Today in Postracialism: Interracial Marriage Rising, Sort Of

Interracial marriage is increasing -- but slowly.

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Interracial marriage is increasing, but it's not exactly "adopt a brown baby" trendy.

Melting pot or racial divide? The growth of interracial marriages is slowing among U.S.-born Hispanics and Asians. Still, blacks are substantially more likely than before to marry whites.

The number of interracial marriages in the U.S. has risen 20 percent since 2000 to about 4.5 million, according to the latest census figures. While still growing, that number is a marked drop-off from the 65 percent increase between 1990 and 2000.

About 8 percent of U.S. marriages are mixed-race, up from 7 percent in 2000.

The latest trend belies notions of the U.S. as a post-racial, assimilated society. Demographers cite a steady flow of recent immigration that has given Hispanics and Asians more ethnically similar partners to choose from while creating some social distance from whites due to cultural and language differences.

White wariness toward a rapidly growing U.S. minority population also may be contributing to racial divisions, experts said.

"Racial boundaries are not going to disappear anytime soon," said Daniel Lichter, a professor of sociology and public policy at Cornell University. He noted the increase in anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks as well as current tensions in Arizona over its new immigration law.

"With a white backlash toward immigrant groups, some immigrants are more likely to turn inward to each other for support," Lichter said.