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Concern grows for multiracial families as racism rises in the U.S.

Concern grows for multiracial families as racism rises in the U.S.

Multiracial families are becoming more common in the United States, however, as these increase, hate speech, U.S. racism and xenophobia also become more evident. 

According to 2020 Census data, 204.3 million people identify as white, while the multiracial population increased 276 percent compared to 2010 data, as the census estimated 33.8 million people identifying as white.

People of color represented 43 percent of the total U.S. population and according to the Pew Research Center, approximately 17 percent of new marriages are interracial.

Experts gathered at a panel organized by Ethnic Media Services to discuss the implications of the increase in interracial marriages as well as the concerns surrounding these communities.

Justin Guest, associate professor of politics and government at George Mason University's School of Politics and Government, noted that California is the leading state for interracial and intercultural marriages in the U.S. and is considered a "vanguard" state because it was one of the first states - in the 1950s - to repeal anti-miscegenation laws, even before the Loving v. Virginia ruling that successfully invalidated laws banning interracial marriages.

"Interracial marriage is very powerful because individuals can overcome the very divisive politics that take place in societies that are in demographic transition," Guest said.

He also commented that from 2010 to 2020 the number of multiracial individuals tripled and added that the number of interracial connections is growing, as well as the number of those who identify themselves as part of this community, as 80 percent of them have a Caucasian parent.

"The important thing is to expand what it is to be American and not what it is to be white, to disconnect 'being American' from being white," Guest said. 

Allison Skiner, assistant professor at the University of Georgia, commented that the rejection of interracial couples has its origins long ago due to the historical quest to maintain power.

Skiner also noted that in a study conducted by her and Cailtin M. Hudac, Caucasian men who prefer hierarchical social structures and strongly marked gender roles have negative views toward interracial marriages.

Ninety-four percent of U.S. residents approve of interracial marriage, yet the Caucasian population is less willing to enter into a multiracial relationship due to prejudice against populations of color. 

He also commented that those who do not identify as white are less prejudiced toward multiracial communities. This is because, according to Guest, "when people have a connection with each other, a common purpose in life and are on equal footing, you start to have a reduction in prejudice." 

"The increase in interracial marriages threatens the social system as it involves greater racial prejudice," Skiner said.

Sonia Smith Kang, founder of Mixed Up Clothing and daughter of an African-American father and Mexican-American mother, commented that because of her multiraciality, she knew from a young age that she did not fit into the community in which she lived because of her physique and the language she spoke, as it was necessary to "prove that she was multiracial."

"When I entered school I knew it was different, it was my first time speaking English and living in a predominantly white area so I could tell there was something different about our family," said Richard Kang, Sonia's husband and a first-generation Korean-American.

They also commented that as an interracial marriage, they went through several difficulties, because despite being accepted by Sonia's parents, it was more complicated for Richard's parents to adapt. "I was going to marry Sonia, whether my parents agreed or not," said Kang, noting that such stories can be witnessed by many people.

She also pointed out that her children identify themselves as multiracial and recognize the origin of each of their parents, as they have made an effort to teach them the culture and languages of each one through books and movies "that resemble our family", in addition to protecting them from any type of harm for identifying themselves as such, however, she emphasized that the challenge has not been within her home, but when her children leave the house.

Sonia Kang also stressed the importance of recognizing multiraciality, because even though her children identify themselves as such, school or medical forms make them choose only one option.

"The fact that people understand that and take the time to see that there is beauty in diversity has really helped the conversation about cultures," he said.

Guest pointed out the importance of facilitating contact between cultural differences, cultivating pluralism and avoiding segregation of people, but rather finding ways to relate and live together.

"We need to continue to work on the cause of racism and focus on conversations around social structure, racism, equity and justice, so there is still work to be done" Sonia concluded.

This publication was supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library.

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