Multiracial population growing

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Sheronda Smith crossed the color line for love in her first marriage. So when she did it again, she and her husband, Joshua, expected the disapproving looks they sometimes got from strangers.

Joshua and Sheronda Smith live in Evans with their four mixed-race teen children from Sheronda's first biracial marriage.   Special
Special
Joshua and Sheronda Smith live in Evans with their four mixed-race teen children from Sheronda's first biracial marriage.

Sheronda is African-American and Joshua is white. Both are stationed at Fort Gordon. They live in Evans with their four mixed-race teenagers from Sheronda's first marriage.

"It's a tough fight to make a biracial marriage work," Sheronda said. "You've got to work at it and be willing to fight for what you have."

That fight might be getting a little easier for her and her family.

Figures from the 2010 census show the mixed-race population is still small in number, but growing fast.

In Georgia, 2 percent of the population is now multiracial, up from 1.2 percent in 2000. That's a 68 percent increase in 10 years, making it the fastest growing racial demographic in the state. Nationally, multiracial population growth rate was about 50 percent.

Richmond and Columbia counties also saw increases. Richmond County's multiracial population grew from 1.6 percent to 2.6 percent between 2000 and 2010, up 62 percent. In Columbia County, it grew from 1.1 percent to 2.8 percent, up 151 percent.

Though the starting point from 2000 was a small number, those changes represent real progress, said William A. Reese, an Augusta State University sociology professor.

"What's more important than an increase in the multiracial population is what that means," he said. "It means more people from different races are marrying."

Among sociologists, marriage is considered the final barrier between races. Racism is considered over when intermarriage becomes common, Reese said.

The multiracial population is probably growing for two reasons, he said. There are more biracial couples, meaning more biracial children. But there are also more people identifying themselves as multiracial, instead of choosing one race or another.

When biracial unions succeed, producing a Tiger Woods or Barack Obama, it goes a long way toward removing the stigma from such relationships, Reese said.

"Stereotypes and prejudices are based on ignorance. So, when there's a dramatic example of success, it does a lot to break down the stereotype," he said.

Sheronda said she has seen plenty of those stereotypes during both marriages. Some close friends distanced themselves. The service at restaurants was sometimes slower. Real estate agents steered her family toward poorer neighborhoods. A neighbor refused to wave back to her when she walked up the street, hand in hand with her husband.

"My husband and I just looked at each other," she said. "I know it was because he was there. I've waved every time I've passed her house and she always waved back before."

Despite such incidents, she sees small changes in attitudes. In the past when she registered her kids for school, she was advised to check the box saying they were black. When she moved to Evans in 2006, there was a box for five races and also a box that said "biracial."

"It was like, wow, what's that? I'd never seen that before," she said. "I think people are becoming more aware. They're recognizing there are people who are biracial."

Increase seen in area, state

Percentage-wise, the fastest growing racial demographic in the state of Georgia, including Richmond and Columbia counties, are those who consider themselves mixed race.

 20002010CHANGE
Richmond County3,2305,23062%
Columbia County1,3913,489151%
Georgia114,188191,56968%

Source: 2010 census

Comments (37) Add comment
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Jakki2488
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Jakki2488 03/27/11 - 06:36 pm
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Autumn I never said what race

Autumn I never said what race a person perceived you to be. Their perception is perception, not yours. It also varies from person to person.

Dixieman
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Dixieman 03/27/11 - 08:02 pm
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Race is a matter of

Race is a matter of perception. Social perception.
So?
It is still a reality of life.

mickl
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mickl 03/27/11 - 09:17 pm
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dough, ‘I wish racist white

dough, ‘I wish racist white people would learn that not all people who are white share their ignorant and vile racist attitudes.’
I wish racist black people would learn that not all people who are black share their ignorant and vile racist attitudes

dougk
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dougk 03/27/11 - 09:32 pm
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Absolutely, mickl. Couldn't
Unpublished

Absolutely, mickl. Couldn't agree more.

