Interracial Marriage

Category: Sociology

The central research question to be addressed in this research paper is; what factors affect the differential rates of Asian-White and Black-White Intermarriage in the United States? American society is becoming more radically and ethnically diverse and interracial marriage has increased. However, two ethnic groups show interesting marriage patterns. Studies show that having a higher education is associated with marrying interracially. Individuals who are attaining a higher education are surrounded by those with similar goals. Asians are the most educated according to the Pew Research Center. This allows them to socialize and mingle among the educated diverse group, which boosts the rate of interracial marriage. Not only do you have to be educated but also your racial status matters. Blacks are less likely to intermarry as Asians because of their racial status in society. Because of Blacks’ racial status, Asian immigrants believe it will promise a direct path to downward mobility, where as they believe the opposite for Whites. All these factors are what cause Asian-White intermarriage rate to be higher than Black-White’s. For the purpose of this research, I will focus on the Asian-White and Black-White racial groups. The three factors that that will be used in addressing the research question are education attainment, racial status, and perceived social mobility.

Educational Attainment

It has been argued that educational attainment is one of the factors that contribute to the differentials in Asian-White and Black-White intermarriage in the United States. Studies show that having higher education is associated with marrying interracially. Those who are highly educated are not as prone to the differences of race. Higher education promotes more tolerance for differences, which makes interracial marriage more acceptable. Individuals tend to marry partners with the same educational background as them. Where else do these sophisticated individuals meet other than in a setting of similar achievers? 

Interracial marriage is most common at college campuses and professional workspaces as this opens up opportunities of social interaction between the educated individuals. For instance, individuals in the same educational setting are less likely to consider the spouse’s race before settling down in marriages. The same is the case for the individuals in the same the professional workplaces. Notably, professional workplaces tend to have employees with high levels of knowledge and skills. This means that the employees working in professional workplaces have higher educational level that their counterparts in non-professional workplaces. To this end, Whites and Asians are more likely to be found in professional workplaces than Blacks are. Thus, Asian-White interracial marriages are more feasible than Black-White interracial marriages. In addition, the individuals with higher levels of education possess skills and knowledge that allow them to emerge easily in the mainstream world. With that, they are able to attain higher paying jobs, which give them the income and resources to reside in less segregated neighborhoods. This also opens up more doors for the racial minorities to socialize among the high in racial status group (White) making interracial marriage more possible. 

According to the Pew Research Center, Asians are the highest income, best educated, and fastest growing racial group in the United States. On the same note, it is arguably true that the average income for the whites in the United States is significantly higher than that for their African-American counterparts. This means that the Asians have an upper hand when it comes to marriage with the whites that their black counterparts. Therefore, the lower income level among the blacks than among the Asians and the whites is one of the indicators or low Black-White interracial marriages. One of the key determinants of an individual’s income level is the person’s level of education. Approximately 28% of Asians attain a bachelor degree or more while only 18% of Blacks does. This differential in education levels between Asians and Blacks signifies that marriage between the two racial groups is likely to be lower. 

It is worth noting that this difference in educational levels is significant considering that Asians make only about 5.6% of the U.S. population compared to the 13% of Blacks. Various factors contribute to the lower levels of education among the Blacks as compared to the Asians. Among these factors are high school dropout rates. It is also shown in the National Center for Education Statistics that Black students have the most risk factors of dropping out of college. Once these students drop out of school, the result is that they will end up being employed in poorly paying jobs. These in turn imply that the Blacks will have lower average income compared to the other racial groups. As aforementioned, individuals will tend to marry someone of the same educational attainment, and by extension, same income level. Thus, it can be argued that individuals with different educational attainment are largely incompatible when it comes to marriage. 

 According to the government report, seven risk factors are associated with increasing a college student’s likelihood of dropping out of college. These seven factors are delayed enrollment, part-time enrollment status, self-dependent for college financing, having children or other dependents, being a single parent, lacking a high school diploma, and being employed full-time while attending college. Black students are more likely to be affected by these factors than the White students or Asian Students. Notably, because of their poor family backgrounds, Black students are more likely to take part-time jobs in order to supplement their education. This may result in school dropout as they may end up working in blue-collar jobs than continuing with their studies. Black students, who are shown at the most risk, cannot perform at their full potential because of these obstacles end up dropping out of college. To this end, more Asians succeed academically compared to the Blacks in the United States, which gives them more opportunity to intermarry.

