It’s widely known that Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the nation, the most diverse metropolitan area in fact. But it’s also one of the most segregated cities.
So, what about relationships between members of different races and ethnicities?
While no Houston-specific statistics are available, the Pew Research Center last year released a report that shows nationwide interracial marriages are at an all-time high.
Fifteen percent of new marriages in the United States in 2010 were between spouses of a different ethnicity or race. In Texas, that number was 18 percent.
Rice University sociologist Dr. Stephen Klineberg conducts the annual Houston Area Survey. He says what is known is that many Houstonians say they have dated someone of a race different from their own.
“Age predicts powerfully, predicts especially powerfully among Anglos where everybody under the age of 50, 50 percent or more said, ‘Yes, indeed I have. Thank you very much.’ And then it drops precipitously as you get into 50 to 59, 60 to 69, or 70 and older where it drops down to just 13 percent.”
These numbers are the combined results for 2007 and 2011, when the question was asked. Of all races or ethnicities, between 37 and 46 percent of Houstonians of all ages answered the question positively.
“I want to say maybe almost close to 50 percent of my clients are interracial marriages.”
That’s Audrey Hu, a Houston-based wedding planner. She says more and more of the couples she’s worked with in the last seven years are mixed race.
“A lot of people are marrying outside their race because, you know, America is such a melting pot. And it’s not who you… You don’t always choose who you love, so I think it’s only going to get higher and more.”
Hu says in her experience the majority of mixed-race couples meet in college. That makes sense, says Dr. Klineberg, because Houston is more segregated in terms of income class than race.
“You know, you meet in college, and so it’s upper middle class African Americans falling in love with upper middle class Asians or Latinos and that’s why I tell people the real challenge is the class divide.”
With the number of interracial couples rising, so is their acceptance. Sixty-three percent of Americans say it would be fine with them if a member of their family married someone of a different race.
In the 2004 Houston Area Survey, 57 percent of Anglo and black Houstonians said they would approve of a close relative’s marriage to someone of the respective other race.
However, prejudice toward interracial marriage has not disappeared. That was shown recently by the many racist Internet comments about a new Cheerios commercial featuring an interracial couple. You can view this video below.