Interracial Marriage and Divorce in Kansas and the Question of Instability of Mixed Marriages

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2019-04-08 17:50Z by Steven

Interracial Marriage and Divorce in Kansas and the Question of Instability of Mixed Marriages

Journal of Comparative Family Studies
Volume 2, Number 1 (SPRING 1971)
pages 107-120

Thomas P. Monahan, Professor of Sociology
Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania

Some critical comments on studies of interracial marriage are offered, and caution is urged in using information purporting to disclose the nature of the interracial marriage phenomenon, including United States Census and Vital Statistics data. The legal history of racial intermarriage in Kansas is outlined, and its statistical data upon these events are briefly evaluated. Beginning with the year 1947, mixed race marriage and divorce statistics for White, Mexican, Negro, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Other races in Kansas are presented. The figures show a rather steady rise in the proportion of mixed marriages, but Negroes appear to be the least intermarried of the minority groups and account for less than one-half of mixed marriages. In the late 1960′ s about 15 per cent of all the nonwhite marriages (7 per cent for Negroes separately) were mixed. Important differences appear for the several other races. In Kansas, as in Iowa, mixed Negro marriages probably have been more stable than homogamous Negro marriages. Again, whether or not a certain type of mixed race marriage will endure would seem to depend upon the particular races intermarrying, the social circumstances surrounding them at the time, and the nature of the marital choice itself.


Although broadly theoretical and interpretive articles have been written upon interracial, interethnic, and intercaste marriages (Davis, 1941;; Merton, 1941; van den Berghe, 1960), the statistical basis for such studies is rather fragmentary and selective material (Monahan, 1970a, 1970b). On the whole, even though individual countries have at times assembled such data, factual information is sparse, and none appears in the 1968 Demographic Yearbook of the United Nations. A cross-cultural comparison of the demographic concomitants of this phenomenon requires sets of carefully drawn data, analyzed first within their separate cultural contexts. As part of a larger study of the past and present situation in the United States, information about interracial marriage and divorce in the mid-American state of Kansas should add a segment to our understanding of the American pattern.

In their recent book on Marriage and Divorce (1970:129), Carter and Glick propose that the number of interracial marriages, while “extremely small,” has shown an upward trend and in the coming decades will register substantial increases. Their findings are also interpreted to support the theory that mixed marriages are relatively unstable as compared to homogamous ones (pp. 124-125). Unfortunately these hypotheses are based on 1960 Census data, about w’hich there are serious doubts as to accuracy and significance, acknowledged in part by the authors (Carter and Glick, 1970:424-426; Monahan 1970a:462). It would seem that answers to these questions on the trend and instability of interracial marriages in the United States should be derived from statistics on marriage and divorce occurrences, rather than from secondary Census information showing marital status of the population.

Reliance upon Census data is to some extent due to the lack of national statistics on marriage and divorce in depth and in detail. Also, because they are based upon a very small sample of state records, the marriage data of the National Center for Health Statistics are not very meaningful as to interracial marriage trends, as yet; and, with respect to interracial divorce, only a few states have records by race for a sufficient number of years. Indeed, race-or-color has been poorly defended as a statistical item and has been obliterated from the marriage records in some major population areas (California, Maryland, Michigan, and New York) by civil rights protagonists, thus making objective findings on interracial marriage more difficult…

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Interracial Marriage in a Southern Area: Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Law, Media Archive, Social Science, United States, Virginia on 2019-04-08 17:13Z by Steven

Interracial Marriage in a Southern Area: Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia

Journal of Comparative Family Studies
pages 217-241

Thomas P. Monahan, Professor of Sociology
Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania

Representing the Southern tradition, Virginia and Maryland in Colonial times enacted strong laws against racial intermarriage, which continued in force until 1967. For over 100 years the District of Columbia, located between Virginia and Maryland at the North-South borderline, allowed the races to marry without legal restriction. Strong social restraints, nevertheless, existed. How frequently mixed marriages occurred in the District in the past, and in all three jurisdictions after 1967, when such marriages could legally take place anywhere in the United States, is a matter of special interest. What change has there been in the extent and nature of interracial marriage in this geographical area?1

The Legal Control of Intermarriage

Shortly after the settlement of the English colonies in America, public opinion became antagonistic toward the interbreeding of whites with Negroes, mulattoes, or Indians, and laws were passed to control biological blending and intermarriage of the races (Ballagh, 1902; Johnson, 1919, Guild, 1936; Reuter, 1931:75; Scott, 1930; Wilson, 1965:20; Jordan, 1968:139).


