Our Multiracial Future

The Pew Research Center has an interesting report out about interracial marriage. You won't be surprised to learn that it has increased significantly: In 1980, 6.7 percent of the newly married were married to someone of a different ethnicity; in 2008 the number had risen to 14.6 percent:

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But there are lots of other interesting data points. The most common type of interracial union, making up 41 percent of the total, is Hispanic/white (black/white marriages are only 11 percent of all interracial marriages). 30.8 percent of Asians who married in 2008 married someone of another ethnicity -- but it was heavily skewed toward women. While 39.5 percent of Asian women married non-Asian men, only 19.5 percent of Asian men married non-Asian women.

There are also some geographical differences (there's an interactive graphic here). While 21.4 percent of marriages in 2008 in the West were interracial, only 10.8 percent of those in the Midwest were. The highest proportion -- 28 percent -- was in Nevada. The lowest? Mississippi, at 5 percent.

It seems clear that the future America will be more racially fluid, with lines of identity growing more complex and less clear. Trends like this one augur well for the future of progressive ideals, but that doesn't necessarily mean more victories for Democratic candidates. You'd be hard-pressed to find a conservative candidate for a serious office who would decry miscegenation these days, and just look what happened when one troglodyte state senator in South Carolina referred to gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley as a "raghead" (Haley's parents are Sikh). He was roundly condemned by the state's entire Republican establishment, which counts as progress.

The point is, even Republicans will eventually sell themselves as a multiracial party perfectly aligned with a multiracial America. It may be some time before Americans believe it -- and for a long time the GOP will pay lip service to the idea while continuing to pick at the scab of white racial grievance. But lip service is the tribute politicians pay to virtue.

-- Paul Waldman

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