View Full Version : Mixed-Race Marriage on the Rise (US)

Saturday, November 8th, 2003, 06:08 AM
"White women were far more likely than white men to tie the knot with a person of another race. There were 866 white men in Oregon who married a person of another race or ethnicity in 2001. But 1,188 white women joined mixed-race marriages, or 37 percent more than men."

"1 in 8 marriages in Oregon in 2002 were interracial."

"estimates as many as one in four Oregonians could claim multiracial backgrounds."


Mixed race marriage on rise

TIMOTHY J. GONZALEZ / Statesman Journal

1 in 8 marriages in Oregon in 2002 were interracial.

Statesman Journal
January 3, 2003

In his 33 years at the Marion County clerk’s office, Henry C. Mattson never saw a black man and a white woman show up for a marriage license together.

The 94-year-old also can’t recall any black women who married white men, or any other newlyweds who claimed different races or ethnicities.

“There were no doubt some black couples, but I can’t remember any where they were mixed,” said Mattson.

More than half of his career, from 1929 to 1963, took place during a state ban on interracial marriages.

The ban, one of the toughest in the nation, was lifted in 1951.

Five decades later, the rite of marriage is a case study for the Mid-Valley’s growing diversity.

A Statesman Journal analysis of state health records shows that couples of different races or ethnicities accounted for one in eight marriages in Oregon last year, up from one in 12 a decade earlier.

Among the related findings:

•The most common unions were between Hispanics, the state’s largest minority, and whites.

•A majority of two groups — Asian Americans and American Indians — chose partners outside their own race.

•White women were far more likely than white men to tie the knot with a person of another race. There were 866 white men in Oregon who married a person of another race or ethnicity in 2001. But 1,188 white women joined mixed-race marriages, or 37 percent more than men.

The trend is contributing to a record number of multiracial children in Oregon, and to a blend of cultures, languages and belief systems that hasn’t been seen since the state’s pioneer era.

Dr. David del Mar, a professor of history at Portland State University, estimates as many as one in four Oregonians could claim multiracial backgrounds.

Most simply aren’t aware of their backgrounds, or choose not to identify with them.

In Salem, a growing number of high-profile figures are part of mixed families.

State legislator Jackie Winters, who is African American, is married to a white man, Ted Winters. Willamette University President M. Lee Pelton, also black, has a white wife, Kristen Wilson. And Salem-Keizer’s school superintendent, Kay Baker, has two adopted daughters who are black.

Dr. Thomas Wright, president of the Portland-based Oregon Council on Multiracial Affairs, points to a growing number of mixed-race celebrities, such as golf champion Tiger Woods and actress Halle Berry.

Still, Wright said interracial marriages of all types can be discouraged by friends and relatives.

Some fear changes to the family’s racial status, or they worry the couple’s children will face unwanted scrutiny. Some minorities are discouraged from marrying whites, he added, especially if older generations have seen discrimination themselves.

Wright, who claims African American and white heritage, believes those concerns aren’t as prominent in Oregon as they are in the Southeast and other parts of the country. He said Oregon’s smaller minority population makes it seem less of a threat.

A case in point

Jorge and Cynthia Cuellar of West Salem would have been a rarity in 1960.

Back then, Salem was still more than 99 percent white. But 20,000 Hispanics call the city home today, or about 15 percent of the overall population.

Marriages between Hispanics and non-Hispanics accounted for nearly one in four mixed marriages in the state in 2001.

Because Hispanic is an ethnicity — you can be a white or a black Hispanic — many of those couples technically aren’t inter-racial.

But differences still exist.

Cynthia was born in Eugene, but spent her childhood bouncing between small towns in Mexico, Columbia, Costa Rica and Ecuador. Her father was a missionary. Her family, including her two sisters and mom, were white minorities.

Cynthia and Jorge fell in love in Belize, where marrying a “gringo” was considered a status symbol by locals. Cynthia said that wasn’t the case for her. She was smitten when Jorge, a sugar farmer who dropped out of school after the sixth grade, brought her plant cuttings from the jungle.

