Interracial relationships on rise, some couples still struggle with discrimination

By Jaime Greco |
Photo by Eliza Jordan

Amanda Clair and her boyfriend, Jarrod Branco, encounter discrimination and looks of disgust at times when they are together in public.

Clair is white and Branco is black, and the Flagler College juniors think their interracial relationship is not accepted in St. Augustine.

“I feel like Flagler College is very accepting of diversity, but I think once beyond campus grounds, it’s a whole new world,” Clair says.

Interracial marriages are at an all time high, according to the Pew Research Center study released last Thursday that shows 8.4 percent of all marriages in the U.S. are interracial marriages. The increase of interracial marriages has led to more accepting public mindsets, according to the study.

This is inevitable, Dr. Helena Sarkio, a Flagler College communication professor who is in an interracial marriage, says.

“There’re more Hispanics in the United States than ever before,” Sarkio said. “There’re more Asian Americans than ever before. When you have more minorities, isn’t it a natural consequence that more of them are going to marry people who are white.”

According to the Pew Research Center study, the majority, 22 percent, of “intermarriages,” are of those in the Midwest. Sarkio and her husband met their freshman year of college at Iowa State University. Though Sarkio is originally from Finland, her husband’s Midwestern family and her family accepts their relationship.

Clair, from Florida, has a much less accepting family. Though her parents never discussed race with her, her extended family makes their viewpoints clear, which ruined her relationships with her father’s side of her family, she says.

The study shows that education, income, region and age, can be factors that define the acceptance of interracial couples.

Despite personal viewpoints, the U.S. as whole is making strides toward more diversity in marriages. These bonds are not strictly between whites and minorities, according to the Pew Research study. The patterns within the demographics tested in the study vary between the categories.

As the number of interracial marriages increase, the number of people who accept them will increase as well, according to the study, which refers to this trend as, “the fading of a taboo.”

Branco, who has lived in St. Augustine for three years, notices acceptance of interracial relationships’ progression in town.

“I see a lot more interracial couples on campus at my college,” he said.

Sarkio and her husband have been together for 20 years and married for 10.

“I’ve been with my husband for so long that race isn’t a thing that I think about,” she said.

Clair says she doesn’t, “view the world through colors” and she isn’t going to hide who she is.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Be the first to comment on "Interracial relationships on rise, some couples still struggle with discrimination"

Leave a comment