Interracial marriages on the rise across the U.S.

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Through quiet telephone conversations and code names, a teenaged Carrie Mitchell kept her high school boyfriend a secret from her family.

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Tara and Aaron Hampton wed in December. Aaron said he finds humor in what people think about their marriage. 
  Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Tara and Aaron Hampton wed in December. Aaron said he finds humor in what people think about their marriage.

Her boyfriend's unmentionable flaw: his skin color.

"He could have beat me and been white, and they would have been OK with it," said Mitchell, who is white. "I was disowned by my family, because of my racial decisions."

At 17, she decided to break the silence, and she continued dating men of other races. She is now one-half of an interracial marriage. Her husband, Celvin, is black.

Some things have changed since the secrecy required in her adolescence, but other things have remained the same.

"I see the looks and the rolled eyes when they see my ring," said Mitchell, 29. "There are plenty of long-lasting relationships, though. Our situation is becoming more common."

The North Augusta couple represent a growing number of people who share their vows with someone of another race. Nationally, interracial marriages make up 8 percent of all couples, up from less than 2 percent in 2000, according to U.S. Census data. The Pew Research Center recently released data, based on the 2008 American Community Survey, that shows one in every seven new marriages in that year were between people of different racial backgrounds.

Asians were most likely to marry outside of their race, with 31 percent, followed by Hispanics with 26 percent, blacks with 16 percent and whites with 9 percent, according to the data. The South had the second-highest number of new interracial marriages in the nation, with 13 percent.

The multicultural pairings are becoming increasingly common, but the marriages have not yet been accepted as a norm, said Stephanie Coontz, the director of research for the Council on Contemporary Families, based in Chicago.

The unions were shunned by society and the legal system just 43 years ago. In 1967, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling struck down anti-miscegenation laws, which mainly existed in the South.

The court case, Loving vs. Virginia, came after the couple fighting the laws had been dragged from their beds by local law enforcement.

The groundbreaking case evoked change, but the Pew Center's finding shows black-white couplings are still the least likely, with only about one in nine of those marriages in 2008.

"Despite all the talks about a post-racial society, it doesn't exist yet," Coontz said. "We've seen an increase with the younger generation, and I think the increasing age of marriage has made the difference. They're out on their own, so they have the freedom to be with whom they want."

Standing out

When the Mitchells arrive at Tabernacle Baptist Church, they both stand out. He's 6-foot-5; she's one of a handful of white members at the historical church.

The two met at Tabernacle seven years ago and had an instant connection, said Celvin Mitchell, 29. Growing up in a military family, he made friends with people from different backgrounds, he said.

"Ignorance was not tolerated," he said. "I wasn't looking for a particular race when I met her. I just believe love is color-blind."

Carrie Mitchell said marrying her husband in May 2009 confirmed her belief that her family's viewpoint was wrong. Though her family still disagrees, her mother now supports her interracial marriage.

Celvin Mitchell said he ignores some of the side glances when he, his wife and two children enter a restaurant. He contends that most people have come to accept it.

"It's really the people in the older generations that are stuck in their ways," he said. "There's a mentality and fear about co-mingling, but I think people my age are more accepting."

Common bond

Tara Hampton said her mother still laughs when they speak of her husband, Aaron.

"She jokes about her white son-in-law," said Hampton, who is black. "I would say she was from the old South, but she doesn't have an issue with it."

Aaron Hampton, 23, said he finds humor in people's fascination with their union.

The Hephzibah couple began dating in 2007 and married in December. Both agree it still feels like the first date.

"We just make each other laugh. He's always so affectionate," Tara Hampton said. "If you find someone who makes you happy, you have to hold on to that."

She said she has had friends say they accept her marriage but that they would never date or marry outside of their race. The hesitation from her friends and others stems from their families' views.

"It's heart-wrenching that people feel that way," she said. "For me, I cannot base my marriage on what my mother or anyone thinks. When it's all said and done, it'll be me and him. I have to be happy with that."

By the time the couple have a child, Aaron Hampton said he hopes the lingering stigma will have dispelled.

"I didn't set out to marry a black woman, but it turned out that way," he said. "I hope people start to see it that way. I'm overlooking the disrespect, because my focus is on her."

Pew research's findings

- A record 14.6 percent of all new marriages in the United States in 2008 were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from each another.

- Among all newlyweds in 2008, 9 percent of whites, 16 percent of blacks, 26 percent of Hispanics and 31 percent of Asians married someone whose race or ethnicity was different from their own.

- Gender patterns in intermarriage vary widely. Some 22 percent of all black male newlyweds in 2008 married outside their race, compared with just 9 percent of black female newlyweds. Among Asians, the gender pattern runs the other way. Some 40 percent of Asian female newlyweds married outside their race in 2008, compared with just 20 percent of Asian male newlyweds. Among whites and Hispanics, by contrast, there are no gender differences in intermarriage rates.

