Intermarriage and racial amalgamation in the United States

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Live Events, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2011-08-05 05:08Z by Steven

Intermarriage and racial amalgamation in the United States

Biodemography and Social Biology
Volume 14, Issue 2 (1967)
pages 112-120
DOI: 10.1080/19485565.1967.9987710

David M. Heer, Professor Emeritus of Sociology
University of Southern California

Within the last few years tremendous popular interest has been aroused in the subject of Negro-white intermarriage. Fifteen years ago Negro protest leaders claimed they were interested only in jobs and votes and consequently downplayed talk of intermarriage. Moreover, conservative whites were comforted by Gunnar Myrdal’s report that although the ban on intermarriage was for them the most important aspect of the caste system, Negroes considered it the least important of the various discriminations they were forced to suffer. Very recently, however, the attitude on the part of many Negro leaders toward intermarriage has changed. Increasingly, such leaders, particularly the younger ones, are saying, “Why not?”

Earlier, most Negro thinking tended to isolate political and economic discriminations from the social discriminations symbolized, par excellence, by white attitudes toward racial intermarriage. However, in the writer’s opinion, such thinking represented faulty sociological analysis. A more thorough view of the situation reveals that restrictions on racial intermarriage may well be closely linked to the economic discrimination that Negroes in our society must endure. Davis (1949) has listed the main social functions of the family as the reproduction, maintenance, placement, and socialization of the young. Let us focus our attention on the placement function of the family in the contemporary United Stales, i.e. on the consequences which birth into a given family has for the youngsters future social position. Let us first remember that the transfer of wealth in our society is largely accomplished by bequeathal from one family member to another. The possession of wealth in our society not only entitles one to receive regular monetary interest; it is also a source of power, credit, and prestige. Secondly, it must be recognized that although universalism is the predominant criterion for the matching of job applicants to job vacancies in our society, particularism is quite important for many segments of it. In particular, in the building trades, jobs cannot be obtained without admittance to the union’s apprenticeship program and in many instances it is almost impossible to obtain entree into the apprenticeship program unless one is a son or other close relative of a union member. Third, social science research has established that entree to elite positions in our society is most easily obtained by those who grow up from birth in a family having relatively high status.  Birth in a high status family, of course, provides the financial means for obtaining advanced education. In addition, however, it is invaluable for giving one a sense of familiarity with the activities and functioning of high status society. This familiarity not only reduces the fear of interpersonal contacts in such a society but also increases the motivation to become a full participant…

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