ESL Podcast Home ESL Podcast Store
HOME > BLOG > Who’s Marrying Whom?

Who’s Marrying Whom?

The New York Times recently ran (published) an interesting set of articles and graphics that underscore (emphasize) the changing face (appearance) of America. Because of immigration, the American population has always been diverse (made up of different groups of people). Now intermarriage – marriage between people from different groups – is helping the U.S. become even more diversified.

Let me try to clarify (make clear) some of the words we use to talk about group differences. In the 2010 census (official count of the population), there were two questions to help identify the groups of people that make up the U.S. population. The first was an ethnic question. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (government department responsible for the census), an ethnic group is a group of people that share (have the same) such things as culture, language, and religion. This question asked people if they were of “Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.” People from countries like Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and other Central and South American countries would have said, “Yes,” to this question.

The second question asked about a person’s race, which usually refers to national origin – the country the person’s family first came from. The choices included White (mostly people from Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa), Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Other Asian, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and several others.

According to the New York Times, intermarriage is on the rise (growing) in the U.S. This probably shouldn’t surprise us. Almost all of us in the U.S. come from immigrant families. Some immigrated recently; others, like my family, immigrated many years ago. It’s probably inevitable (certain to happen) that young men and women from different groups will meet, fall in love, and get married.

One study says that the number of interracial (between races) or interethnic (between ethnic groups) marriages has doubled in the past 20 years. Two years ago, another study reported that approximately 14% of U.S. marriages were between people of different races or ethnic groups. This trend (pattern) makes some people uncomfortable, but more and more young people are embracing (willingly accepting) a multiethnic or multiracial identity (multi- means more than one).

According to a graphic in the New York Times, intermarriage increased among all groups except Asians from 1980 to 2009. Among Asians, it declined (dropped). The largest increase in intermarriage has been among Hispanics. When we look at gender (male/female) differences, black men marry someone from a different group twice as often as black women do. Among Asians, it’s the opposite: Asian women marry someone from a different group more than twice as often as Asian men.

The New York Times also has a related feature (special article) called Mixed America’s Family Trees, which you might enjoy looking at. A family tree is a diagram that shows the relationships between people in several generations (people of about the same age) of a family. My grandfather, father, my son, and I represent four generations of our family. The family trees will help you see how intermarriage has changed several American families.

~ Warren Ediger: creator of Successful English, where you can find clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English.

Photo used under Creative Commons license.

32 Responses to “Who’s Marrying Whom?”

  1. Sanaz Says:

    To me, intermarriage is interesting! They can learn about completely different culturs, ethnics, and so forth. Most of the time there is no way but to learn their each other languages!
    And if they live in another country different from where they were born or they came from , it would be so good for their children who have the opportunity to acquire three different languages easily!!!!:)
    Thanks!

  2. Guilherme Says:

    This text is very interesting! It’s so sad that there is still people that is uncomfortable with the mixture of races and ethnics but everyday more people realize the beauty of diversity! thanks

  3. Alvaro Says:

    Hello everybody! Again, this is a very interesting topic to discuss. here in Brazil, it’s as common as in U.S. all those mixtures of different cultures and races and I think that’s the real formula of having all the good things we have here, I mean, we have here people and things from everywhere, a little bit of nearly any country in the world plus our natural beauties. The only problem realted to that is problably what both Warren and Guilherme mentioned, people feeling uncomfortable with all that!

  4. emiliano Says:

    Fascinating, that´s my opinion.

    I would like to follow my tree family just a lot and have a tree like one of the examples I have could see on The N.Y.T., but it´s very difficult
    or nearly impossible.
    Last year I could read that nearly 1 of every 3 spaniards has origin arabic or jewish, so if spaniards went to America, lot of latinoamericanos
    have also this origin what is even more fascinating.

