Since the 1970s, there has been a 300 percent increase in marriages between people of different races. When these couples produce offspring, their children are considered to be biracial. Interracial marriage-which is most often thought of as marriage between whites and blacks-was illegal in sixteen states until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned miscegenation laws in 1967.
Today, the term interracial marriageable, or racially mixed marriage, has taken on a much broader interpretation as people from nations around the globe, representing a wide diversity of racial-ethnic and cultural backgrounds, form couples, marry, and produce children of mixed racial parentage. Skin color and place of birth have ceased to be reliable indicators of a person's Identity or origin. What effect does interracial parenting have on children and families? "Penny Yang," a Hmong woman whose family immigrated to the United States from Laos, describes how her mixed racial-ethnic background affects her family life: My mom is Japanese and my dad is Hmong and my step mom is American. It feels kind of different because I never met anyone who is Hmong and Japanese and American before, but I'm proud of it. I kind of get background from all sides, exposure from all different cultures. I wish, though, that I knew how to speak Hmong or Japanese really-really well... " When I'm with my dad's relatives, I wish I could understand more of what's going on. I wish I could communicate with them because it's kind of put a barrier between me and them that I don't speak Hmong. Even though I love them and know that we're a family and everything. it's holding me back because I don't know the language. So ill a Jot of ways J fed left out, and I know I would feel different if I could speak Hmong .... If my Hmong or Japanese relatives don't understand me,
then I really can't do anything about it. That's just the way I am. I'm an American with a mixed background, just like a lot of Americans. (qtd. in Alderman, 1998:238-239) ,
Many biracial and bicultural children find through the lens of their personal experiences that they have, an enhanced ability to understand the meaning of race and culture as these factors influence daily life. They also have opportunities to map a new ethnic terrain for the United States and other nations that transcends traditional racial and cultural divisions (O'Hearn 1998). Journalist Lise Funderburg (1994), who identifies herself as biracial, sums up the significance of the increasing number of biracial marriages and biracial and bicultural children in this way: To some extent. as the number of biracial people increases in this country. the choices they make about how to raise their children and how to influence their children's attitudes toward race will help determine not just how future generations of biracial children will be welcomed or shunned by society at large but also how all Americans will view and value race.... (Funderburg, 1994: 348)