What’s Driving The Growth In Blasian Couples and Blasians?

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Howie Williams, former NFL defensive back with Green Bay, San Fran, and Oakland for 9 seasons and starter in Superbowl II with the Oakland Raiders, his Japanese wife Tye Williams and their son. They married in 1958.
Howie Williams, former NFL defensive back with Green Bay, San Fran, and Oakland for 9 seasons who started in Superbowl II with the Oakland Raiders, with his Japanese wife Tye Williams and their son. They married in 1958.

Census records show that Blasians in America have existed since before 1900. Since those early Blasians were born, the number of Blasians in the US have grown steadily in a near exponential growth curve.

Blasians By Year of Birth1

What’s causing the continual growth of both Blasians and hence Asian and Black couples in the US? No doubt in historical times, US Black military presence in Asia was the major driver of Asian and Black relationships, but is the military still the big growth driver for Blasian couples today?

peewee_michiko-3-BW
Robert “Peewee” Hill, African American, and Michiko Hill, Japanese. They have been playing music together since the 70s in the LA area as well as releasing globally distributed albums. They are also the parents of Judith Hill, a former Michael Jackson backup singer and breakout contestant from “The Voice” a few years back.

The Facts About Blasian Couples and Blasians in the US

Before we dig into that question deeper, first let’s put some facts on the table from the US census data:

– In 2010, there were 243,000 Blasians in US and there are an estimated 285,000 Blasians today in 2015.

– In the 2010 census, Blasians were the 3rd fastest growing interracial population having grown by 74% from 2000 to 2010. Blasian growth was 3rd fastest after the Black and White population which grew 134% and the Asian and White population which grew 87%.

– Blasians are a fairly young population with 50% of US Blasians being under the age of 19 and 80% of US Blasians being 40 or younger. Despite being a fairly young population, there were about 25 Blasians over the age of 100 in 2010.

– Blasians are still a tiny population in the US at less than 1% of the US population. Blasians only approach 1% of the population in 2 cities in the US – Honolulu, HI, and Vallejo, CA.

– The New York city metro area has the most Blasians in the US at about 42,000 in 2015 followed by the LA metro area at about 20,000. California has the most Blasians as a state at nearly 50,000 in 2015.

– In 2010, there were 49,000 Blasian couple marriages and there are an estimated 59,000 Blasian couple marriages now in 2015.

– There were an additional 11,000 unmarried Blasian couples living together in 2010 with an estimated 15,000 unmarried Blasian households in 2015.

– Roughly 7,300 Blasians were born in 2010 and an estimated 8,400 Blasians will be born in 2015.

– While international data on Blasians is tough to obtain, it is very likely that the US Blasian population is the largest Blasian population in the world. The countries with likely Blasian populations of any size are Canada, UK, Brazil, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, and Guyana. Asian countries with either former or current US military presence still have small Blasian populations, namely Japan, Philippines, South Korea, and Vietnam. Also China has a growing Blasian community primarily in Guangzhou due to the numerous African traders that have set up shop there. All of these countries likely have Blasian populations much smaller than the US Blasian population.

So in the US, while still a tiny percent of the US population, we have the world’s largest Blasian population growing fast in an exponential fashion. What’s causing the continual growth of Blasian couples and Blasians, particularly in more recent years.

US Black Military Presence in Asia

A young Tiger Woods with his father, Earl Woods, a US Army infantry officer who served two tours of duty in Vietnam, and retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel, and his Thai born mother, Kultida Punsawad Woods, mixed Thai, Chinese, and Dutch.
A young Tiger Woods with his father, Earl Woods, a US Army infantry officer who served two tours of duty in Vietnam, and retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel, and Tiger’s Thailand born mother, Kultida Punsawad Woods, mixed Thai, Chinese, and Dutch.

In historical times, with Blacks representing nearly 30% of the US military – while only being about 10% of the general population – without a doubt, Black military presence in Asian countries was a huge contributor to historical Blasian and Blasian couple growth in the US. Black servicemen, similar to their White military brothers, returned to the US with either Asian war brides or having fathered children in Asia. In more recent years however, the percent of Blacks in the US military has fallen to about 20%, most of the US military bases in the Philippines have closed, and there have not been any large scale active military campaigns in Asia in recent times. Among cities smaller than 500,000 people, the cities with the highest concentrations of Blasian kids and Blasian families are all military base cities with the top 5 being Vallejo/Fairfield, CA with Travis Air Force Base, Killeen/Temple, TX with Fort Hood,  Fayetteville, NC with Fort Bragg, Hinesville, GA with Fort Stewart, and Lawton, OK with Fort Sill. All of these military base cities have Blasian concentrations at 2.5 times to over 6 times the national averages. The higher than average number of Blasian kids and Blasian families in many US military cities even today proves that US Black military presence in Asia is still a big contributor to Blasian growth, but with overall US Black military presence in Asia declining, it’s highly unlikely that Black military involvement is fueling all of today’s Blasian growth.

