A TRUE MELTING POT
|What race are you? The answer to this question used to be simple, easy to answer. This is no longer the case. Thirty years ago, only one in every 100 children born in the United States was of mixed race. Today, the number is one in 19. In some states, such as California and Washington, the number is closer to one in 10.
This incredible increase can be explained by looking at the number of interracial marriages. Since the 1960s, the number of interracial marriages has increased dramatically. This is largely due to the fact that in 1967, the Supreme Court ruled on the Loving vs. Virginia case, causing a ban on interracial marriages to be overturned. In 1960, there were only 149,000 interracial marriages. This number increased by 52% during the decade. By the 1970s, the numbers rose an additional 67%, and continued to grow through the 1980s and 1990s. In the latest data available, the 1998 Census, 1.35 million couples were reported to as interracial.
Recognizing this enormous number, the U.S. Census decided to allow people to identify themselves by using a combination of race categories, unlike in the past when a person could select one only. Calculated, this means that the number of race and race combinations officially recognized in America is now 126. It is estimated that about 2% of the population will check off multiple races on the 2000 Census, but this now seems to be underestimated. Also, there are many people who don’t want to check a box at all. Says James Landrith, who runs Multiracial Activist, a Web site dealing with multiracial issues, “They [multiracial citizens] are tired of being asked the question. Societal changes have led fewer people to look to race as a defining characteristic. They don’t want to be defined in that matter.” He adds that the question is divisive, ridiculous and offensive.
Says G. Reginald Daniel, a sociology professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, “It’s a powerful moment in our history. We’ve thought of ourselves as a melting pot and we’ve never really been one. But now that it looks like we are doing that, everyone’s getting uncomfortable.” Many multiracial teens find this to be true. Though an increasing number of multiracial teens are beginning to outwardly declare that they are of multiple races, these same teens may also feel torn between two, three, or perhaps four, race groups. Sometimes, multiracial teens may be hear attacks from all sides, condemning that the teen for example, is “too black to be white” or “too white to be black.”
Some high-profile multiracial celebrities, such as Derek Jeter, Mariah Carey, and Tiger Woods are increasing awareness of this issue. Tiger Woods is self-described as “Cablinasian,” a mix of Caucasian, American Indian, African-American and Asian-American. Mariah Carey has recently appeared on national television on the Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss the problems she raced growing up multiracial.
Even though more people are becoming inclined to identify themselves as a member of several races, says Carlos Cortes, professor of history at the University of California at Riverside, “It’s the other people who still need to become comfortable with the concept. The mindset has to change. That takes a number of years. The whole pressure in America was to be one thing, one or the other. But as you get enough people who say, “Hey, wait, I’m not one or the other,” it sort of bolsters the stance.
If you are a multiracial teen, have you faced any difficulties regarding your multiple lineages? Send us your voice!
“Thirty years ago, only one in every 100 children born in the United States was of mixed race.”
“…the number of race and race combinations officially recognized in America is now 126.”
“They [multiracial citizens] are tired of being asked the question. Societal changes have led fewer people to look to race as a defining characteristic.”
“The whole pressure in America was to be one thing, one or the other.”
Originally published at: http://www.teenvoice.com/realtime/newarticles/race/