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Social Status

Social status is another factor that is believed to contribute to the differential rates of Asian-White and Black-White Intermarriage in the United States. Racial status remains visible through the rates of intermarriage. The fact that Asian-White have higher intermarriage rate than Black-White intermarriage shows how the construction of racial status affect preferences in marriage partners. Even when education achievements were controlled, interracial marriages between a White and an Asian spouse occurred more than the one interracial marriage involving a Black and a White. This means that Black’s social status is lower than that for the Whites and the Asians. It also means that the social status is more influential in interracial marriages than the education level. 

Out of the intermarried Asians, 87% marry Whites compared to the 69% of blacks that marry Whites. Asian-White couples do not find race as an issue in their relationship. In fact, it does not even come up as an issue among families and friends even when they decided to wed. In an interview with a Chinese man married to a White woman, he states that it feels normal and that they are just like one race. On the contrary, it is a big issue when it comes to having a relationship between the Asians and the Blacks. Another interview with a white woman married to a 1.5 generation Japanese man, when asked about racial and ethnic concerns, she said that their different ethnic backgrounds was not an issue. However, if she were to marry an African-American man, it would not work out. According to her, White and Asians have more cultural similarities. She states that Asians are hardworking, ambitious, family orientated, educated, where as African American culture is the opposite. Based on the interviews, generally, interracial married couples are open to dating other ethnics/race, but when it comes to dating blacks, it is a different story. 

Interracial couples do not see any major difference between them and White, but rejects Black as a suitable partner. This leads to the “Black Exceptionialism” theme, where black minority group is singled out almost as if they are different species. These findings help us understand how the construction of racial status affects interracial marriage in American Society. . In lights of this, it is arguably true that the ethnic backgrounds of the Asians and the Whites are almost similar while there are significant disparities between ethnic background of the African-Americans and that for the Whites and Asians. These large differential ethnic backgrounds make White-Black interracial marriages less likely to occur.

Apart from the existing prejudice against African Americans in American society, there lays the excruciating history between blacks and white. The historical legacy of slavery that imprinted the black-white divide remains an impact. The Blacks tend to associate the Whites with the history of slavery and thus they fear getting into relationships with the Whites. After the civil rights movement that resulted in Black Nationalism, blacks’ disapproval of interracial relationships increased. Some blacks believe that marriage with a white spouse is an act of betrayal to their race. Notably, this could be due to the hostility that the African-Americans underwent at the hands of their colonial masters. As such, the Blacks may prefer marrying their fellow blacks than marrying then whites. This might play a role in the low rate of intermarriage between black and white. Both racial groups disagree on the idea of marriage with each other. White claims black cultural is too different from theirs while black sees marrying a white spouse is betrayal. This results in a stagnation of interracial marriage between the two groups. 

Social Mobility

Social mobility is the third factor that contributes to the differential rates of Asian-White and Black-White Intermarriage in the United States. Social mobility refers to the movement of households, families, individuals as well as other types of people between or within the social strata in a given society. Asian immigrants immigrated to the United States for a better life for them and their family. They believe that it will provide them with more opportunities and a better life. A better life includes moving up in society and becoming American. Society associates being American with being white and the whites are said to belong to the top racial status. With that mindset, Asian parents were never against their children’s marriages with white partners. They view intermarriage with a white spouse is a step closer to being American, in which they can attain upward mobility. This is because the Whites live in higher social strata than the Blacks do. On the contrary, the Black immigrated to the United States as a source of cheap labor. Some of them even found their way into the country through slavery. Then Blacks are thus more likely to be in a lower social status that either the Whites or the Asians. 

According to the report by the Pew Research Center, the couples formed between white wives and Asian husbands ranked the top in all newlyweds’ earning lists in 2008-2010. The implication of this report is that the marriage between Asian and white presents an opportunity for upward mobility in the social strata in the United States. As a result, Most Asians tend to marry the Whites than the Blacks. Additionally, the report by the Pew Research Center also revealed that the marriage between Whites and Asians results in higher combined income than the marriage whites and blacks in the country. Therefore, the Asians will prefer marring the Whites to get an opportunity of getting upward social mobility than the Blacks. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the differential rates of interracial marriages between Asian-White and Black-White are affected by educational attainment, social status, and social mobility. There is a positive correlation between education levels and the rate of interracial marriage. With higher education levels, the differences between different races cease to exist. Both the Whites and Asians have higher education levels than Blacks. As such, the rate of interracial marriage between Whites and Asians is higher than that between Whites and Blacks. Additionally, social status also plays a key role in determining interracial marriages. The social status of the Asians is comparable to that of the white making intermarriage between the two racial groups feasible. On the contrary, apart from large differences between the social status of Whites and Blacks, the history of slavery tends to alienate African-Americans from the Whites. Finally, social mobility is another factor that affects interracial marriages. Asians prefer to marry the Whites than Blacks because the former provides an opportunity for upward mobility in the social strata.     

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