The Biracial-Baby Boom

Despite having a mixed-race president who checks just one box, more Americans than ever seem comfortable claiming a complicated ethnic identity.

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The Washington Post reported on Thursday about data showing that the number of mixed-race babies has soared over the past decade, the result of an increase in the number of interracial couples as well as a cultural shift. Despite having a biracial president who chooses to check just one box, more Americans than ever seem willing to identify themselves and their kids in a way that's more complicated than just indicating "black" or "white."

More than 7 percent of the 3.5 million children born in the year before the 2010 Census were of two or more races, up from barely 5 percent a decade earlier. The number of children born to black and white couples and to Asian and white couples almost doubled.

"I think people are more comfortable in identifying themselves, and their children, as mixed race,” said William H. Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer who analyzed detailed census data on mixed-race infants. “It’s much more socially acceptable, more mainstream, to say, ‘That’s what we want to identify them as.’ ”

Frey said the census statistics on children with black and white parents in particular show a country that is advancing toward the day when race loses its power to be a hot-button issue.

People who identify themselves as one race tend to be older. They reflect a society in which laws prohibited interracial marriage and states such as Virginia enforced a “one drop” rule designating anyone as black if they could trace even one drop of their blood to an African American ancestor. President Obama, for example, identified himself as one race -- black -- on his census form, even though his mother was white.

Read more at the Washington Post.

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Sept. 19 2014 8:34 AM