    I like interracial marriages very much, despite it is not my case but it doesn´t matter I like it as one of the best action persons could do
    to be free and have not any kind of prejuices against other cultures, people or nations.
    Every person is similar to others and we could find love in whichever person we could meet without any other previous ideas or prejuices
    against his colour, language or religion.
    At the end we all are the same, same legs, head, heart, blood, and feelings.
    Watching movies from all over the world I have could see feelings are the same in humans whichever place of the globe they could
    were born.
    Yes, just the same feelings, questions, and behaviours.
    Love is always the same, and being craisy about a girl or a boy is similar everyplace.
    We did the same once love is inside our hearts, and we want the same: our love person close to us loving her/he in the same way
    everybody does round the Globe.
    Children come same form and same way every land, the only difference is wealth or poverty.

    Diversity is the best action to survive and to be more tolerant, so yes I like interrracial marriages as the best way humans may understand
    their similar human neighbours.

    Working at the Bank in The Gran Via of Madrid along six years I could saw and talk with people from all over the world and it was really
    a good lesson for me.
    Of course the common language to speak with not spanish origin persons was English, it may be the reason I love this language.

    Living in Alicante I met a nice couple which were married in Swissland many years ago, he is spaniard and she is greek, but they met each
    other speaking German in Swissland, as he didn´t speak greek neither she speaks spanish.
    They need to be married twice by the Catholic and Orthodox Christian Religion, like our Spanish Kings when they got married.

    This couple lived in Swissland for a long time and after that they came to Spain the husband´s land.
    Nice couple and good friends of us.

    But what surprise me is the differences between men and women to choose another race wife or husband depending of their race.
    Why asian women and black men are twice more favorable to intermarriage that their opposite genere?
    Is there any reason for that?

    hummm, it is interesting and must be reasons that´s sure.

    Thank you Warren, as always you have good sight to post a good subject.
    All the best, emiliano

  5. emiliano Says:

    BEING CRAZY, reading the post I have seen so big fault, you are really crazy emiliano making mistakes every moment, sorry friends.

    the old boy.

  6. Peter Says:

    Snanaz
    Where do u live
    Iran
    Canada
    Europe

  7. Julio Says:

    In Spain, in the Census questionaire, questions like those related to the race or the ethnic group of individuals are not allowed, as well as those related to political ideas or similar ones. I think there must be some kind of information on the item, but it will be through some survey. Nevertheless, Spain, from ten years ago approximately, has increased its population a lot, around eight millions people, mainly because of an impressive growth of inmigration. That’s why a trend towards a new multicultural society is on the rise, and we are undoubtly going to see, and we are already seeing, many marriages like those in America’s society.
    Best regards from Spain,
    Julio

  8. Ahmet Says:

    First of all, I want to thanks you, Warren.

    It’s so good article. In my life, I don’t have prejudgement about people who come from diffrent ethnic groups and religions. I think that world will be a good place to live if people understand and respect each others.
    Thank you.
    Ahmet from TURKIYE

  9. Peter Says:

    Warren,
    Don’t tell me this
    Man u have been living here long enough to know that intermarriage or inter reltionship barely happens.
    Specially ,when you are from some certain ethnic groups it never happens.
    Be realistic man
    Let’s talk fact here
    Not abounch of meaningless numbers
    You know better than me that they are not accurate.
    We are living this everyday man
    Don’t tell me you don’t see it.
    People from different ethnicity are nice to each other and live with each other in harmony .
    They are civil
    When you go out you mostly see people from the same background hang out with each other
    Go to a coffe shop and people watch for 3 or 4 hours
    U will notice propel who are to gather mostly are form the same region
    How many friends Warren you have from other ethnicity , friends you really hang out with, not friends at school or a sociall setting.
    Sorry ,but I don’t buy it
    That is the reason we have different neighbor hood for different ethnicity
    It is the way it is my friend

  10. Peter Says:

    I didn’t mean to be disreapectful ,
    But ,let’s talk fact Here
    Not relying on a bouncy of fancy numbers
    They are far from what is really going on here.
    It is not the case at all
    It happens ,but perhaps 1 out of 1 millions
    Peace out

  11. Nele Says:

    Hi at all,
    I think it is the change, which we should look. Some years ago, in some places of the world, there were laws, that people put in prison, when a black man married a white woman or a jewish married an “aryan” or a catholic married an evangelic or a man loves a man …
    And now, there are places in the world where this is posibble and it ist positiv.
    I think this people lives a little bit closer by the understanding of tolerance, respect, love and “you shall love your neighbour as yourself”.
    I knew, it is not everywhere possible. But I think or I hope, in a global world the tolerance will come bigger. The hate or intolerance against people who a different from us or live in a different way become smaller and smaller.
    The statistics you reportet about are signs in this direction, t think.
    Regards Nele

  12. Yao Says:

    Intermarriage brings something good but also some bad effect such as culture crash ,it’s inevitable I think.

