Bvblackspin summarizes a recent March 2011 poll by Public Policy Polling of 400 Mississippi Republicans, which found the following:
….46 percent of [these] Mississippians believe that interracial marriage should be illegal.
Add in the uncertain responses on interracial marriage and you have some 60 percent of these almost entirely white Republicans not currently supportive of intermarriage being legal.
And this is the year 2011 in the 21st century, the era many claim to be well beyond white racism. I guess that claim is a bit premature, especially in the Deep South. (The link to the full pdf report is here.)
Mississippi is the Deep South and arguably one of the geographical centers of aggressive white supremacy in the U.S.. Recall that this is the state where Medgar Evers was shot and killed, and where federal marshals were shot when James Meredith tried to enter the University of Mississippi in 1962.
The current governor, Haley Barbour, is a candidate for the Republican nomination, and a politician with some past connections to white supremacist organizations. Yet he has also recently signed a bill for a civil rights museum in Jackson as well. Hopefully, this is a sign of change in the state, although clearly the governor has his eye on national office too. The intent of the poll was to measure the strength of support for various Republican politicians, and Barbour does well with this group.
I was just giving a lecture at the University of Mississippi, which has lots of fine students, faculty, and administrators trying to deal with the past and present legacies of racism in the state, and in this nation. Clearly, they have some big tasks ahead of them if the majority white, mostly Republican population cannot even bring itself into the 21st century and at least accept the legality of interracial intermarriage. Indeed, according to U.S. Census reports, racial intermarriages make up about seven percent of all U.S. marriages, and this figure is now increasing. It appears that Mississippi’s white Republicans are not ready for these changes, there and nationally. One can imagine the implications of such framing for their encounters with interracial couples in their everyday lives.
Note too that almost all U.S. intermarriages today are still within racial groups. Notable too is that a substantial majority of these intermarriages involving white partners are between whites and non-black groups, not between whites and blacks. One recent Census survey (see here) estimated that among white husbands some 50,224,000 had white wives, while just 117,000 had black wives. In contrast, 530,000 of these white husbands had Asian American wives and 489,000 had wives from other nonblack groups. The negative framing of possible black partners seems the strongest racist framing for white men when it comes to interracial partnering issues.