Ten years after the importation of a small number of Negro slaves into the colony, the Virginia Assembly in 1630 ordered the sound whipping of one Hugh Davis for lying with a Negress, a heathen (Hening, 1809:1-146; Hurd, 1858:1-229), and in 1640 a Robert Sweet was ordered by the Governor and Council to do penance in church for impregnating a Negro woman, who was to be whipped…

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Social Construction of Ethnicity Versus Personal Experience: The Case of Afro-Amerasians

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2012-04-28 20:56Z by Steven

Social Construction of Ethnicity Versus Personal Experience: The Case of Afro-Amerasians

Journal of Comparative Family Studies
Volume 29, Issue 2 (Summer 1998)
pages 255-267

Teresa Kay Williams

Michael C. Thornton, Professor of Afro-American Studies
University of Wisconsin, Madison

The article focuses on the existence of ethnic group differences in the U.S. and how the subgroup of Black Americans, Afro-Amerasians, situate themselves in an environment that attempts to place them within established racial boundaries. Afro-Amerasians are estranged between two forces: the contrasting push of society to identify them as only Black, and the pull of their own personal and unique experience. However, instead of succumbing to these forces, these groups developed a different kind of Black identity which incorporates other parts of their heritage. They choose to situate themselves on the traditional boundaries of racial groups rather than deny important parts of who they are; thus, they choose to be marginal. They grew up in environment where they had ample opportunity to develop. These people tried to make sense of their experiences as radicalized peoples. Their struggles with personal and social accepts of identity provide sociological insight into understanding the complexities and contradictions of race and their ever-changing meanings and applications.

There are two significant contributors to ethnicity or racial group identity: a thread of historical experience that is shared by each member of the collectivity, and a sense of potency/strength inherent in the group (see Phinney, 1990). In social science research, racial identity, ostensibly feelings toward the group, is rarely examined with explicit measures of group feelings. Usually, a racial label is correlated to psychosocial development of group members. In this regard, racial group membership – and not actual experience – is normally featured.

 Thus, race is often used as a proxy for experience and attitudes, a practice embedded in premises of social science literature (Wilkinson, 1984). Deterministic views of race ignore important variations in how subgroups of Blacks relate to the larger group and to one another. Perhaps no experience better exposes the contradictions regarding how we view race in America than that of racially mixed individuals and, in particular, those with African heritage (Bonacich, 1991; King and DaCosta, 1995; Root, 1992).

Although a rare occurrence, interracial ties draw much attention because they encapsulate unresolved feelings and attitudes about race (Thomton and Wason, 1995). In a society racially stratified, where races are seen to be distinct, racial mixing has always been considered problematic (Spickard, 1992). Interracial populations muddy the dualistic view of race (i.e., that each of us is one or another race) and epitomize the inadequacies of this ideology; they lead us to question basic assumptions of how racial life is organized. In this article, we elaborate on this point by examining what would normally be considered a subgroup of Black Americans. We explore how Afro-Amerasians situate themselves in an environment that attempts to place them within established racial boundaries.


Black Group Identity

Work on Black group identity is not easy to characterize, in part because of relatively limited research on this issue, especially that which examines ethnic group differences (Porter and Washington, 1993). Typically, analysis highlights the influence of social class on identity (e.g., Landry, 1987; Farley, 1984). Some inquiry suggests that class is only a part of the puzzle. Broman et al. (1988) reveal that older, less-educated respondents in urban areas and highly-educated Blacks living outside the West were most likely to feel close to other Blacks. Gurin et al. (1989) show that identity, defined as common fate and as more Black than American, was not simply related to class. Males and those of upper-class status were more likely to feel a common fate with Blacks. Younger Blacks and those who did not work full-time were also more likely to feel more Black than American.

Usually, these studies implicitly assume that group identity is a globally positive (or negative) feeling toward a homogeneous racial referent (Allen et al., 1989). This view fails to recognize that subgroups of Blacks have attitudes about various groups within the racial category (e.g., poor versus middle-class Blacks). It is also common, within this perspective, to treat Blacks as having assimilated and thus not see identity as an alternate cultural experience (Porter and Washington, 1993). These assumptions result in an approach that rarely sees group attitudes as an admixture of positive and negative feelings. This approach does not allow for the possibility that group attitudes may involve an affinity with some aspects of subgroups within the racial category, even while coupled with attempts to disassociate from others (McAdoo, 1985; Jackson et al., 1988; Cross, 1991).

However, an ambiguity toward the racial group might be expected for minorities who contend with negative images of their group permeating society. Some emerging works identify several reference groups within the overarching racial category. Allen et al. (1989) describe identity as containing two important referents: masses (non-mainstream) and elites (mainstream). They suggest that within the racial category is an array of boundaries and identities prioritized in a variety of ways. For example, case studies show that native Black Americans distance themselves from Black Haitians (Stafford, 1985).

Multiracial Identity

Blacks will have different views of Blackness depending on where they are positioned in the social hierarchy. The position we consider here is mixed racial heritage. Historically, this category was simple. Mixed race referred to Black-White offspring who were part of a two-tiered system: Whites and Blacks, with racially mixed people viewed as improved versions of Blacks. Changes in the racial composition of the United States have been the catalyst of emerging work accenting race relations as inclusive …

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