The Changing Landscape of Race, Culture, and Family Life: Interracial Couples' Contribution to the Conversation

Theresa R. White, Susan M. Love, Herman L. DeBose, Daniele M. Loprieno


The published social science research on interracial marriages has burgeoned considerably over the past few decades as experts address not only traditional, but also emerging questions about the quality of life in mixed-race families. The "emic" experience of being in a mixed race family remains, though, a relatively under-explored topic. To help fill the gap, we conducted a nationally distributed, snowball sample, anonymous, online survey of 241 married or cohabiting individuals; 83.6% self-identified as a member of a bi-racial couple. The 131 items surveyed couples' experiences of their partnership, family life, support, and discrimination—both in time and in place. The study presented multiple findings including a persistence of race discrimination in neighborhoods and at work; surprisingly, the couples also reported that their children were allowed to play with the children of White neighbors, regardless of the racial makeup of the family. There was a significant relationship between "importance of falling in love" and the racial makeup of the couple (x2 (15, N=205) =30.42, p=.01); Black/White and Hispanic/White couples choose their partner for love. Moreover, same race couples expressed the most unhappiness and the most regret of all of the couple-groups surveyed. Most concerning, though, was that interracial couples perceive raising multiracial children as more difficult; these results were significant (x2 (30, N=206) =62.68, p=.00) with Black/White couples, at 45.7%. The study presents multiple correlation tables. Additionally, limitations of the study are discussed and suggestions for further studies are presented.

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