Also while we are discussing the US military, I would be remiss if I did not publicly acknowledge and thank all of our military service men and women (Black, White, Blue, and Green – it doesn’t matter) for their service to our country. I have the utmost respect for what they do every day to make America the great country that it is today. When I see our service men and women in my daily travels around the country, I always take time out to thank them for their service.

Growing Interactions of Asians and Blacks

Blasian Salsa
In certain US cities, Asians and Blacks regularly interact at work, at school, in church, and at social venues such as salsa dancing. These regular interactions are the building blocks for future Blasian couple relationships.

I think the answer to what is starting to drive Blasian and Blasian couples growth over and above the US Black military involvement is very simple – a steadily growing interaction of Asians and Blacks in the US and abroad. Sure, there are several underlying and related factors that are causing these interactions and we will discuss some of them here, but the root of them all is as simple as put 100 Asians and 100 Blacks in close working, learning, or living environments, and over time Asian and Black relationships, couples, marriages, and Blasian babies will start to emerge. Social scientists who research and study Asian American dating and relationships have found that the number one factor leading to high rates of Asian out marriage is what they call propinquity, which in lay person terms is simply closing the physical and psychological distance between people and forming a closeness with a person of another race. In other words, put Asians and Blacks in regular contact with each other and let nature take it’s course. Also to be clear, this increased interaction of Asians and Blacks is not happening uniformly across the country, but rather starting in certain US cities today and likely spreading to other cities from there. We likely have just scratched the surface of what Blasian growth will look like in the future.

Several related factors are all leading to these growing interactions of Asians and Blacks today. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Increase of Minority Majority Cities
Where Minorities Became the Majority Between 2000 and 2013

Social scientists now predict that the US will become a minority majority country by 2040, meaning that minorities as a whole will be the majority in America, not White people. Sometimes this is also called majority minority, but it is the same thing. Slower birth rates in White families, higher birth rates in minority families, and increased immigration, especially from Asia, are all contributing to this transition. Indeed in 2012, minority babies became the majority for the first time ever in the US, and in 2014, minority K-12 students became the majority for the first time ever in the US. Today in 2015, 24 large metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), all with populations over 500,000, are already minority majority. Pew Research Center also reports that 266 counties in the US are minority majority with 78 of them becoming minority majority since 2000 (see the charts above and below). By and large, the “Sun Belt” or warmer states are the first areas to convert to minority majority.

Counties with a Majority Minority Are Mostly in Sun Belt

As minorities become the majority in more and more cities, the opportunities for Asian and Black interaction are also naturally increasing as we have already seen in the 24 large MSAs that are minority majority today. Indeed, when we look at the Asian Black Couples Top 15 Cities for Black and Asian Dating, all of the 15 cities are already minority majority except for one – Seattle, which has been well known as an interracial haven for Black men for some time now.

Top 15 Metros For Black and Asian Dating 2015

It is likely more than just coincidence that 14 of the best cities for Black and Asian dating as measured by 10 different statistics, are cities that are also already minority majority where they are already experiencing increasing Asian and Black interaction.

More Asian Immigration to the US

asian_immigrationThrough immigration mainly, Asian Americans have been the fastest growing single race population in the US since 2010. Asians are expected to double from today’s 5% of the US population to 10% of the US population by 2040 due to both Asian immigration and a higher Asian birth rate than Whites. In the cities experiencing increased Asian immigration, more Asians in the US obviously leads to more Asian and Black interaction in the workplace, in schools and colleges, and in neighborhoods and neighborhood venues like shopping malls and restaurants.

More 2nd and 3rd Generation Asians Becoming More Americanized

asian americanizationWhile 1st generation Asian Americans can cling tightly to Asian traditions and biases, all social science research shows that by the 3rd generation in America, Asians (as well as other immigrant groups) become much more Americanized and hence much more open to interaction with Blacks. As Eddie Huang, the author, restaurateur, and creator of television series Fresh Off The Boat vividly illustrates through his stories, it is not uncommon at all for younger Asian Americans to identify with and be accustomed to Black culture as a way to “fit in” as a minority when they do not feel particularly embraced by White America. This fits with what I hear from other younger Asians in California as well. Many younger 2nd generation and beyond Asians are as well versed on rap music, the NBA, and sneaker culture as younger Blacks – see the Fung Bros YouTube channel for proof of this. While older Asian Americans may still hold on to long held biases, it’s very refreshing to see a new crop of 2nd, 3rd, and beyond generation Asian Americans who view Blacks as “cool”, “creative”, and “fun to hang out with”.

