The Generation Gap over Interracial Marriage

Once seen as an unforgivable taboo only a generation or two ago, interracial marriages in the United States continue to become more commonplace according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. New marriages between couples of differing race or ethnicity increased to over 15% in 2010, bringing the total number of interracial marriages to 4.8 million.

And while 43% of Americans believe interracial marriages are a good thing, the nation’s oldest generation remains skeptical, with only 29% of seniors approving of interracial marriage.

Leandro Fefer, a 20-year-old college student from Seattle, is in his own interracial relationship. “It’s hella interracial,” he said. “I’m a Jewish-white-Latino, and she’s black and Filipino.” Fefer, the product of his parents’ own interracial relationship, is not surprised by the fact that older generations still look at interracial marriages as a negative. “That doesn’t surprise me,” Fefer told American News Report. “People grew up in a very different society with different social views. A lot of those views are much more conservative.”

19-year-old Justin Dennis has experienced the backlash from his girlfriend’s family. “I’m Caucasian, and she’s El Salvadorian and Argentinean,” Dennis said. “She’s told me that they’re disappointed in her in that she’s not dating someone that speaks Spanish, as if she’s betraying her culture.” Dennis’s own family has reservations as well. “My grandparents are iffy about it,” he said. “You can tell by the tone in their voice that they’re not really okay with it, but they don’t want to say anything. When people are raised with a certain set of values, it tends to stick. The older generation is always a step behind, morally.”

Fefer can relate, in terms of grandparents being less accepting. “I don’t think my grandparents on my mother’s side would be very happy if they knew I was dating a black girl,” Fefer said. “They have no idea. They’re in Venezuela.”

As far as the breakdown of intermarriage by race, Asians and Hispanics each top the 25% mark, with blacks exceeding 17% and whites over 9 percent. The result is an American population that is becoming more mixed, with 9 million people identifying temselves as multiracial.

With interracial marriages increasing yearly, those that disapprove will continue to make up a smaller and smaller part of American society. And should Fefer ever be faced with introducing his girlfriend to his grandparents, he plans to keep thing simple. “I’ll just say, ‘This is my girlfriend. I met her at college.’”

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