07 June 2010

Race and Marriage : New Day Dawning?

The picture above is of Mildred Loving and her husband Richard. They were arrested in Virginia for marrying outside their race and took their case to the United States Supreme Court. In 1967, the Supreme Court used their case to unanimously strike down all laws preventing interracial marriage. Their love and courage helped make this a better country.
As teabagger racism surges:
Poll shows evolving attitude
Towards interracial marriage

By Ted McLaughlin / The Rag Blog / June 7, 2010

When the people of the United States elected an African-American to be president in 2008, many people viewed this as an example of the progress that has been made in this country's fight against racism. As a person who grew up in Texas during the dark years of segregation (I was a senior in high school when my city's high school was desegregated), I was very proud of the election of President Obama. It was an accomplishment that I never expected to see in my lifetime.

While I do think that election showed this country has made progress, we are by no means in a post-racial era. We still exhibit and accept far too much racism in this country, and that is shown by what has happened since President Obama's election. His election has emboldened and angered many of the remaining racists, and they are now crawling back out from underneath their rocks and making themselves known.

What is sad is that these die-hard racists have been accepted into other political groups -- probably to try and increase their numbers. The conservatives (and their largest political party -- the Republicans) suffered a crushing defeat in the 2008 election. This combined with the recession that really kicked into high gear during Bush's last year in office, and suddenly people were very angry at government -- a government that failed to protect them and control the greed of Wall Street.

New angry groups of conservatives sprang up (like the various teabagger groups) and were instantly embraced by the Republican Party. Unfortunately, these groups accepted into their ranks many die-hard and open racists. These groups have tried to deny they are racist in nature, but all one has to do is read the signs at their rallies to know that is just not true. While all the members of these groups may not be racist, a large number of them are and in some places the racists are actually among the leaders.

Once again it seems to have become acceptable to view and pass around racist jokes and cartoons -- especially among right-wingers. One just has to view the numerous cartoons and jokes about President Obama and his lovely wife that are flying around the internet to know this. Open racism seems to be in vogue again with many people.

There are two possible reasons for this. Either we as a country are regressing to a time when racism was an acceptable way of life, or we are witnessing the death throes of this kind of open and unashamed racism (because any belief that is dying will fight the hardest and be most vocal just before it finally dies out). I sincerely hope we are currently witnessing the latter.

There is some evidence that the latter may be true, and it comes from an unusual source -- marriage. It has been known that the younger generation as a whole is not as racist as the generations that have preceeded them, giving credence to the hope that each new generation will be less racist than those that they are replacing. A new study released by the Pew Research Center on June 4 of this year shows that to be true.

The Pew study looked at the incidence of interracial marriage in the United States. The study shows that not only has interracial marriage climbed significantly in the last 30 years, but the rate of interracial marriages among those newly married has climbed even more significantly. Here are the figures:



The younger generation is simply not as racist overall as older generations, and they show this when it comes to making a lifetime commitment in a love relationship. This has steadily climbed higher over the last 30 years, and there is no reason to believe it won't continue to do the same in coming years. And the more that these marriages happen (and interracial children are born), the less it will make sense to discriminate against those of another race (especially the children who have the same family genes and blood).

But there is even more reason for hope. It seems that majorities of all races are perfectly willing to accept these interracial marriages, even among members of their own families. More and more people are discovering there are some decent and really incredible people in other races. Here are the figures (by race) on acceptance of a family member marrying someone of a different race:


Of course racism will not be defeated until all of these numbers are 100%, and they are certainly not there yet. We still have a long way to go and the road will not be easy. The die-hard racists will fight America's progress every step of the way. But these new figures give us reason to hope for a brighter and racist-free future.

I could be wrong, but I prefer to be an optimist about America's future. We have come a long way since the Constitution was written, and fortunately that document was flexible enough to allow that progress. The United States is far from perfect, but we are a better country today than we have ever been before. That's why I believe we are today witnessing the loud and obnoxious beginnings of the death throes of overt racism.

But we cannot let up. We must keep the faith and continue the fight. A post-racial America is possible -- but only if we are willing to fight for it and accept nothing less. And we must each, regardless of our race or color, do our part.

[Rag Blog contributor Ted McLaughlin also posts at jobsanger.]

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