News / USA

NYC Mayor-Elect’s Family Reflects Rise of Intermarriage

New York's Mayor Elect and Family Reflect New Landscape of Intermarriagei
X
December 19, 2013
In 1959, only four percent of Americans approved of interracial marriage. Today, the U.S. has its first biracial president, and 87 percent of Americans approve of interracial marriage, according to a recent Gallup Poll. In multi-ethnic New York City, where Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is married to an African American woman and is the father of biracial children, the numbers may be even higher. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
TEXT SIZE - +
Carolyn Weaver
— In 1959, only four percent of Americans approved of interracial marriage. Today, 87 percent do, according to a Gallup poll. President Barack Obama was born to such a marriage, and census figures show that the fastest growing demographic under 18 is children of mixed race.

When New York City’s new mayor-elect, Bill de Blasio, a white man married to an African American woman, takes office January 1 with his wife and their two children at his side, his family will mirror this new American landscape.
 
It hardly could be more different from 1958, when people who married across racial lines were subject to arrest in 22 U.S. states. Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving wed that year in Washington, D.C. Mildred was African American and Richard was white. Six weeks after, when they returned to their home state of Virginia, police broke down the door of their house in the middle of the night.
 
“I saw this light, and I woke up, and it was a policeman standing beside the bed. He told us to get up, that we [were] under arrest,” Mildred later recalled. They were sentenced to 25 years of banishment from Virginia. The Lovings sued, and in 1967 the Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws in the 16 states where they were still on the books. Since then, interracial marriage has steadily increased, to 15 percent of all new marriages and eight percent of existing marriages.
 
“Society has become more accepting of it - although we still get looks sometimes,” says New Yorker Gerri Buchanan. She is African American and has been married to Tom Rogers, who is white, for five years. They met online, and found they shared similar values, commitment to family foremost among them. Both have children from previous interracial marriages: Tom’s school-age daughters and Gerri’s adult son.
 
In New York, multiracial families like theirs and Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's are nothing out of the ordinary. Still, New York City has not previously had a racially mixed first family, and political observers say that de Blasio’s was a factor in his surge to an overwhelming win last November.
 
Increasing diversity
 
Ken Tanabe, the founder of Loving Day, a multi-city celebration of interracial families held each year on the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, said de Blasio's election reflects New York’s increasing diversity - within families as well as in neighborhoods.
 
“It’s always been a diverse place, but there are more and more couples that are interracial, and more and more people that identify as multi-ethnic, and with the election of Bill de Blasio, I think we’re seeing more and more acceptance and support for those families and couples and individuals,” he said. "If you look at who voted for him across all these different demographic groups, he did well across the board,” Tanabe added. “That’s remarkable,” he said, because “interracial marriage in politics is extremely rare. And he’s using that almost as an asset.”
 
Writer Aja Monet says that the de Blasio marriage also has special resonance for African American women, who are often sexualized - or ignored by - popular culture and politics.
 
“If you don't look a certain way, if you’re not Eurocentric in your figure, or in your identity - I mean look how many times people have torn down Michelle Obama based on her body, on how she looks, and this is from white men a lot of the time,” she said. “And then you have this other man, who is ‘Let me kiss my beautiful black wife in front of you, and I love her, and it’s not about that.’”
 
“I think there’s comfort in being represented by people who really reflect the type of lives we live every day,” Monet said.
 
Tom Rogers and Gerri Buchanan also voted for de Blasio. They supported him for his policies, not his personal life, they say. Still, his racially diverse family was appealing to them. “As it is depressing for me to see people not mingle, it makes me happy to see people like the de Blasios, who are kind of like us,” said Rogers.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid