The United States Census Bureau reports that interracial marriages have reached an all time high. In the 21st century it may be hard for some people to believe that, in some states, such unions were illegal only 40 years ago. South Carolina’s Bob Jones University only dropped its ban on interracial dating in 2000.
Since that landmark Loving v. Virginia ruling, the number of interracial marriages has soared; for example, black-white marriages increased from 65,000 in 1970 to 422,000 in 2005, according to Census Bureau figures. 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 (read entire article here).
Some people are delighted by these figures. Others are terrified. I’ve spoken to many Blackademics who believe that the increase of interracial couples could fracture Black identity, such as the case with Major Cox; a black Alabamian who has been married for over 20 years to Margaret Meier (a white woman). When asked about racist hostility towards his relationship, Cox responded, “I don’t feel it, I don’t see it. I live a wonderful life as a nonracial person.” Cox represents a dangerous prospect for those who wish to nurture a healthy Black identity, or cultivate Black solidarity. Furthermore, those who believe that the Black family unit is a key element to liberation could also be threatened by the increase of interracial couples. Others, such as Stanford University’s Michael Rosenfeld, believe that the surge of interracial marriages could help diminish the racial divide in this country. Is Rosenfeld’s optimism justified? What other questions do these statistics raise?