The Myth Of Interracial Marriage

For the better part of a decade, Gregory Rodriguez and Richard Rodriguez have been writing the same article over and over again. Their shared thesis: Hispanic immigration will solve America's racial problems because Latin American-style interracial marriage will make America's black-white racial hang-up obsolete.

Of course, they don't explain why 500 years of "mestizaje" have yet to solve Latin America's own racial problems - which, according to Amy Chua's new book "World on Fire," are growing more heated. (I offered an answer to this historical conundrum in a two part VDARE.COM series in 2000.)

So perhaps I may be forgiven for returning to one of my favorite topics—what the various effects of interracial marriage actually are, rather than what they are supposed to be. Especially because I have some important new Census numbers to pass along.

I'm not attacking interracial marriage. My personal opinion is that you should marry the person you love. After all, that's a lot better than marrying a person you don't love - or not marrying at all.

I am, however, pointing out that racial divisions are not simply some semantic confusion that can be erased by politically-corrected vocabulary. Race has a thorny underlying reality that keeps popping out in surprising places.

One unexpected effect of the growth of interracial marriage has been to increase resentment toward whites felt by black women and East Asian men. In my 1997 National Review article "Is Love Colorblind?" – published when John O'Sullivan was editor and still generating email - I used 1990 Census statistics on interracial marriage patterns to document the "dating disparity" that I first noticed at UCLA around 1981. Black men were more likely than black women to be romantically involved with whites. In contrast, East Asian women were more likely than East Asian men to be paired with whites.

Result:  a fair number of lonely and annoyed black women and Asian men.

Lots of people had written previously about either the black side or the Asian side of the interracial marriage gender imbalance. But only a few had noted this mirror image phenomenon. The ones who beat me to it include Arthur Hu, who wrote a perceptive article in Asian Week in 1990, and Frank Salter, who gave an academic address on it in 1996 [not online].

I argued back in 1997 that the force driving these skewed husband-wife proportions was racial differences in perceived masculinity. Since then, Rick Kittles of Howard University, while researching the causes of the high rate of prostate cancer among blacks, has published a study showing racial disparities in two genes controlling the strength of receptors for male hormones.

Many assume that equality is the natural human state. But I didn't think these gaps would disappear anytime soon. And they haven't. The social climate in the 1990s was close to ideal for diminishing the differences. As a recent Newsweek cover story on "The Black Gender Gap" pointed out, African-American women enjoyed a good decade, making steady progress in the college and corporate worlds, bringing them in more contact with whites. In contrast, black men had a decade to forget - including a big increase in African-American men in prison, which certainly reduced their availability on the marriage market.

You would think that this shortfall of black men would make black women more likely to marry white men.

Likewise, the technology boom that lasted through 2000 was good for Asian-American men. They made lots of money in computer-related industries.

But, as I reported for UPI on Friday, the Census Bureau finally announced last week its "enumeration" (not an estimate, but an actual count) of all the married couples in America, and

"In 73 percent of black-white couples, the husband was black. … Just over 75 percent of white-Asian couples featured a white husband and Asian wife."

My best estimate for 1990 was 72 percent for each category. But the more I've thought about some technical issues involved in making apples-to-apples comparisons (such as the Census Bureau's creation of a new multiracial category in 2000), the less comfortable I am contrasting the 2000 proportions directly to the 1990 proportions. Still, whether or not they grew, these gaps clearly remain very large. They offer support for my hypothesis in "Is Love Colorblind?"

One prediction I made in 1997, without any 1990 Census data to back it up: black-Asian marriages would be even more skewed gender-wise than black-white or white-Asian. That turned out to be true in 2000's results: 86 percent of black-Asian couples consisted of a black husband and an Asian wife.

Contrary to what is regularly assumed in this era of Tiger Woods, the extent of interracial marriage turns out to be quite limited. It has been claimed that Asian-American women marry outside their race 40 percent or even 50 percent of the time: in fact, only 22 percent of Asian-American women have a non-Asian husband. A mere nine percent of Asian husbands have non-Asian wives. These proportions are held down by mass immigration because immigrants are much less likely to marry across racial lines than are native-born Americans.

The interracial/interethnic marriage rate for African-American men is nine percent and for African-American women four percent. For non-Hispanic whites, it's between three and four percent for both sexes. In 2000, there were 41.3 million married couples comprised of two non-Hispanic whites, versus only 0.5 million consisting of a non-Hispanic white person and an Asian person - and only 0.29 million made up of non-Hispanic whites and blacks. (The Census Bureau's data tables can be downloaded here.)

(There were 1.4 million interethnic married couples consisting of a non-Hispanic white and a Hispanic. But in no less than 0.9 million of those cases, the Hispanic identified himself or herself as "white." The gender gap in marriages between non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics of any race was small: 54 percent consisted of a non-Hispanic white husband and a Hispanic wife. That balance is probably good news for American society since it's less likely to lead to ethnic resentment than the big black and Asian disparities.)

This black-white-Asian interracial marriage pattern is another example of "Rushton's Rule" - people of West African descent and of Northeast Asian descent tend to be more different from each other than either are from whites.

Bottom line: race isn't going away any time soon – regardless of any number of recycled Rodriguez articles.

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog.]