I’m interested in this because my partner of 10 years is Hispanic, second-generation American, of Mexican origin — new research shows that Hispanics and Asians are starting to marry others within their ethnicity, not choosing a Caucasian.
Reports The Wall Street Journal:
The overall number of interethnic and interracial marriages continues to grow, as taboos against it have faded significantly. An estimated 8% of all couples in the U.S. belonged to distinct ethnic groups in 2008—with more than 10% in California and Texas—a sharp increase from the 3% overall rate in 1980.
But new research concludes that intermarriage rates between Hispanics and non-hispanic whites and between Asians and whites have declined or stagnated over the past two decades, due in part to a surge in immigration that has expanded the pool of people of marrying age in those groups. Scholars call the phenomenon a “retreat from intermarriage.”
Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey for 1995-2008, which was released in March, sociologists Daniel Lichter and Julie Carmalt of Cornell University and Zhenchao Qian of Ohio State University identified trends in Hispanic-white marriage among 42,308 couples, divided almost equally between the 1990s and 2000 periods.
Among second-generation Hispanic women, who are the children of immigrants, the proportion who married outside their ethnicity—mainly to whites—fell to 16% in the 2000 period compared to 22% in the 1990s. The decrease in marriage to whites can be attributed mainly to a significant increase in the share of the second-generation Hispanic women who married Hispanics: 84% in the 2000 period compared with 78% in the 1990s.
“The massive influx of new immigrants from Latin America and Asia has not only fueled the opportunity to marry one’s co-ethnics, but also revitalized ancestral and cultural identity,” says Dr. Lichter.
It’s been interesting for us to negotiate our cultural differences — the irony being they stem more from my Canadian roots and beliefs and his American ones than any Anglo-Hispanic divide. On any number of occasions, he’s sighed: “This is not the time to be Canadian!” (i.e. diffident, risk-averse.)
I had spent much more time in Mexico, even living there briefly as a teenager, than he had. (The photo here is of our apartment building in Cuernavaca.) When we traveled there for three weeks in 2005, everyone assumed he was fluent in Spanish (he understands it but does not speak it) while it was I, the Canadian white girl, who did the translation. I was dying for caheta and churros and cacahuetes, the Mexican treats of my childhood that he had never tasted.
The whole notion of “assimilation” is interesting, as it assumes it’s a good thing. It can be, if it gets you the education or job or home or partner you want. But it can come with a price, the loss of your own culture. When I started dating my guy, I bumped into some pretty funny stereotypes from people who had not met him. The minute they heard a Hispanic name, a whole pile ‘o cliches came to mind.
“Does he salsa?” asked one. (The kind that comes in a jar, yes. On the dance floor, no.) “Does he wear a guayabera?” (Brooks Brothers, actually.)
We’re both driven career journos, both photographers, both world travelers who love French food. Our similarities outweigh our physical or ethnic differences.
The major cultural difference between us, perhaps, and one I value although it’s taken me ages to get used to it — he shows a lot of emotion. Expressed emotion. Verbally expressed emotion. WASPs don’t do feelings. Like money or physical pain, we may have them, but we don’t talk about it. And Canadians do tend to be more polite, forever terrified they’ll create a conflict.
Have you dated or married someone of another ethnic background? How is it?
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