Technology and Globalization Make Connecting Much Easier

globalizationThe world that Americans operate in today is becoming more and more global. In the past, it was primarily US Black soldiers who had the best opportunities to visit Asia. Today more Blacks are conducting business in Asia, managing business teams in Asia, teaching English in Asia, taking expat assignments in Asia, working with associates in Asia, and traveling to Asia for both work and leisure. Additionally, with the internet and smart phones, Asian friends and associates are only a click away with tools such as Skype, WeChat, Kakao Talk, Line, and Viber, all of which offer free real time text, voice, and video communications between the US and Asia. Online groups aimed at helping Asians and Blacks meet and converse on Facebook and other social media sites make it easy to connect and build Asian and Black friendships online. Indeed some Asians and Blacks even date internationally with the array of technology tools and relatively affordable travel options available. Today, myself and many others regularly keep in touch with many friends in Asia with the convenience of the smart phone and the internet.

Other Contributing Growth Factors

While increased interaction of Asians and Blacks due to many related reasons is likely the key growth driver for Blasians over and above the impact of US Black military involvement, there are a few other likely contributing growth drivers.

Growth of Celebrity Blasian Couples

Power Blasian couple, Kevin Johnson, mayor of Sacramento, CA and former NBA star and his Korean wife, Michelle Rhee, former Chancellor of the Washington DC schools and current CEO of St. Hope Public Schools in Sacramento
Power Blasian couple, Kevin Johnson, mayor of Sacramento, CA and former NBA star, and his Korean wife, Michelle Rhee, former Chancellor of the Washington DC schools and current CEO of St. Hope Public Schools in Sacramento.

As documented in the ABC celebrity Blasian couple listings on this blog, before the year 2000, there were about 10 or less celebrity Blasian couples and none of them were real household names with the exception of maybe Redd Foxx and Russell Simmons. Since 2000, the total number of celebrity Blasian couples has increased by at least 9 times. Since 2000, there have also been a good number of A-list celebrities in Blasian relationships at one time or another like Diddy, Dave Chappelle, Sugar Shane Mosley, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, Brian McKnight, and Terrence Howard. Even world soccer legend, Pelé, from Brazil recently married his long term Japanese girlfriend. Today there are at least 90 currently married or long term dating celebrity Blasian couples as documented in the ABC celebrity Blasian couple listings. As I mentioned in an earlier post, seeing is believing, and when young people in particular see the celebrities they follow dating or married in Blasian couple relationships, it makes it a viable possibility for them in their mind and lessens any mental barriers they may have previously held about Blasian couple relationships. This is indeed part of why I document celebrity Blasian couples in this blog.

Rising Age of Marriage

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, married his Japanese wife Tomoko Sato Blanks when he was 53 and she was 39. He also legally adopted her two kids from another relationship and they have one daughter together.

Americans are getting married later and later and social scientists have shown that this is a contributing factor to interracial marriages in general. By marrying at a later age, people have more life experience and hence they are much more open to interracial dating, as opposed to people who marry younger who tend to marry people who look just like them. The average age of first marriage in the United States is now 27 for women and 29 for men, up from 23 for women and 26 for men in 1990. Another factor that comes into play for Asian and Black marriages is that historically in many Asian countries, Asian women are considered old maids after the age of 26 to 30 (varies by Asian country) and some countries even have terms for this phenomenon. For instance in China, after about 26, women are called sheng nu (剩女; shèngnǚ) which is commonly translated as “leftover women” or “leftover ladies”. Beyond this age, historically Chinese men of any age simply will not marry them preferring to marry younger Chinese women for various cultural reasons. Similarly in Japan, after the age of 25, unmarried women were called “leftover Christmas cake” or “dojuko” (毒女) which translates to “single lonely woman”. With fewer marriages occurring in Japan these days, sources indicate that now the “old maid” age for Japanese women has risen to 30. Many of these “old maid” Asian women by Asian standards will seek western partners, including Black men, for marriage since western men are much less sensitive about marrying older women. This is discussed a bit further in an earlier post on the Top Asian Dating Sites.