- There is a strong regional pattern to intermarriage. Among all new marriages in 2008, 22 percent in the West were interracial or interethnic, compared with 13 percent in both the South and Northeast and 11 percent in the Midwest.

- Most Americans say they approve of racial or ethnic intermarriage -- not just in the abstract, but in their own families. More than 60 percent say it "would be fine" with them if a family member told them they were going to marry someone from any of three major race/ethnic groups other than their own.

- Thirty-five percent say they have a family member who is married to someone of a different race. Blacks say this at higher rates than do whites; younger adults at higher rates than older adults; and Westerners at higher rates than people living in other regions of the country.

Source: Pew Research Center, 2008 American Community

Comments (68) Add comment
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andrew412
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andrew412 06/19/10 - 01:57 am
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what a great article about

what a great article about these couples. i wonder how long it will take someone to post something offensive or racist about it.

concrndcitzn
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concrndcitzn 06/19/10 - 02:11 am
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It is about time that we

It is about time that we embrase the fact that people of different races and ethnic/cultural backgrounds can fall in love with one another and get married. There are still hurdles to climb. As a black woman marrying a white man is seen as successful in the community, but a black man marrying a white woman is seen as betraying his race. What is that about? I personally have dated people of many races, and have never even thought about the ethnicity of my partners, but focus on the true inner person. It is a shame that community leaders still cast a dark shadow on people who date and marry interracially, people who truly love each other. And, get this!!! The majority of the objections are not from the white community, but from other ethnic communities. Who can spell racist now???

soldout
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soldout 06/19/10 - 02:22 am
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The most important common

The most important common area in marriage is each one's relationship with Christ and following His directions for marriage. If one is more accountable to God than they are to their mate the marriage will always do fine. God created marriage and gave the guidelines to make it work. A study done many years ago found that marriages where both were Christian and they prayed together daily the odds of divorce were about 1 in 1400. It is pretty hard to treat someone badly or cheat on someone that you pray with every day.

Augusta resident
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Augusta resident 06/19/10 - 03:56 am
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Who cares, get over it

Who cares, get over it already! This shouldn't even be news.

GGpap
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GGpap 06/19/10 - 04:13 am
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As there are today, a study

As there are today, a study that was done "many years ago" had to have been conducted by a blathering bunch of idiots. I suspect that even the most hard core christians today would find it difficult to accept the conclusion that only 1 in 1400 christian couples, consisting of only those that prayed together daily, would remain married until "death do us part." (I won't even go into the idiocy concerning faithful marriages lasting on as they would be assumed to do in the fairy tale of an after life) GGpap

Trey Enfantay
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Trey Enfantay 06/19/10 - 05:03 am
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I've got both cardinals and

I've got both cardinals and blue jays living in my yard, however, I have not seen any purple offspring. We should learn from the birds....

Riverrunner30909
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Riverrunner30909 06/19/10 - 05:08 am
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Trey you know what they say.
Unpublished

Trey you know what they say. Most thing of the human body and mind can be repaired except Stupidity. There will always be people think that would be cool, our kids will look tanned all year.

Augusta resident
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Augusta resident 06/19/10 - 05:12 am
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All I was saying is that the

All I was saying is that the first interracial couple I saw or even noticed was like 30 years ago. Why does there need to be a study when you can see the obvious and who cares what the results are? Seems racist to me. I'm mixed white and Cherokee by the way and that probably happened 150 years ago.

Riverrunner30909
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Riverrunner30909 06/19/10 - 05:15 am
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According to The National
Unpublished

According to The National Assc of Police officers. 83.7% of the family abuse calls come from mixed marriages and hispanic marriages. Different cultures mix about as well as oil and water in marriages. You can shake, whip, blend oil and water but if you let it sit long enough, it will seperate again.

angeleyes
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angeleyes 06/19/10 - 06:35 am
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i totally agree with you

i totally agree with you augusta resident who cares. there is better news to report out there than who is getting married

nofrills
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nofrills 06/19/10 - 07:01 am
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God will judge what no man

God will judge what no man should! This is not even news worthy! I have parents who adopted children of a different race which I consider my family. Wonder how people look at that!

OnlyinAgs
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OnlyinAgs 06/19/10 - 07:21 am
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I see none of the Obama

I see none of the Obama Derangement Syndromers (ODSers) regular everyday posters haven't said anything. I suppose they must think this is not a good conservative thing to do, mixing races via marriages.

