When FlashForward goes off the air this summer, we won’t just be seeing the last of one of the very few Asian American leading men on a TV show; it will also be end of one of the even fewer depictions of Asian American men in interracial relationships on network television.
John Cho and Gabrielle Union’s fictional Asian-and-black relationship on FlashForward found a lot of support from the Asian American blogosphere -- precisely for bucking the trends of not only stereotype but history. Being that Asian men have some of the lowest rates of interracial marriage of all races and ethnicities in the US...
Yet it’s interesting to note that, despite the uptick in depictions of biracial relationships on network TV, the rate of interracial marriages for Asians in real life is actually slowing down.
The Associated Press came out with a story recently which examined interracial marriages in the US. It seems that even though the instances of interracial marriages are still on the rise, the rate at which they are occurring has dropped. According the article, the growth of interracial marriages is slowing among Hispanics and Asians, but not as much among blacks.
The AP article states that, “About 40 percent of U.S.-born Asians now marry whites -- a figure unchanged since 1980.” Only about 1 percent of whites marry Asians, which I suppose makes sense, given that Asians make up about 4 percent of the total US population.
On Thursday, the New York Times covered a recent Pew Research Center study on interracial marriage these statistics: among newly married couples, 14.6 percent were mixed in 2008, compared with 11.2 percent in 2000 and 8.3 percent in 1990. It gives a different number for Asian marriages: of the 3.8 million people who married in 2008, 31 percent of Asians married a person of a different race or ethnicity.
Despite the 10 percent difference, the Pew’s lower number does support the AP article’s assertion that the rate of interracial marriage is dropping among Asians. Demographers attribute the slowing growth to anti-immigrant backlash after 9/11, causing immigrants to turn to their own communities for support and understanding.
Right now, about 8 percent of marriages in the US are mixed-raced, which is only a 1 percent increase from the 2000 census report. AP didn’t give a breakdown of Asian men marrying out versus Asian women, but it did say that the number of US-born Asians marrying foreign-born Asians has multiplied three times for men and five times for women.
Are Asian American women turning to racial in-group marriage 66 percent faster than are Asian American men?
Why might this be? Did 9/11 prompt a return to one’s roots, or has international travel and exchange fostered the growth in marrying foreign-born Asians? What other factors might contribute to the decreasing rate of interracial marriage?
What are your thoughts on this? Keep in mind that interracial marriage is a sensitive and contentious issue, so let’s keep our comments thoughtful and civil.