days to marry a white woman. Most of the black men who marry white women are those who have attained financial success according to empirical evidence. The grounds upon which the black community opposes interracial marriages are conservative and contrary to the principles of social cohesion and development as well as racial and cultural integration. The reasons advanced are given below.
Those black men who marry white women are seen from the African-American community perspective as being disloyal to black culture and race. The traditional belief in this community is that people should marry within their race in order to strengthen racial solidarity and promote their culture. The whole notion underlying this argument is conservative and contrary to the idea of racial and cultural progress, which can only be realized through encouraging interracial relationships across all races. For a society to progress, social integration and cohesion is a must. The best way to achieve this goal is through interracial marriages, since in this way, the differences between races that may hinder national cooperation will be obliterated. Although it is important to preserve our indigenous cultures, the mixing of cultures, as brought about by interracial unions, enhances a society’s cultural richness provided both the cultures of the people involved are embraced. There is no weak or strong culture such that one will take over the other. Instead, interracial marriages result in a much more rich culture compared to the distinctive cultures of the spouses concerned.
Implicit Rejection of Fellow African-Americans
Many African-Americans view interracial marriages involving their members as a rejection of the black race and culture in favor of the white. This sentiment can be explained by historical prejudices which portrayed white race and culture as superior to black one. Other factors that have continued to fuel this perception are the media and politics. If the black community embraces the fact that no race is superior to another and that all people were created equal, then it would not suffer from the racial misconceptions that have placed the white race and culture on a pedestal. Thus, rejection of interracial unions on the basis that the people involved are denouncing their race or culture is a result of racial inferiority and superiority fallacies.
Weakening Black Culture
When black men marry white women, this is viewed as weakening of the black culture by some members of the African-American community. This notion is linked to the idea of the black culture being inferior to Native American cultures. Otherwise, this concept would not exist. However, when people from two different cultures marry, they tend to blend the original cultures creating even a richer one.
Threatening the Black Marriage Market
Statistics indicate that the number of marriageable black men in the US is significantly lower compared to marriageable women in the same community. Thus, this market is highly competitive for black women, considering the fact that their culture is against marrying outside their race. Men marriage eligibility is usually determined by their financial success, as this indicates their ability to provide for the family. The few black men who have attained financial stability can afford to marry outside their race and are not restricted by their culture. They have more options regarding marriage partners and they are usually driven by love as opposed to cultural or racial constraints. The black women, on the other hand, are constrained by culture and race and have to compete for these same men with the white women. Their disadvantage, however, is not the threat posed by white women in the marriage market, but rather the cultural and racial restrictions prohibiting interracial marriages.
Promoting Racist Misconceptions
There has been a long standing racial myth among the black community that blacks lack pride in their race and culture. These sentiments are a result of the glorification of the white race and ways of life and the disdaining of the black race and culture, on the other hand. Hence, when black men marry outside their race, this action is seen as a reinforcement of the misconception that African-Americans lack pride in their culture and race. However, interracial marriages have nothing to do with the misconception. The best way to eradicate the myth would be through exposing the fallacy and by African-Americans taking pride in their race and culture. It is more a question of mental attitude than fact and, therefore, a change in the attitude of blacks towards their race and culture would do well to eliminate the myth.
Attitude of the White Community towards Interracial Marriages
Many members of the white community subscribe to the idea that the basis of relationships and marriages is love. Thus, many whites are not opposed to interracial marriages on the grounds of cultural or racial contamination like in the black community. In fact, black and white marriages are well embraced in the white community compared to the black community, especially with the increased social development in the US over the last few decades. Despite this, there is still some opposition towards black and white marriages among members of the white community. This opposition relates to fundamental issues that face children arising from interracial marriages. Such children are confronted with lifelong questions concerning their racial identity and feelings of being isolated in their communities. The issue of alienation within their communities is one that should be addressed, since it is a social matter. However, the lack of a clear racial identity is a more complex question vexing interracial marriages.
Children born by interracial parents have to deal with serious questions of racial identity. Such children face the paradox of belonging to different races while still belonging to none. The same thing goes for culture. Interracial children are perplexed regarding which of their parents’ culture they are supposed to embrace. As David Mura comments in “Reflections of my Daughter”:
“I have a friend whose father is European American and whose mother is a Japanese national. She says when you grow up in two cultures, you aren’t split in half. Instead, there are two distinct beings inside of you.”
This quote by Mura portrays the cultural and racial confusion that face interracial children.
Interracial children usually feel socially isolated due to the lack of a distinct racial background. For instance, children of black and white parents may not be accommodated in all-blacks restaurants and, at the same time, they do not fit in all-whites hotels. This issue is articulated by Claudine Chiawei O’Hearnin Half and Half, when he says:
“Because most people didn’t know where to place me, I made up stories about myself. In bars, clubs, and restaurants I would try on identities with strangers I knew I would never meet again.”
Traditional belief was opposed to interracial marriages because it was seen as an attempt to escape from one’s culture and race. While this was true in the era of slavery as enslaved communities, especially blacks, sought to better their social status, the situation has changed today. Nowadays, interracial marriages are an expression of love. Thus, the opposition of African-American to black men marrying white women is rather conservative. Mixed marriages are important to the US society for the sake of achieving social harmony and racial as well as cultural equality in the nation.