  13. Tania Says:

    Hi! In “The Big Count” posted by Dr. Jeff on April 22, 2010 we found out that according to the U.S. Constitution, the federal(national) government must take a census every 10 years, every year ending in zero
    is a census year. One of the main reasons for the census is to determine how to allot the 435 members that form the United States House of Representatives.
    We were finding out and the census regions and divisions of the U.S.

    And now, new aspects of the census: the interracial marriages, mixed-race Americans, who’s marrying whom?
    Now we can accept easier an interracial marriage watching so many movies, so many black (or other color)stars, so many top models of success, so many sportmen…
    But years ago…a very, very difficult problem. In my country only after 1975 we could see an interracial marriage with foreign students who had studied in Romania.
    I understood better their problems after I had watched the movie “One potato, two potatoes” – an African-American gets married with a white woman.
    I was crying all the time watching that movie…
    Peter is right.

    All the best for you all,

    Tania

  14. Tania Says:

    Hi! I was able to read the article run (published) in the NYT above mentioned.
    Many questions without answer for the mixed-race children:
    “Why are you with her? Yuo’re not black, so she should be with a black person.”
    “My family has been pulling me in two directions about what I am. I just want to be a person.”
    “What are you?” their friends asked, and “Where are you from?” Saying “I’m an American” wasn’t enough.
    But more distant relatives never came around .”They can’t see past the color of my skin and accept me even though I share DNA with them”. “It hurts a lot because I don’t even know my father’s side of the family”.

  15. Tania Says:

    Hi! The secret is “finding a group of people who can accept you for who you are and being able to accept yourself, to just be able to look in the mirror and say
    ‘I’M O.K. JUST THE WAY I AM!’

  16. Tania Says:

    Hi! If we find enough love, compassion, acceptance and tolerance within us to do so…we have to start thinking about the “individual” as an unique entity where “race” is unimportant.

  17. Tania Says:

    Hi! I have just read Zinsser on Friday “The Right to Write” on writing your memoir.
    “There are many good reasons for writing your memoir.
    Writing is a sanity-saving companion for people in times of grief, loss, illness, and other accidents of fate.
    WRITING MAKES YOU FEEL LESS ALONE.”

  18. Tania Says:

    Hi! I like very much John De Andrea’works – his hyper-realist sculptures.
    What is nicer? The marble sculpture or the fiber glass sculpture?

  19. Tania Says:

    Hi! I have just found out that we use the phrase “SUVs” (sport utility vehicles) in our newspapers, too.

  20. Betty Says:

    Thank you very much, Warren, for updating us with some interesting finding of the current census of U.S.

    However, I don’t think U.S. need intermarriage to become more diversified. U.S. population has always been made up of people from all over the world, who offer diversity to U.S.

    Intermarriage happens only by chance, not by a need to make a country more diversified.

    Frankly speaking, I think Peter was right, the number of intermarriage is negligible. It is natural that people tend to marry someone from their own group, ‘Birds of a feather flock together’.

    On the other hand, it is also true that intermarriage is on the rise. I personally believe that it is partly due to more girls attending universities and thus have more chances of meeting people from many different backgrounds and ethnic groups.

    People in the modern society are more open minded and normally will not oppose to their children marrying someone from a different ethnic group or having a different religion, but arranged marriage still exist today, and, almost certainly, the parents choose a partner for their children from their own surroundings, ie their own hometown or villages, their own group of people.

    A change in countries’ wealth could also change people’s preference in choosing their marriage partners.

