Interracial Marriage – Asians and Blacks

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Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento, and his wife, Michelle Rhee.

Based on comments I read around the web, people seem to have a lot of confusion when it comes to interracial marriage, particularly when it comes to Asians and Blacks. It’s understandable in one sense in that people normally only see one view of the world from their own little corner of the world. Seldom does their small corner of the world match the overall averages or totals that social scientists and demographers study. Also let’s face it, some people really do not want to know or believe the facts, they just want to live in their own bubble of flawed facts – the internet seems to have a lot of people who fit this category unfortunately. Despite all of that, this article will lay out the numbers for interracial marriage as it relates to Asians and Blacks.

While we are speaking of demographics, let’s talk about data sources for this article. All of the hard numbers for this article come from four sources: 1) the US Census, 2) Pew Research, 3) Asian-Nation, or 4) calculations from ABC derived from these sources. Also by the way, much of the Pew Research data and Asian-Nation data comes from the US Census as well, so really almost all of this data comes from the US Census, just with different slices and dices of the data. As anyone who has ever analyzed census data knows, there are lots numbers, calculations, and statistics involved which frankly most people really would rather avoid. This is particularly true for marriage data which unlike other census data typically does not come in neat little data tables and instead has to be downloaded from huge data files and cranked through with either statistical software or time-consuming excel gyrations. So for this article (as well as every other article on this blog), you can trust that all of the quoted numbers are solidly researched and verified – these are not made up numbers. Some may not like or believe the numbers because they don’t match their small corner of the world, but that’s a different issue. So let’s dig into the numbers.

Data Sources1

Interracial Marriage by Race and Gender

Let’s start with looking at which racial groups and genders marry out (marry someone outside their race) the most and least. Here’s the latest data from the guys at Pew.

  • Asian women marry out 36% of the time
  • Hispanic men marry out 26%
  • Hispanic women marry out 25%
  • Black men marry out 24%
  • Asian men marry out 17%
  • White men marry out 9.5%
  • White women marry out 9.4%
  • Black women marry out 9.3%

So Asian women are most likely to marry another race by far in the US, while Black women are least likely to marry another race. The reasons why people marry out are many and complex, and frankly I have not really seen any conclusive research that answers these questions. For Asian women, you hear a variety of reasons from economic improvement, to cultural assimilation in America, to problems that Asian women have with Asian men, to Asian fetish (except that a marriage requires two willing partners and most Asian women I know, quickly run away from anyone who even appears to have an Asian fetish, so a one way Asian fetish doesn’t really explain higher Asian female out marriage to me). Given the variety of Asian women, there are likely a large variety of reasons why Asian women marry out more often than anyone else. For Black women, there are many studies that show that Black women often have a perception issue (real or not) in social situations, but again I’m not sure that this totally explains why Black women marry out less than anyone else.

Lily J. Lee, leading Blasian Youtuber at "Blasian Family Channel", and her husband, James Woods
Lily J. Lee, leading Blasian Youtuber at Blasian Family Channel, and her husband, James Woods.

For Whites, while they are least likely to marry out along with Black women, the number of Whites in the US means that there are still more Whites in interracial relationships than any other group. One way to think about it is that for every one White guy you see married to a non-White, there are about 9 White guys married to White women, whereas for every Black guy you see married to a non-Black woman, there are only about 3 Black guys married to Black women.

Interracial Marriage By Asian Nationality and Gender

Kingsley Azieh Che, Cameroonian businessman and trader, and his wife, Shaung Wang.
Kingsley Azieh Che, Cameroonian businessman and trader, and his wife, Shuang Wang.

To better understand what’s happening with Asians, you have to look deeper at Asian marriages by nationality, gender, and place of birth. Asian-Nation has the definitive data on this topic. Here is the summary for US raised Asian women and Asian men.

