Though most Americans may still think of themselves as belonging to a single race, the multiracial population is surging. Racial boundaries are more permeable and easier to ignore than ever before.
Today, one in seven new marriages — 14.6 percent — unites spouses of different races, according to the Pew Research Center. The interracial marriage rate has doubled since 1980, and is six times what it was in 1960. For some combinations, the rate of increase has been even more rapid. When Barack Obama was born in 1961, less than one new marriage in 1,000 was, like his parents’, that of a black person and a white person. “By 1980, that share had risen to about one in 150 new marriages,’’ Pew notes. “By 2008, it had risen to one in 60.’’
Yet, as Jacoby notes, the federal government and race-based interest groups are pushing harder than ever to maintain a system of racial designations, while most Americans have moved on:
To be sure, some lobbies and grievance groups profit from aggravating racial distinctions. But most Americans have moved beyond the color-consciousness of generations past, and it’s time federal agencies did too. Congress should instruct the Census Bureau to stop counting and classifying Americans by race, and to mark the occasion by installing at its headquarters a monument bearing these words, which Thurgood Marshall wrote in a brief for the 1950 Supreme Court case of McLaurin v. Oklahoma:
“Racial criteria are irrational, irrelevant, [and] odious to our way of life.’’
I made similar points in my prior post, Why Don’t We Just Stop Counting?
Getting back to the title of Jacoby’s post, I assume the Editors at The Globe (owned by The New York Times) did not like his reference to “Racial Bean Counters” and changed the column title.
I liked Jacoby’s original title better, it was so much more accurate.