AutumnLeaves
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AutumnLeaves 03/27/11 - 10:36 pm
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dougk, the most racist people

dougk, the most racist people I've met were not white. Apparently I am not the only person who has had this experience and observation. There are racists and prejudiced people in every race, but I think that is obvious to anyone with an open mind.

arealist
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arealist 03/28/11 - 02:39 am
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I have a sister that was

I have a sister that was adopted who is bi-racial so I know first hand the issues that it can cause. I do have one issue with this and many other articles on the subject. There is no such thing as African-American. You've got to decide which one you are. Thats one term I wish would go away.

happychimer
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happychimer 03/28/11 - 09:11 am
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Autumn I thought I was

Autumn I thought I was English and Irish, and when I discovered Mulatto on both sides of my family, several relatives suddenly were no longer interested in genealogy. I did a maternal dna and an ethnicity dna, and a very educated man who has been studying genealogy for over 40 yrs took a look at my test results, and told me it looks like a lot of my ancestors were in the Roman Empire.

armyretired
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armyretired 03/28/11 - 11:49 am
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I live in Grovetown, I have

I live in Grovetown, I have one "white" child and three "black/white" children and one that is "german/black". In the middle school my middle child comes home and tells me that the "white" kids got upset that the "black" kids won whatever game they were playing during P.E.
Both my first husband and my husband are black - I am Scotch-Irish Cherokee and what ever else got tossed in there. My husbands family tree goes from white to black and every shade in between.
Racism is still alive and showing in the CSRA. Until people learn that it is not the color of your skin that makes you different racism will not go away.
If you pay attention you will see "white" and "black" people looking down upon mixed marriages and the offsring that come from that union.

It is sad and breaks my heart that my children have to deal with people that are ignorant and racist - who knows what they have hiding in their closet.

backagain
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backagain 03/28/11 - 12:03 pm
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Can't we all get along!!!!
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Can't we all get along!!!!

mickl
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mickl 03/28/11 - 12:31 pm
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'There is no such thing as

'There is no such thing as African-American. You've got to decide which one you are. '
So very, very true. You can be one or the other. If you want to be African Delta is ready when you are.

Adder
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Adder 03/28/11 - 12:36 pm
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Sure we can all get along.
Unpublished

Sure we can all get along. Just as soon as we elect our first Chinese or Hispanic president. We WILL have to. Ha ha ha.

swinter05
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swinter05 03/28/11 - 02:11 pm
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The only way that this

The only way that this subject will no longer be a talking point, is if there weren't such a thing as "BET" or... NAACP....or hair products that state "for women of color". People are so funny about not wanting themselves to be singled out, yet YOU continue to single yourself out.
There would be a massive uproar and riot if there were products or services that were singled out for the white race. I do understand that white and black hair is different and white people wouldn't want to use the strong chemicals, but why label the product as such...it's pretty much an unspoken truth. Honestly, the single me out tactic, is reserved for those that would like a pity party and can't accomplish anything by just doing what is required of them. I get so sick of the silliness. When we can just learn to acknowledge that IT IS WHAT IT IS, without being called a racist, then we will have come a long way.

AutumnLeaves
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AutumnLeaves 03/28/11 - 04:01 pm
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BTW, I appreciate the

BTW, I appreciate the article. It was a good springboard for discussion. I wish my mixed race friend who had been abandoned as an infant who was later adopted by an Italian family had not had to move to Columbia County to get away from horrible things that happened to her in Richmond County. It did not end in Richmond County though. People did not treat her with respect in Columbia County either. She had a very difficult and short life. I feel somewhat vindicated that at least one person who mis-used her turned out to be a career criminal who finally had to account for his misdeeds. While his "mommy" continued to protest he was being treated unfairly. They didn't know the half of it.

dougk
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dougk 03/28/11 - 05:56 pm
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It's amazing that people who
Unpublished

It's amazing that people who hold racist attitudes have no clue.

mickl
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mickl 03/28/11 - 06:41 pm
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‘It's amazing that people who

‘It's amazing that people who hold racist attitudes have no clue.’
It seems racism, hatred of whites, is being taught to young blacks and has been for several years.

LynxRHot
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LynxRHot 03/29/11 - 12:30 pm
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This is just plain

This is just plain stupid..."Among sociologists, marriage is considered the final barrier between races. Racism is considered over when intermarriage becomes common, Reese said." So a white marrying a white, black marrying a black, etc. constitutes racism? Come on! Why is it so wrong for people to want to mingle with their own kind?

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