Asian Women

  • US Raised Filipina women marry out 57% of the time
  • US Raised Korean women marry out 55%
  • US Raised Japanese women marry out 39%
  • US Raised Chinese women marry out 38%
  • US Raised Vietnamese women marry out 33%
  • US Raised Indian women marry out 28%
  • Asian Raised Asian women marry out 16%

Asian Men

  • US Raised Filipino men marry out 39%
  • US Raised Japanese men marry out 31%
  • US Raised Korean men marry out 29%
  • US Raised Chinese men marry out 23%
  • US Raised Indian men marry out 19%
  • US Raised Vietnamese men marry out 17%
  • Asian Raised Asian men marry out 3.5%

For Asian women, over half of US raised Filipinas and Koreans marry another race – these are incredibly high rates of out marriage. Indian women on the other hand are most likely to stick to Indian men. Across the board, US raised Asians are far more likely to marry out than Asian raised Asians. It’s also interesting to note that for both Asian men and women, Filipinos are the most likely to marry out.

Asian / Black Marriage by Nationality and Gender

So now let’s look at Asian and Black marriages in the US in more detail.

john legend wedding
John Legend, Mega-star musician, and his wife, Chrissy Teigen.

Black Men, Asian Women – BMAW
(% of married Asian women married to Black men)

  • 4.6% of US Pacific Islander women
  • 4.0% of US Raised Filipina women
  • 3.4% of Asian Raised Japanese women
  • 2.3% of Asian Raised Filipina women
  • 1.8% of US Raised Indian women
  • 1.6% of US Raised Korean women
  • 1.3% of Asian Raised Korean women
  • 0.7% of US Raised Chinese women
  • 0.7% of US Raised Japanese women
  • 0.5% of US Raised Vietnamese women
  • 0.4% of Asian Raised Indian women
  • 0.2% of Asian Raised Chinese women
  • 0.1% of Asian Raised Vietnamese women

In summary, for BMAWs:

  • 5.0% of US cohabiting Asian women are living with Black men
  • 4.6% of US Pacific Islander women are married to Black men
  • 1.7% of  US raised Asian women are married to Black men
  • 0.9% of Asian raised Asian women are married to Black men
  • 1.1% of US Black men are married to Asian women

By percentages, these are not terribly large numbers, but when converted to numbers, there were 42,254 BMAW marriages in 2010. Additionally, 5% of all unmarried Asian and Pacific Islander females living with male partners were living with Black men which converted to another 9,434 BMAW households. In total, there were 51,688 BMAW households in 2010. Today we estimate that there are 51,000 BMAW marriages and 13,000 unmarried BMAW households for a total estimated 64,000 BMAW households in 2015.

Chuck Johnson, martial artist / stuntman, and his wife, Mari Tobita Johnson.
Chuck Johnson, martial artist / stuntman, and his wife, Mari Tobita Johnson.

For Black men, the Asian women most likely to marry them are US Pacific Islanders, US raised Filipinas, Indians, and Koreans, and Asian raised Japanese and Filipinas. When you convert the percentages into numbers of BMAW couples, the pie chart below shows the breakdown of BMAW marriages. While Filipinos make up the largest percentage of BMAW marriages by number, Black men should not overlook Pacific Islander women who are fewer in numbers, but statistically marry Black men at higher rates. Note that in addition to 4.6% of Pacific Islander women being married to Black men, 10.4% of unmarried cohabiting Pacific Islander women are living with Black men.

BMAW Marriages p1
Other Asians include: Pakistani, Hmong, Cambodian, Unspecificed Asians, Taiwanese, Laotian, Thai, Bangladeshi, Burmese, Indonesian, Nepalese, Sri Lankan, Malaysian, Bhutanese, Mongolian, Singaporean, Okinawan, and Maldivian. None of the groups are more than 2% of BMAWs.

While the numbers in this article cover the US in total, see ABC’s exclusive in depth US Census analysis of BMAW Married Couples in the state of California here.

Asian Men, Black Women – AMBW
(% of married Asian men married to Black women)

  • 1.0% of US Raised Filipino men
  • 0.9% of US Raised Indian men
  • 0.9% of US Pacific Islander men
  • 0.8% of US Raised Korean men
  • 0.3% of US Raised Japanese men
  • 0.2% of Asian Raised Indian men
  • 0.2% of US Raised Vietnamese men
  • 0.1% of US Raised Chinese men
  • 0.1% of Asian Raised Chinese men
  • 0.1% of Asian Raised Korean men
  • less than 0.1% of Asian Raised Filipino men
  • less than 0.1% of Asian Raised Japanese men
  • less than 0.1% of Asian Raised Vietnamese men

In summary, for AMBWs:

  • 1.0% of US cohabiting Asian men are living with Black women
  • 0.9% of US Pacific Islander men are married to Black women
  • 0.5% of US raised Asian men are married to Black women
  • 0.1% of Asian raised Asian men are married to Black women
  • 0.2% of US Black women are married to Asian men
yan yang nenah ada yang
Artist, Yan Yang, and his wife, Nenah Ada Yang.