    Please excuse me for using India as an example, I hope to try to explain one of the phenomenon stated in Warren’s article above that “intermarriage increased among all groups except Asians from 1980 to 2009. Among Asians, it declined (dropped)”. If an Indian girl’s eligible potential marriage partner in India, for example, is now wealthier than, say, another potential marriage partner in U.S., it is even more sensible for the Indian girl to accept the proposal from her boy friend in India.

    Just a hypothesis.

    Whatever will be, will be. Don’t worry too much.

  21. Andreas Says:

    I think Peter is right, but Nele what has said is right too.
    In the most large citys live the different ethnic groups in one own city district, separate by group. For people from other countries, religions and so forth is it difficult find contact to other people in such city district. This is the one side.
    But the other side is,how Nele said, we have a chance to improve our social coexistence. We must to use this chance only.

  22. Betty Says:

    Hi Tania, thank you so much for filling our souls with your writings which touch our hearts softly.

    Your post about ‘The Right to Write’ is a permit for us to write here. So often I have been writing my messages in the middle of the night, no need to find someone to listen to what I want to say, the computer is my patient listener.

    I love writing, perhaps as much as reading. I used to write a lot of Chinese when I was little, even dreamed of becoming a poet or studying Chinese Language in the university.

    The reality of life did not permit my dream to come true, I never pursuit my ‘Chinese’ dream.

    Typing Chinese on the computer is something very difficult for me, whereas typing English is so easy, I am writing (typing) English any time when I can.

    Thank you again, Tania, let’s keep on writing.

  23. Tania Says:

    Hi! Thank you , dear Betty.

    Dear Emiliano and dear Daniel, talking about the time. For me time means :
    “Time tames the strongest grief.”
    “Happiness takes no account of time.”
    “Other times, other manners.”
    “Time reveals all things.”
    “Time works wonders.”

    We have a very nice hit song “Stop the Time!” Stop the time, never comes back… It can never be recalled.

    All the best for you all,

    Tania

  24. Tania Says:

    Hi! Daniel, what about this large solar flare phenomena or solar explosion?

  25. emiliano Says:

    Reading other posts I could see that my opinion about this particular subject is really worthlees as I haven´t been living in a different
    country of my own and never I have been an immigrant who need to touch a different culture or different women from my own race
    or colour.
    Peter or others here, that have been living outside their own country and need to be in touch with a different culture or persons
    outside their own countries knows a lot more than me.

    Practically talking about this matter I know nothing, only my own feelings or memories of other time but experience cero.
    Above I said already what my feelings are and my good desires about the subject, even Warren is telling us a fact registered by
    a newspaper, only that and nothing about his own experience.

    Being as old as I am, only what I could say is that on the fifties or sixties intermarriages between different colours or race was very
    very odd.
    A marriage between a colour man or woman with a white was like a blasfemy for lot of persons and it was odd and
    some ways forbiden by all means.

    Nothing to talk before those years but I know by reading some books that it was even worst.
    Even some places, some states of Usa and other countries, that kind of actions carried death pennalty as Nele said above.
    No experience but knowledge about the matter I have some.

    So, world is changing for good about this subject, it´s not perfect yet and it´s even difficult but things are changing from the time
    before us, despite it´s a long way ahead in future.

    All the best friends.
    emiliano

  26. Warren Ediger Says:

    In response to Emiliano – and others – who’ve asked: (1) my observations are very similar to what I described in the blog post; (2) the numbers reported in the article were not from the newspaper; they were from respected research organizations, like the Pew Research Center.

    Warren

  27. emiliano Says:

    Thank you very much Warren, I really appreciate your contribution to the Blog with so interesting topics and good teaching
    vocabulary.
    I think also that you may have a good time reading such a lot of differents opinions about the subjects you write for us.

    With all my respect and gratitude.

    emiliano

  28. Dr. Lucy Tse Says:

    My observations and experiences are very similar to what Warren described in his post. The data mentioned in the post are from the U.S. Census and describe intermarriage in the United States. These data are also “in line with” (agree with) other research reports I’ve seen on the subject. On a personal note, in my own family, there are interethnic, interracial, and interfaith (different religions) marriages. In the U.S., they are by no means uncommon today. The situation may be quite different in Canada, England, and many other English-speaking countries. Warren’s post is only about the U.S.

