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For more than five hundred years, America has been a land where people have sought, if not always found, freedom. Those who were successful in their search have come to be seen as quintessential American heroes. And yet while we celebrate freedom as the founding tenet of our nation, the great paradox of America is the long existence and influence of slavery. At the nexus of slavery and freedom were free people of color, the tens of thousands of people of African descent who overcame incredible odds and lived free in the most unlikely of places—the slave societies of the South, the Caribbean, and Latin America in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Many histories of America have failed to tell the story of these resilient and fascinating people. If most Americans today are aware that some black men and women, like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, were able to escape from southern plantations and live in freedom in the North, few realize that free African Americans also lived in and occasionally prospered in places where slavery was so deeply rooted that it took a war to abolish it.
As the nation becomes more accepting of people marrying someone of another race or ethnicity, a recent study found that the Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas rank among the least likely for newlyweds to be of different backgrounds.
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A relative lack of diversity in the two Louisiana metro areas may have much to do with the statistics, but some people point to other factors, chief among them attitudes about race. Almost 50 years after the U. Supreme Court declared laws preventing interracial marriages or intimate relationships unconstitutional, the percentage of such newlywed couples in the U.
However, the study also ranked metro areas by the percentage of couples recently intermarried, and of more than metropolitan areas included in the study, Baton Rouge and Lafayette ranked in the bottom 10, with 8 percent and 9 percent of newlywed couples married to someone of a different race or ethnicity, respectively, according to the report released last month.
Across the nation, Asian and Hispanic people were the most likely race or ethnicity to intermarry, while white people were the least likely. Almost 30 percent of Asian and Hispanic newlyweds were intermarried, the study found, while 18 percent of black newlyweds were and 11 percent of white newlyweds.
Black men were far more likely to marry someone of another race or ethnicity, as were Asian women, both when compared to their same race but opposite gender. These factors definitely contribute to metropolitan regions' intermarriage rates, said Pew senior researcher Gretchen Livingston, who published the study. Honolulu and other metro areas with high percentages of intermarriage have large populations of Asian or Hispanic residents, while Baton Rouge and Lafayette do not.
In both Louisiana citiesAsians and Hispanics make up less than seven percent of the population together, according to the latest Census data. However, Livingston said that while this diversity plays a role, she believes "there's something else at play"; possibly acceptance or attitudes. She looked at other areas with similar demographics to Baton Rouge — a high percentage of primarily black and white people — and some do have ificantly higher intermarriage rates.
Little Rock, Arkansas, Livingston points out, has comparable demographics but statistics that show more than 14 percent of newlyweds intermarrying. She said higher percentages in intermarried couples is something she considers a positive thing for a community, a mark of real progress in how people choose to interact with each other.
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Lori Martin, an LSU associate professor in African and African-American studies and sociology, said she also believes more interaction among races and ethnic groups is paramount to addressing racism. New Orleans was neither near the bottom nor the top with 16 percent of newlyweds intermarried. Honolulu was the metro area with the highest percentage of intermarried newlyweds, at 42 percent. The Pew Research Center analyzed U. Census Bureau data in their report, defining a newlywed as someone married 12 months prior to being surveyed.
The Pew analysis is based on the U. The study refers intermarriages as those between a Hispanic person and a non-Hispanic person or marriages between non-Hispanic spouses who come from the following different racial groups: white, black, Asian, American Indian, multiracial or some other race.
In63 percent of non-black adults said they would be very or somewhat opposed to a close relative marrying a black person, but today, that figure is around 14 percent, an almost point drop, the study reports. And almost 40 percent of adults believe marrying different races or ethnicities is good for society, which is a point increase sincethe study found. The study also found that Democrats and Democratic-leaning adults were more likely to say that intermarriage is good for society.
Almost 50 percent of such respondents agreed with that statement, while only 28 percent of Republicans or Republican-leaning adults did. The Zipperts became Louisiana's first couple to marry after the revocation of the state's anti-miscegenation law in Before they received their marriage in St. Landry Parish, they fought the law prohibiting interracial marriages, soon winning their case with the support of the Supreme Court's Loving v. Virginia decision that same year.
Crump said she hopes more people have the opportunity to share Zippert's view and simply interact with people as Americans, as fellow citizens.
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