AMBW marriages are very small in percentages and numbers. In the 2010 census, there were 6,677 AMBW marriages and 1,359 unmarried AMBW households for a total 8,036 AMBW households. We estimate that today there are ~8,000 AMBW marriages and ~2,000 unmarried AMBW households for a total estimated 10,000 AMBW households in 2015. While AMBW households are fairly small, the AMBW community is very active on the internet with several AMBW meetup groups, internet groups, blogs, and the like. There are roughly 6.4 times more BMAW households than AMBW households, but there are clearly far more AMBW related sites than BMAW related sites in the Blasian couples online world – see the Groups, Blogs and Resources page for more details.

Chef, Yohei Kamiya, and his wife and blogger, Tara Kamiya.
Chef, Yohei Kamiya, and his wife and blogger, Tara Kamiya.

For Black women, US raised Filipinos, Indians, Pacific Islanders, and Korean men are most likely to marry Black women. It does not mean that other Asian men won’t marry Black women, it is just more rare when it does happen. However given the large AMBW presence online and in meetup groups, maybe that will change over time. Below is the breakdown of all AMBW marriages from the 2010 census. Indian AMBWs are the largest group of married AMBWs. The Other Asians 22% slice of the pie chart requires more analysis as likely several of these individual groups will represent more than 2% of AMBW marriages.

AMBW Marriages Pie1
Other Asians include: Pakistani, Hmong, Cambodian, Unspecificed Asians, Taiwanese, Laotian, Thai, Bangladeshi, Burmese, Indonesian, Nepalese, Sri Lankan, Malaysian, Bhutanese, Mongolian, Singaporean, Okinawan, and Maldivian. Several of these groups likely represent more than 2% of AMBWs and require more study.

While the numbers in this article cover the US in total, see ABC’s exclusive in depth US Census analysis of AMBW Married Couples in the state of California here.

Summary

Fitness guru and Tae Bo creator, Billy Blanks, married his Japanese wife Tomoko Sato Blanks when he was 53 and she was 39 and he legally adopted her two kids from another relationship. They also have one daughter together.
Fitness guru and Tae Bo creator, Billy Blanks, and his wife Tomoko Sato Blanks.

As described in What’s Driving the Growth of Blasian Couples, while starting from small numbers, Asian and Black couples are the 3rd fastest growing type of interracial couple in the US growing in an exponential fashion as shown in the graph below. As more Asians and Blacks come in contact with each other and interact on a regular basis, nature will take it’s course and Blasian couples will continue to flourish. Across the US, in certain places like New York city, SoCal, or Honolulu, you will see far more Blasian couples than most other places, and at the other end of the spectrum, in 2010 there were still 4 states without a single Blasian residing there – Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, and Montana. Where you call home likely impacts your view of Blasian couples. When groups are small, but growing, like Blasian couples are, it’s important to a) as this blog attempts to do, know the facts and not believe the random hype you see or hear on the internet and elsewhere, b) have support groups of similarly minded people as the Groups, Blogs, and Resources page attempts to lay out, c) have some role models that give you inspiration and draw a wider audience to better understand your  small group like the Celebrity Blasian Couples pages attempt to provide, and d) see some regular images of other people or couples that fit your group as the sister Asian Black Couple tumbler photo blog attempts to provide.

Blasian births by year serve as a good proxy for Blasian couple relationships in the US.
Blasian births by year serve as a good proxy for Blasian couple relationships in the US.

While the numbers are such that some Blasian couples will find themselves trailblazing and currently standing out from the crowd, the future for Blasian couples is bright. Numbers never tell the full story, and the more Blasian couples I speak with convinces me that we have only scratched the surface when it comes to the future growth of Blasian couples.

As always, appreciate your thoughts in the comments. Also feel free to share your thoughts on this blog post at the ABC Forums at this link. Good luck to everyone.

-fyi, the cover featured photo is Kevin Johnson, former NBA star and current mayor of Sacramento, CA, and his Korean wife, Michelle Rhee.

ABC1

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