Overview of Intergroup Relations and Th eir Impact on Interethnic and Interracial Marriages
INTRODUCTION Interethnic and interracial marriages have been problematic and openly criticized throughout American history. Even among White European ethnic groups, interethnic marriage was initially seen as a very negative occurrence. Th e citizens fi nally began to create an identity for what it means to be an “American.” Immigration to the United States was virtually unheard of from 1787 through 1830. Shortly aft er this, immigration from Europe was strongly encouraged because of industrial development and the intense need for labor power. Individuals from Northern and Western Europe were preferred because they were most similar, ethnically and culturally, to Americans. As the immigration shift ed in the middle and late 1800s with more people arriving from Southern and Eastern Europe, Americans perceived them to be diff erent and “drew a line in the sand.” As a result, marriage across ethnic lines was considered by Americans of Northern and Western European descent as mongrelization and if it were encouraged, the demise of society would follow. It should not be surprising that this orientation was extended to racial groups. Th erefore, interethnic and interracial marriage represented a major barrier between groups aimed at keeping them socially and spatially separated. In this chapter we explore racial and ethnic group distinctions and how social power is used to create and maintain dominant-subordinate relationships.