Her two sisters also found husbands from other countries. One lives in Corvallis, married to a man from Kenya. The other, in Eugene, has a husband from Mexico.

Language remains the most visible divider for the Cuellars, even though both are bilingual.

When they go shopping with their 3-year-old son, Caleb, sales clerks often ignore Jorge, assuming he doesn’t speak English.

“People are afraid to ask questions,” Cynthia said. “They don’t even know how to ask.”

Another challenge arrived two years ago during the federal census.

Jorge was born and raised in Belize and had parents of Mayan and Mexican heritage.

It was the first year the government offered the option of claiming “two or more races” on census forms. But his complex background wasn’t reflected in the choices, so he simply checked “Hispanic.”

Cynthia and Jorge don’t view their marriage as anything out of the ordinary. After more than two decades living abroad, Cynthia said she relates easier to Latin Americans than to other U.S.-born residents.

And when Caleb is older, his blend of European and Latin American backgrounds, and his ability to speak two languages, will be an asset.

“I think he’s got the best of both worlds,” Cynthia said. “He’s got his dad to look to for understanding Hispanic culture, and me for Anglo culture.”

HONEY for mixed-race kids

Multiracial students have an easier time in school today, says Sarah Ross, a co-founder of the Eugene-based group HONEY, or Honoring Our New Ethnic Youth.

HONEY, a small nonprofit, focuses on providing play groups and social activities for mixed-race children.

“Kids of mixed heritage like to get together and socialize,” she said. “Sometimes they feel like they’re the only ones, especially if the parent of color is absent from the family.”

Support groups like HONEY are hard to find. Several non-profit groups and school committees offer minority advocacy programs in Marion and Polk counties, but there are no groups that focus solely on multiracial issues.

Linda Busey, the lone Salem resident on the board of the Portland-based multiracial council, said she sought out the group because there were no resources locally.

Del Mar, the PSU professor, says most people who identify with multiple races or ethnicities choose to live in Oregon’s more densely populated areas— from Eugene to Salem to Portland — where the climate is more politically progressive and socially tolerant.

Mixed-race couples will be well-represented in those areas in the upcoming session of the state Legislature. Three state representatives — all of them white Republicans — are or have been married to Hispanic men.

One of those is Cornelius resident Mary Gallegos, who has three children with her husband, Tony.

Gallegos said she’s learned important lessons just from having a last name associated with another ethnicity. Constituents, assuming she is Hispanic, have left dozens of messages for her concerning immigration laws and bilingual education.

Such misunderstandings may become less common as the number of blended families grows. Wright, president of the multiracial council, says a critical mass of mixed families in Oregon will help chip away at subtle prejudices and poor assumptions.

“At some point the numbers will be so great that people will have to accept the fact that there’s all these people who identify with multiracial,” Wright said. “All predictions are that there won’t be any majority races here in this country.”

Saturday, November 8th, 2003, 12:14 PM
Sobering stuff!

The only comfort I can derive from this is an idea I've heard elsewhere: perhaps the white genepool will ultimately benefit from losing these low-calibre types from our ranks:dlook

Myself, I often find it hard to supress the urge to screw up my nose from the smell of non-whites. I really am in 'awe' of whites who can actually sleep with these life forms:-O

Abby Normal
Wednesday, December 24th, 2003, 07:31 AM
Lol, same here... What could these morons be thinking? Ah, well, like you said, better to get rid of 'em.

Monday, December 29th, 2003, 07:16 PM
It would be eugenic in a way IF hybrids were prevented from returning. Unfortunately miscegenation in our current environment has a cascading effect upon the whole group, with a significant number -- if not the majority -- of Mongoloid-white hybrids returning to the white group. People's sensibilities often tolerate and even find attractive these mestizo/hapa creations, whereas mulattos are generally pushed into the "black" group, but not always (Nicole Richie, Jennifer Beals). Even pro-race people accept mestizos and hapas.