Lessening of Negative Stereotypes for Both Asians and Blacks

Michael Erina
Marriages like Michael and Erina are happening more frequently with acceptance and celebration from both families.

Finally, while we still have a long way to go, negative stereotypes held by both Asians and Blacks about each other are starting to lessen. For instance many Asian women in Blasian relationships report enjoying the fact that they can simply just be who they are with Black men, without feeling any need to conform to certain majority standards. There are more and more Blasian couples where you can see how much fun and happiness they are experiencing together. Blasian couple engagements and marriages are quite normal and celebrated in many cities across the US. As more Asians in particular have great relationship experiences with Blacks, it will slowly but surely start to become an irreversible trend since at the end of the day, we all just want to be happy. The typical thinking goes, “If Erina is having so much fun and happiness with a Black guy like Michael, maybe I should give it a try as well”. As minorities, both Asians and Blacks know the common struggles of being a minority and can often relate to each other very well through this shared understanding. Also when you remove the different terms and styles, there are more similarities between Asian and Black culture and food than people often realize. Perception changes take time, but you can see these changes occurring slowly but surely in real life today.

Summary

arthel1
Arthel Neville, African American and Creole, is a popular journalist and TV news anchor. Arthel is also the daughter of Art Neville, a very popular New Orleans funk musician. Her husband, Taku Hirano, Japanese, is a percussionist /musician. They have been happily married since 2001.

Similar to other interracial couples, social scientists have determined that Blasian couples tend to marry because of four important facts: shared common interests, the attractiveness of the partner, shared similar entertainment interests, and socioeconomic similarity. Race tends to be far less important in selecting an Asian or Black partner for marriage than nonracial factors, and people are wrong to assume that Blasian couples get together simply because of jungle fever or yellow fever. Just like other couples, Blasian couples are typically attracted to each other over time based on regular shared interactions, and resulting similarities rather than differences. As most Blasian couples will tell you, other than dealing with the nonsense that others hold about race, at the end of the day, race has very little to do with the day to day lives of successful Blasian couples.

As mentioned earlier in this post, the growth of Blasian couples and Blasians is as simple as putting 100 Asians and 100 Blacks in close working, learning, or living environments for some time, and watching the Blasian relationships, couples, marriages, and babies that will undoubtedly emerge. Fortunately, Asians and Blacks are already seeing this type of increased interaction today in certain cities. I expect that Blasian couples and Blasians have just scratched the surface of what can be, and that we will see Asian and Black interactions continue to grow and prosper long into the future. I welcome your thoughts in the comments as always. Also feel free to share your thoughts on this blog post on the Asian Black Couples Forums at this link.

ABC1

3 COMMENTS

  1. I thank you for the well-written piece, but want to comment that the section on Asians losing language and culture can be a bit overgeneralizing- in recent years I definitely have seen more effort in parents of Asian descent passing on their heritage language and increasing their children’s exposure to their home culture. This easily translates into the Asian parent in the Blasian relationship passing along their part of the culture as well and it is not a one-way immersion into American/African-American culture. In our household we definitely try to speak my heritage language as much as possible and maintain our daughter’s cultural ties to my side of the culture. It would be interesting to see a piece on factors like educational level, connection to home country, and socioeconomic status in influencing the Blasian children’s absorption of their Asian parent’s native culture.

    • Boddhisatvak,

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment. I have seen the same increased efforts by Asian parents in America to pass on their culture and language in recent years. In fact in recent years, Asian marriage to other races has declined slightly and some say that this is due to Asian American parents increasing the importance of Asian culture with their children more recently. Others say it’s due to Asian young adults having more Asians to date as Asians continue to immigrate to the US faster than any other group. In any event, your comment is worth noting that 2nd and 3rd generation Asian Americans may not be totally assimilating into American culture as fast as is often thought, and instead may be holding onto their Asian cultures and languages longer.

      Thanks for the article suggestion as well. There is some data on that topic and we will add it to our list of potential future articles. Thank you for visiting the ABC blog and best wishes to you.

  2. I love this site…and its good seeing Blasian couples truly enjoying each other’s company…yeah, I was a bit down because this Asian sister I’ve been after for a minute didn’t wanna go on a date with me, because, what I feel is an obligation to her parents to stay within the race ( educated asian family from overseas that immigrated to the states decades ago). Even though like the Fung Bros. list says, she was a cross between a church asian girl and a good child asian girl…though we share the same religion and activities, I feel she doesn’t want to disappoint her parents even though she is over 30 freekin’ years old…I learned my lesson and will try to meet more sistas who are actually interested in my culture, as well as, not worrying about pleasing her parents to a fault

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