(August 2010) When Ann Dunham, a white woman, married a black African student, Barack Obama Sr., in 1961, marriage between white and black Americans was rare. Less than 3 percent of all marriages were interracial in 1960, and the public generally disapproved of such unions. Interracial marriage was even illegal in at least 15 U.S. states. Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that laws prohibiting interracial marriages were unconstitutional in 1967, a reported 72 percent of southern white Americans and 42 percent of northern whites said they supported an outright ban on interracial relationships.1 Even by 1987, just 48 percent of Americans said it was "OK for whites and blacks to date each other."2
In 2010, with Barack Obama Jr., in the White House, attitudes toward interracial dating and marriage are very different. Not surprisingly, this transformation is most evident among young people. As the education and income gaps between racial and ethnic groups shrank, so did the social distance between them. While racial discrimination is still evident, the boundaries separating the major ethnic and racial groups have become more porous.3
A recent survey found that young Americans ages 18 to 29 have nearly universal acceptance of interracial dating and marriage within their own families. Older Americans are not as tolerant: About 55 percent of those ages 50 to 64 and just 38 percent of those 65 or older said they would not mind if a family member married someone of another race.4
Most people appear willing to date outside their race, but they still state preferences. A recent study of profiles submitted to the online dating website Match.com showed, for example, that whites are more open to dating Hispanics and Asians than blacks are.5 And younger clients are more willing to date outside their race than older clients.
But most Americans marry someone of the same race. A recent report from the Pew Research Center found that one in seven new marriages in...
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