The Debate of Interracial Marriages and the Unseen Barriers of Relationships

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The Debate of Interracial Marriages and the Unseen Barriers of Relationships


For decades, interracial relationships have been a deep seated conflict among many people and families in our history. Not only in the United States, but many countries around the world have debated and banned such acts. Although it has now been found to be unconstitutional based on the violation of the fourteenth amendment, societal perceptions, norms, and hate groups have still managed to persist. We as a country have come a long way in the past fifty years by recognizing the injustice in banning and punishing certain marriages, but there is still a definite stigma and an abundance of prejudice, resentment, and negative reactions attached to those who are involved in an interracial relationship. Studies have shown that as recently as 1991, 42% of respondents said that they still disapprove of interracial marriage (About). Further studies done by Bramlett and Mosher in 2002 had found that by the tenth year of marriage, 41% of interracial couples had divorced compared to 31% of same-race couples. In the years of 1985 to 1989, an astonishing 55% had ended (Bratter & King, p.160). One tends to wonder if these rates are higher because of the outside factors and people that are against these couples, or if this could be a reason that so many people are against the concept of interracial marriage. Some have hypothesized that interracial marriage "selects on" those persons that are already likely to divorce because of certain personal characteristics. Yet another explanation states that "these marriages potentially unite persons from differing interpersonal styles, and varying values attached to marriage and family. Therefore, maintaining that relationship may be more difficult" eventually ending them in divorce (Bratter & King, p.161-62). Many other theories have been conceived about what it is that tends to lead these couples toward divorce more than others; we will go over a few of 2

Up until 1967 with the case of Loving versus Virginia, sixteen states in the United States had laws prohibiting interracial marriage between a white and colored person. Just as it is made known through these previous laws addressing only black and white marriages, those relationships that consist of an African American and a white are still seen as the most controversial in America (About). A Ford poll from 2003 surveyed 1,314 Americans which resulted in three in ten participants expressing disagreement with black and white intermarriage. However, they were "more willing to accept white-Hispanic or white-Asian marriages"(About). The hypotheses for these attitudes were related to economic prosperity, skin color, and history of economic hardship. It is hard to determine exactly why these feelings are so strong. Many saw interracial couples as violating the "goodness of fit" belief, that these people were less likely to be compatible (Lewandowski, p.289) and also "loss of racial caste privilege”, mostly for whites (Bratter & Eschbach, p.1029). So what do these statistics and attitudes imply for interracial couples of today? Research shows that interracial marriages have an amplified risk of marital disillusionment. Many of the previously mentioned attitudes have been shown to increase this high divorce rate, but many more theories will be explored further throughout this paper.

Because of so many varying attitudes about the topic of interracial marriage, many people that are in these relationships find themselves knowing a friend or family member that disagrees with their beliefs and way of life with an interracial partner. Bratter and King say that "the negative reactions to interracial couples from strangers and 3

the diminished social support from family and friends generally characterize the experience of Black/White couples" (p.162). These couples will many times avoid community activities because of feared racism and also have a harder time...
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