Grasshopper
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Grasshopper 06/19/10 - 07:28 am
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I will be glad when everyone

I will be glad when everyone is mixed. We can end this stupidity. However, in China, if you don't have the proper shaped face and head, then you are considered less intelligent.

jg41160
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jg41160 06/19/10 - 07:29 am
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RR-lol. By mixed, do you mean

RR-lol. By mixed, do you mean a man and a woman, some one from north and south, old and young,tall and short, employed and unemployed, early riser and night owl, etc...

cricketflea
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cricketflea 06/19/10 - 07:30 am
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It doesn't matter. People

It doesn't matter. People have been mixing for hundreds of years, only keeping it in closets. Where do you think light-skinned black people come from? Not from staying out of the sun, I am sure. It's in the genes. We are ALL so mixed up in our genes, it would take a scientist to tell each of us what we are, so again, who cares?? I, for instance, am a duke's mixture of English, German, Russian, Irish and Polish! And those are just the ones I KNOW about!! Do you think back in the 15th century THAT would have been tolerated? No, I don't think so. So, just get over it all. It's just a color, like red or green. Kind of keeps life interesting as far as I'm concerned!

tyler00143
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tyler00143 06/19/10 - 07:36 am
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I can honestly respect

I can honestly respect everyone's opinion. But me personally, I was happy to see this article. I am Puertorican and my husband is black and we both have had our share of racism even still today. We have been together since 1998 and were married 2004 (high school sweethearts). We are very happy and I cant seem to figure out why my marriage is anyone elses business. If you dont like it turn the other way or better yet stay home! But who are you to judge? You cant help who you love and if someone is happy why should it even matter?

beboisme
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beboisme 06/19/10 - 07:47 am
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Trey Enfantry, I, for one,

Trey Enfantry, I, for one, caught your drift.

55 F-100
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55 F-100 06/19/10 - 07:53 am
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Trey...........truer words

Trey...........truer words were never spake.

Zoe
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Zoe 06/19/10 - 08:42 am
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LMAO Trey!!

LMAO Trey!!

sdrwtcn
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sdrwtcn 06/19/10 - 08:54 am
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Andrew, it didn't take long.

Andrew, it didn't take long. They don't call this the "Dirty South" for nothing!!

Fish Out of Water
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Fish Out of Water 06/19/10 - 08:51 am
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Trey, you do realize that

Trey, you do realize that Cardinals and Blue Jays are different species, right?

oldenoughtoknowbetter
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oldenoughtoknowbetter 06/19/10 - 09:20 am
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I never saw a blue bird mate
Unpublished

I never saw a blue bird mate with a red bird nor a bumble bee mate with a honey bee. So are the laws of nature, nothing racial about that. God will get you.

oldenoughtoknowbetter
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oldenoughtoknowbetter 06/19/10 - 09:26 am
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The tragedy in mixed race
Unpublished

The tragedy in mixed race marriages are the offspring. It's sad to watch a child being shuned by other children. Children can be so cruel and so honest.

lsmith
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lsmith 06/19/10 - 10:08 am
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I agree with Trey: I also
Unpublished

I agree with Trey: I also think it's interesting to note that when you see mixed couples out and about the majority of them are Black men and white women. White men and black women are a rare sight. There are all sorts of assumptions one might draw from this, but I defer to the conclusions each of you might come to on your own.

dougk
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dougk 06/19/10 - 10:15 am
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Oldenough, the "tragedy" is
Unpublished

Oldenough, the "tragedy" is not the offspring, the tragedy is backward people raising backward kids who are cruel to the offspring. There are a number of examples in the comments here.

peonynut
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peonynut 06/19/10 - 10:18 am
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Did you all over look the 31%

Did you all over look the 31% Hispanics? Hum, maybe a chance to stay in the US legally.

cristinadh
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cristinadh 06/19/10 - 11:04 am
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I don't agree,, but that's

I don't agree,, but that's just my opinion..

Nativeson1
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Nativeson1 06/19/10 - 11:16 am
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The tragedy is ignorant

The tragedy is ignorant people who try and push their ignorant views of other hues off on others...And Blue jays and Cardinals are an ignorant way of saying nothing...And you might want to check your family tree, I'm sure there are some light and dark leaves somewhere on the branches so don't fool yourself....

Emerydan
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Emerydan 06/19/10 - 11:25 am
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I also don't see why this is

I also don't see why this is even news in today's day and age.. I could see this being controversial in say 1972. Just a side note, why is it when you see a black man dating a white woman.. the white woman is usually quite overweight. I've noticed it as an undeniable pattern. Just wondering if there is some cultural preference for bigger women.

dougk
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dougk 06/19/10 - 11:28 am
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Emerydan, You need to get out
Unpublished

Emerydan, You need to get out more....and, in any case, it's not a good thing to generalize from your limited observations.....potential knowledge is a terrible thing to waste.

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