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Census Data Shows More Multiracial Americans

With nine million multiracial Americans, the nation has come a long way.

2010 census data indicates an increase in interracial marriage. The census results also show growth in multiracial populations between 2000 and 2010, most notably in the South and the Midwest.

Loving Day photo by Willie Davis

A family attends last year's New York City celebration of Loving Day, June 12, which is the day the Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage.

Photo by Willie Davis/Loving Day Project.

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The Census Bureau changed the way it counts race and ethnicity in 2000, allowing people to check multiple race boxes for the first time. Nine million Americans, about 3 percent of the total population, identified themselves as multiracial in the 2010 census.

Multiracial Americans seem to be increasingly comfortable identifying as more than one race, says Marvin King, a political science professor at the University of Mississippi. King is African American and married to a white woman. They have a two-year-old daughter. “Children are conscientiously raised as both black and white at the same time. They don’t have to hide it like in the old days,” King said.

Young people marry partners of another race more frequently than older people. According to a 2008 study by the Pew Research Center, 8 percent of all existing marriages in the United States were interracial, while 14.6 percent of all new marriages were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity.

When it comes to interracial marriage, America has come a long way. When Barack Obama was born, his parents’ marriage would have been illegal in more than 25 states. According to King, “We are getting closer to fulfilling some of the promises of the civil rights movement.” 


Oliver LazenbyOliver Lazenby wrote this article for Beyond Prisons, the Summer 2011 issue of YES! Magazine. Oliver is an editorial intern at YES!

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