Miscegenation is the mixing of different racial groups through marriage, cohabitation, sexual relations, or procreation.
I was born in the late ’40s and grew up in a much different world than that which we have now. I can still remember seeing my first black/white couple on the street, seen fleetingly from a bus in 1968 in Washington DC. Before that, I had lived in South Bend IN, a city where black people lived in defined places and even white people lived in enclaves unto their own: in Italian, Polish, Jewish, and other ethnically-separated communities. This arrangement seemed to gradually break down in the ’50s and ’60s as the growth of affluence and suburbanization became trends.
Laws forbidding marriage and sexual relations between people of different races were common in the US from the Colonial period through the middle of the 20th century. Historically, “miscegenation” has been used in the context of laws banning interracial marriage and sex. By 1915, 28 states made marriages between “Negroes and White persons” invalid; six states even included this prohibition in their constitutions. Miscegenation entered the historical record during European colonialism and the Age of Discovery, but societies such as China and Japan also had restrictions on marrying with peoples whom they considered to be of a different race.
In the early 1900’s, the eugenics movement in America supplied a new set of arguments to support existing restrictions on interracial marriage. These arguments incorporated a “scientific” brand of racism, emphasizing the supposed biological dangers of mixing the races. In 1930s and ’40s Germany, however, eugenics became official state policy with the well-known consequences which halted the idea’s development worldwide and doomed its status to that of ignorant, obscene, malevolent quackery.
Roughly equal numbers of people of all races are divided about interracial marriage; but larger historical forces have greatly diminished overt racism and shaped a new consciousness about mixed-race families. The social revolutions of the 1950s and ’60s (with their emphasis on individualism and nonconformity), the legal sanctions of new civil rights laws, and a decline in the institutional stability of marriage have all contributed to a growing tolerance for interracial relationships. TV shows such as the 2012-2015 ABC series Scandal makes interracial relationships seem almost normative.
I don’t mean to be insulting by casting the question in these terms, but it brings to mind the parallel question of whether you prefer mixed-breed to pure-breed puppies. It seems to me it comes down to a question of aesthetics, which is a subjective preference. On a purely objective level, the answer is a vindication of the biological principle of ‘hybrid vigor.’ Enhanced genetic diversity is good, even when it’s good aspects cannot be seen in a particular individual that has it. Reduced genetic diversity is bad, even if it’s badness cannot always be seen in its sufferers—presumably because pure-bred dogs emphasize characteristics which are desired by their breeders.
Yet I am wary of mixed-race unions. This is because combining different cultural backgrounds carries a greater risk of marriages not working out. A 2008 study by Jenifer L. Bratter and Rosalind B. King found that interracial couples have higher rates of divorce, particularly for those that married during the late 1980s. The authors found that gender plays a significant role in interracial divorce dynamics: by the 10th year of marriage, White females and non-White males twice as likely to divorce. White wife/Asian husband marriages are 59% more likely to end in divorce. Conversely, White men/non-White women couples show either very little or no differences in divorce rates. Within a marriage, miscegenation is an upstream swim.
We have this image of a great “melting pot” in which all people are to be treated the same. But I think this is utter nonsense. I believe there is a lot to be said for marrying into your cultural and economic background.
This doesn’t make me a racist, however. I happen to think that people of different races can and should get along—but combining vast differences in what you’re used to is radically raising the level of difficulty in marriage.
I prefer to see the human body as the preferable analogy of how successful multi-racial co-existence really works.
If you look at the organs of the healthy body at a cellular level, you will see that each organ has its unique, distinctive cells. If a liver cell were present anywhere else in the body but the liver, that would be a form of cancer and the organ in which it is found would probably malfunction and the host would likely die. The preferable ideal is for each organ to have its integrity preserved, its unique needs met, and for each organ to work harmoniously with all others, rendering the whole body healthy.
There are a few more predictors of marital success that apply to persons of all races.
Have either of the partners been married before? In aggregate, 50% of all marriages end in divorce—those who marry when between the ages of 20 to 24 have the highest rate of divorce; they’re nearly twice as likely to get divorced as those who get married between the ages of 25 to 29 years old. The divorce rate for a third marriage is 73%. When it comes to marriage, practice doesn’t make perfect. The divorce rate continues to get higher for each additional marriage. The “divorce-prone” are likely to seek an end to the marriage when things aren’t going well.
Does the groom substantially help with the housework, cleaning, and cooking? A man who does housework is also going to be involved in childrearing—another major indicator the marriage will last.
If the partners argue about finances at least once a week, the marriage is 30% more likely to end in divorce than if they argue about money less frequently.
Being religious doesn’t make a couple happier with their marriage, but it does suggest they may try a little harder to stick it out. For example, among the major religions, Catholics get divorced the least. Protestants the most. But what is really important here is not what religion they are, but how devoted they are to practicing their faith.
If one partner in a marriage is a smoker, they’re 75% to 91% more likely to divorce than smokers who are married to fellow smokers.
Are the bride and groom hunting for a house to buy?
That’s a good sign. Homeowners aren’t happier in marriage than renters, but there’s a permanence to their life—and a connection to a community. The house is also a roadblock to divorce, being hard to divide.
Are the parents of the bride and groom divorced? If so, their children are at higher risk of divorce when they marry by 14%. Before the parents divorced, was their conflict visible to the children or kept hushed behind closed doors? Surprisingly, it’s the children of the latter who are getting divorced. Growing up in a home where they thought everything was fine—until their parents suddenly announced their divorce—leads those children not to trust their relationships.
Watch the bride and her father as they walk down the aisle. Are they tense with each other? If so, that’s bad. Women with poor relationships to their fathers are more likely to get divorced from their husband.
The couple’s expectations are a huge factor in the longevity of their marriage. Couples who have attended premarital classes or counseling cut their odds of divorce by almost a third.
People must be free to try whatever will make them happy. But above all, they must have realistic expectations of what’s involved.
Groove of the Day
Listen to Three Days Grace performing “Human Race”
91° and Clear in the Morning, Thunderstorms in Afternoon