On a warm Wednesday night, Pasadena's Old Town is full of young couples, many of them "interracial," to use the current jargon. A dark-haired fellow who may well have some Irish ancestors strolls hand-in-hand with a Southeast Asian girl, perhaps the daughter of refugees from Vietnam. Another young man with a thick accent, Russian maybe, jabs the air with his finger as he walks beside a young woman with roots in India or Pakistan. Is this a preview of what America will look like in a few decades? I'm here in California for a conference. This was home until we moved to the Midwest six years ago—and it seems to me that even in that short span, the number of interracial couples has increased greatly. But is this a trend that will remain limited to Los Angeles and a few other urban areas? I don't know, but I am guessing that more and more couples throughout the United States will be crossing racial lines. We haven't begun to grasp the profound impact of the "new immigration" of the last 30 years, the greatest influx of newcomers since the peak years at the beginning of the twentieth century. A recent study reported that 40 percent of the people living in New York City are foreign-born. But the impact of the new immigration is not limited to New York, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other huge urban centers. Wherever you live today, the girl or boy next door may be from Laos or Bosnia, Mexico or the Philippines. (See the current issue of Mother Jones, for instance, for an article on Mexicans in the U.S. "heartland.")One consequence of this unprecedented intermingling is that barriers which once seemed insurmountable have simply melted away. Not that long ago it was against the law in some states for Asians to marry whites. Now some Asian American groups—Japanese Americans, especially—are concerned about their very high rate of "oumarriage," fearful of losing their distinctive identity.Many young women and men will continue to seek partners within their own "group"—though of course, in reality, the vast majority of us are already mestizos, people of "mixed blood." But many will not, and as their numbers increase, it will be harder and harder to maintain the racial categories we have inherited from the century just past. As far as I am concerned, that is very good news. Three cheers for miscegenation!
John Wilson is Editor of Books & Culture and Editor-at-Large for Christianity Today.
Visit Books & Culture online at BooksandCulture.com or subscribe here.The etymology of the word miscegenation is available at Africana.com.Books & Culture published a review of Postethnic America: Beyond Multiculturalism in its Nov./Dec. 1996 issue. The article, "What Do You Mean, 'We'?" was written by Philip Gleason, professor of history at the University of Notre Dame. [print only]Marriage Partnership, a Christianity Today sister publication, profiled the Harambee Center's Kafi & Rudy Carrasco and their life as an interracial couple.The Mother Jones article " Hispanic Diaspora" isn't currently available online, but it might be someday.Amanda Carlson, a former student of Trinity International University, had a paper published on the school's Web site about interracial marriages in the church. The article isn't there any longer, but you can still read it through Google's cache.In Campus Life (a Christianity Today sister publication for teens), Tim Stafford gives a 19-year-old advice about her father, who opposes her interracial relationship. Other articles on interracial marriage from Christian points of view are available from Cornerstone magazine, New Man magazine, ChristianAnswers.net, and Associated Baptist Press.Interracial relationships received headlines earlier this year when Bob Jones University was criticized for, then dropped, its ban on interracial dating.Books & Culture Corner appears Mondays at ChristianityToday.com. Earlier Books & Culture Corners include:"Give 'Em Hell, Harry!" | Looking back at the 1948 presidential campaign. By Elizabeth Jacoway (Aug. 7, 2000) Roaring Lambs | The Evangelical Culture of Euphemism, Part 3. By John Wilson (July 31, 2000) The Evangelical Culture of Euphemism, Part 2 | Should we distinguish between public and private discourse? By John Wilson (July 24, 2000) The Culture of Euphemism | A dispatch from the Christian Booksellers Association convention. By John Wilson (July 17, 2000) Get Outta My Face! | The most troublesome word in religion today. By John Wilson (July 10, 2000) It Takes a Village to Raise a Child … | But for an abortion, you only need a doctor and a nurse or two. By John Wilson (July 3, 2000) Mad Scientist Holds World Hostage | Thoughts on the "rough draft of the genome map." By John Wilson (June 27, 2000) History Wars Update | 'Feisty' historians attempt to reconstruct their discipline. By Donald A. Yerxa (June 19, 2000)
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