    Thank you, Warren, for such an interesting, informative, and “thought-provoking” (making us think) post.

    Lucy

  29. Betty Says:

    Thank you very much, Warren and Lucy, for kindly monitoring our progress in the discussions about this topic.

    It is very kind of you both to pull us back from walking towards an opposite direction from the intended place. Yes, U.S. must be very different from England, that’s why we used to say British people are very conservative, U.S. people are more open-minded.

    However, I would like to make a reservation about U.S. vs England here, because almost all my Chinese or other Asian origin lady friends whom I met in these twelve years married an English/Scottish man (I can count them in one hand, people become reluctant to make new friends after a certain age).

    As a matter of fact, because people travel more widely, and university education becomes more readily available to everyone, people are more open-minded about intermarriage nowadays than in the past. I think this may be a worldwide trend.

    U.S. has always led the trend, would this particular topic set another example as well?

  30. Tania Says:

    Hi! Dear Warren, thank you for your good information you have given us.

  31. Hilario Says:

    Please Betty don´t miss posting your comments because you´re such good writter as anyone else can be in this post. You´re always brief and syntactically accurate as well as you concern up to the subject in debate. Same as you do, I also support the New York Times´s opinion about intercultural marriages, it reflex as it is now a days and not only in the developed countries but almost everywhere in this globalized world. Let me say that I find interesting that our teachers masters –Lucy,Warren,Jeff– can find themselves any good chance to intervent in our deliberations about the topics.

  32. emiliano Says:

    Be calm Hilario, I don´t think Betty is missing her posts here, she knows quite well that we need her, all what she said is interesting and
    very well written.
    I like her nice and polite way of writing, that´s a clue to know she has been really very good educated, may be a bit different from our
    west style but I like hers more that ours, be sure about that.

    Yes Betty, to me every one of your post is a lesson of good manners that enchants me, also all you said is interesting and with quite
    a good English.

    I don´t know what that boys or girls of England could think when they saw a nice well featured face small chinese girl with a big glass
    of beer in front of her, but it´s sure that here in my country she would achieved a great success and she should had a lot of boys round her
    trying to be kind and looking for having a date with a nice girl so exquisite and uncommon by this land.
    Me too of course if I were single by the moment, you can bet about that.

    One of the girls who had more charm and success in Spain about the seventies was Isabel Presley.
    She married on 1971 with Julio Iglesias and had three sons with him.
    Afterward she married a marquess and finally one of the most clever man of the moment, Miguel Boyer who was minister of economy
    in the government of Mr. Gonzalez.
    By the seventies and eighties she got a lot of admires and was really famous here in Spain.

    Here every boy or man dreams with a girl from south Asia, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, and so on.
    They were good educated and they have a lot of charm for us.
    Not any kind of problem about intermarriage, I know that for sure.
    ………
    A girl who hopes about a man?
    I have three daughters and I could understand what they want quite well….

    First, to be consider as an equal to him, with all the same rights every moment and along their life together.
    and of course also….
    Be unique and the first by all means.
    Love, respect and be understood by him and by his family.
    That´s all.
    Race, colour, religion or country of birth doesn´t matter if the man has these qualities.

    Who has them?

    Has this something to do with race, colour or the nation where a person is born?
    I think No, these have something to do with the mind, the ideas which are inside the mind of people, men or women
    who could have a different culture or education and it´s difficult for them to change once they have grown up.
    Children is different, once they have a new different education in other country than their parents their minds are the same to the people
    who are arround them, the children they have at the school who are their fellows and inside their minds start a new process.

    More or less is what is happening in USA and in other parts of the world where people are going from other lands of the
    Globe.
    It´s happening here too, I could see it in Madrid where so many different persons have come from outside.
    Their children is the future of our nation and their way of thinking would be the same as all their fellows who are in the school
    with them.

    Well, that´s my point of view.
    Yes, this subject has a lot to think and a lot to talk.

    Thank you Lucy, I agree with you absolutely as always I do.

    emiliano