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Race Mixing

Race Mixing

Black–White Marriage in Postwar America

Renee C. Romano

ISBN 9780674042889

Publication date: 07/01/2009

Marriage between blacks and whites is a longstanding and deeply ingrained taboo in American culture. On the eve of World War II, mixed-race marriage was illegal in most states, politicians argued for segregated facilities in order to prevent race mixing, and interracial couples risked public hostility, legal action, even violence. Yet, sixty years later, black-white marriage is no longer illegal or a divisive political issue, and the number of such couples and their mixed-race children has risen dramatically. Renee Romano explains how and why such marriages have gained acceptance, and what this tells us about race relations in contemporary America.

Although significant numbers of both blacks and whites still oppose interracial marriage, larger historical forces have greatly diminished overt racism and shaped a new consciousness about mixed-race families. The social revolutions of the 1950s and '60s (with their emphasis on individualism and nonconformity), the legal sanctions of new civil rights laws, and a decline in the institutional stability of marriage have all contributed to the growing tolerance for interracial relationships. Telling the powerful stories of couples who married across the color line, Romano shows how cultural shifts are lived by individuals, and how they have enabled mixed couples to build supportive communities for themselves and their children.

However, Romano warns that the erosion of this taboo does not mean that racism no longer exists. The history of interracial marriage helps us understand the extent to which America has overcome its racist past, and how much further we must go to achieve meaningful racial equality.

Praise

  • Though still rare in America, black-white interracial marriage has progressed far from its ostracized and, in many states, criminal status at mid-century. In her first book, Romano...surveys the social and legal environment for interracial marriage in America since World War II...Romano makes clear that shifting social attitudes, rather than law and the courts, have most profoundly impacted interracial relationships...Recommended.

    —Janet Igraham Dwyer, Library Journal

Author

  • Renee C. Romano is Professor of History, Comparative American Studies, and Africana Studies at Oberlin College.

Book Details

  • Harvard University Press

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