Interracial marriage acceptance is on the rise in the US

Story and photo by ALEXA WELLS

Anti-miscegenation laws were laws that enforced racial segregation with marriage and intimate relationships by criminalizing interracial marriage and sometimes also sex between members of different races. According to Wikipedia, these laws were first introduced in the United States from the late 17th century by several of the 13 colonies, and also by many states that remained in effect in many U.S. states until 1967. Since this law against interracial marriages was repealed, acceptance has been on the rise.

Fewer than 1 percent of the nation’s couples were interracial in 1970. However, from 1970 to 2005, the number of interracial marriages nationwide increased from 310,000 to almost 2.3 million, or about 4 percent of the nation’s married couples, according to U.S. Census Bureau.

“Utah, like many other states, had a law at one time that prohibited interracial marriages. It was passed by territorial Legislature in 1888 and it wasn’t repealed until 1963,” said Philip Notorianni, director of the Division of State History in an article from Deseret News.

Fitzgerald Royal was born and raised in Salt Lake City and met his wife, Sandra Naybom in 2006 during a Christmas party at Sandra’s neighbors house. Royal is African American and his Naybom is white. They have a 3-year-old  daughter and moved to Los Angeles for work in September 2010.

“My family was very accepting of me marrying a white woman, but her family was not happy with it at first. They thought that I was not worthy of their daughter because of the stereotypes that follow. I think that they have warmed up to me now because of our daughter being in their lives,” Royal said over a phone interview.

With Utah being only 1.3 percent African American, 13.2 percent Hispanic, and 2.2 percent Asian, it is not as likely to have an interracial marriage than in other states with higher diversity.

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Patricia and Peter Cho with their daughter Nicole.

Peter Cho was born in Hong Kong and moved to London on his own for high school. When he graduated, Cho came to Salt Lake City to attend Westminster college, where he graduated with a degree in computer programming. While he was at Westminster, he met his wife, Patricia Cho, and has now been married to her for twenty five years. Patricia Cho, who was born and raised in Mexico City, also moved to Salt Lake City to attend college and now works as a reservations agent for JetBlue Airlines.

“We like to make sure that our children learn about both sides of their heritage by keeping up with family traditions that we both have experienced from childhood. Traditions such as Chinese New Year and Cinco De Mayo are a big deal in our household,” Peter said. “We travel and visit family in Mexico and Hong Kong quite often because of Patricia’s flying benefits. It gives us the opportunity to show our children where we grew up and learn about their nationality.”

Patricia often feels stereotyped for being in an interracial marriage. “I think that people still have a long way to come on accepting interracial marriage. I get strange looks and judged because I am married to an Asian and I am Mexican. My friends at work ask me why I married Peter, but I don’t see him as being any different than me. I don’t care because I love him and our family that we have made together. I wouldn’t change it if I could.”

In an NBC News story, “Interracial Marriage in US hits new high: 1 in 12,” Daniel Lichter, a sociology professor at Cornell University, said, “The rise in interracial marriage indicates that race relations have improved over the past quarter century. Mixed-race children have blurred America’s color line. They often interact with others on either side of the racial divide and frequently serve as brokers between friends and family members of different racial backgrounds. But America still has a long way to go,” he said.

Fitzgerald Royal and Sandra Royal with their daughter. Photo by Sandra Royal.

Fitzgerald and Sandra Royal with their daughter. Photo courtesy of Sandra Royal.

According to Pew survey data of social and demographic trends, about 83 percent of Americans say it is “alright for black and whites to date each other” jumping up from 48 percent in 1987. With these statistics on the rise, the US society is building its acceptance. The US has come a long way since slavery and black segregation, and the statistics are improving year by year.

“When I look at someone, I don’t really notice their race nor do I care,” Sandra Royal said. “I am just concerned about what type of a person they are. Race does not matter to me at all.”