it is true that growing numbers of Americans identify as
being of more than one race, we are still an overwhelming
mono-racial population. And we will be majority mono-racial
for quite a while. In 2009, only 2.5 percent of the population identified
as being “two or more races.”
the New York Times reported
that “nearly 9 percent of all marriages
in the United States . . . were interracial or interethnic.” This
amount is more than double the percentage in 1980. It is
a growing percentage, but still a small one.
one examines the interethnic marriages between Hispanics
and non-Hispanics carefully as I do below, these marriages
seem much less like Americans moving to a new frontier and
more like Americans retreading the same ground that we have
2009, the vast majority of whites married whites. The vast
majority of blacks married blacks. The majority of Asians,
also mainly marry other Hispanics. Further, many of the
marriages where Hispanics marry a non-Hispanic are, in fact,
marriages between people of the same race.
we go into the data published by the New York Times, we need to be aware of certain
facts about Hispanic classification. The Census Bureau convention
is that being Hispanic is an ethnicity, not a race. Hispanics
can be of any race. One can be white and Hispanic, black
and Hispanic, Asian and Hispanic, and American Indian and
About 60 percent of Hispanics identify racially
as white. About 30 percent apparently reject
the Census Bureau conventions and say that their race is
“Other.” However, the Times data
does not present information about the “Others.” Only about
2 percent of Hispanics identify as black.
data for men and women are quite similar. For brevity, I
will only discuss the race of the women Hispanic men married.
In 2009, only 18 percent of white Hispanic men did not marry
a white Hispanic woman. But 17 percent of them married a
white non-Hispanic woman. Only 1 percent of white Hispanic
men married someone who was not white. Thus, the interethnic
marriages of white Hispanics are almost entirely of whites
marrying other whites.
Black Hispanic men had more interracial marriages, but still
half of them married another black Hispanic. Twenty-two
percent of black Hispanics married black non-Hispanics.
Nearly three quarters of black Hispanic men married black
women, Hispanic and non-Hispanic. Therefore, these interethnic
marriages, too, are mainly of black people marrying other
Interracial marriage is increasing. But this does not change
the fact that Americans overwhelmingly marry people of the
same race. The interethnic Hispanic marriages that some
take as evidence of old boundaries breaking down are mainly
marriages of whites marrying whites and blacks marrying
blacks. This marriage pattern is a very old one in America.
BlackCommentator.com Guest Commentator, Dr. Algernon Austin, PhD, is the
Director of the Race, Ethnicity and the Economy Program
at the Economic Policy
Institute in Washington, D.C. Additionally,
he is the author of Getting It Wrong: How Black Public Intellectuals Are Failing Black
America and Achieving Blackness: Race, Black Nationalism, and Afrocentrism
in the Twentieth Century, as well as scholarly articles in Ethnic and Racial Studies, Qualitative Sociology, the Journal of African American Studies, and Race, Gender and Class.
He blogs at thorainstitute.blogspot.com and The Huffington Post.
Click here to
contact Dr. Austin.