Mississippi Republicans Oppose Racial Intermarriage

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.


  1. Maria


    The negative framing of black partners is evident in my research on lawyers as well. I asked the respondents about marital status and partner’s ethnic/racial background. Sixty eight percent of Latinos Latino Lawyers (n=102) indicated they were married but only 2.1 percent of those marriages were with black partners. 73.2 percent the group of white Lawyers (n=757) were married and 0 percent had a black spouse! On the other extreme, 47 percent of the Latino lawyers indicated their spouse was white and 68 percent of the white lawyers were married to other whites.

    • Blaque Swan, previously No1KState

      @ Maria – Okay, uh, wow. I did not see that coming. I mean, I know African Americans are stigmatized by just about every other ethnic group. And I know Latinos (white and nonwhite) and blacks don’t exactly walk arm in arm for whatever reason, perhaps as a result of competing over too few seats of power.

      But I just did not see . . . 2.1%? 0%

      As an individual, I can overcome a lot of stigma. I’m lighter-complected and I have a baby face. I can present myself as have a smaller frame than I do. I can use a Caucasian accent when I want and sometimes even when I don’t. So I can feel pretty good about my attractiveness to anyone of any race (exempting conscious racists, of course).

      That said, as a member of the collective group in question, let me tell ya, I don’t feel too good. I just did not see that coming.

  2. Joe

    Thanks for the note, Maria. TSU Prof. Brittany Slatton has interviewed white men on how they see black women, for a book she is working on, and some 80 percent of these interviews have negative views of black women, often obscenely and extremely negative views. An old and deep white racial framing of black women. That likely accounts for some of the lack of white men/black women intermarriages.

  3. parvenu

    First of all southern white republicans are simply the current generation of the infamous Dixiecrats who bolted the Democratic party when black folks were seated at the Convention. (Ref. Fannie Lou Hammer) Reagan’s southern strategy brought these disaffected Dixiecrats into the Republican party. The ancestors of the Dixiecrats so hated Lincoln’s Republican party that they swore neither them or any member of their clan would ever become a Republican. These are the white people who are still fighting the Civil War with lingering hatred of anyone African American. White Republicans will tolerate any other group, i.e., Mexicans, asian, etc; but among these same white Republicans anybody who is the descendent of a Negro is totally unacceptable and needs to be hung from the closest nearby tree. Keep in mind that Mississippi has already had one lynching this year and in keeping with tradition it still remains unsolved. Do you seriously think that inter-racial marriage could possibly be accepted in such an environment of extreme hatred of African Americans?

  4. Maria

    Good points, but as my study unfortunately highlights, this negative perception of blacks extends beyond the South.

    Blaque Swan, I didn’t see this coming either. And it is very telling. And very disheartening.

  5. ernie5229

    Please, everyone click on the link to the original study in the first paragraph of this article. It must be read! NOWHERE in the article does it mention “Republicans”! It says that 40% of those studied were very conservative. What were the other 60%? Race or color was NEVER mentioned! This article terribly misrepresents the facts of the original study. Furthermore, in my personal experience I have found a much stronger bias to date/marry in the same race exists among minorities. Again, my own personal experience. I saw a study on the news a few weeks ago that said the most biased group was black women wanting to marry only black men. A quick Google search provides many studies with similar results. This (http://ric2.xanga.com/652879023/columbia-university-reveals-racial-preferences-in-dating/) study states that for a white man to have an equal chance to marry a black woman he must earn $220,000 more than his black counterpart. My point? “Preferences” are everywhere among all races, that doesn’t necessarily translate to racism. My other point? Please don’t misrepresent study’s to make your point!

    • kiana

      Ernie there is a BIG difference between what you are saying and what the article depicts. First The article clearly shows that white men are not open enough and misjudge black women. It just simply shows the ignorance and uncivilization that is still there among us in this day and age. Yes black women PREFER black men just like most cultures and races would prefer to marry those the are comfortable with whether its because of similar backgrounds or religion but its also because of the oppression that black women have undergone in this country. After yearsand years of being put down by basically everyone including black men, it’s only natural that they will cling to where they feel that they belong and where (as its obviosly shown) are accepted just like all humans do as they choose friends, neighborhoods, careers and so on. On the contrast white men CHOOSE NOT to invove themselves with black women due to ignorance and arrogance. It is clearly shown that they view black women as inferior to other races among othr negative notions. So get your facts straight, the wrong here is not preference we all know everyone has a right to choose BUT its the reasons behind it that are offensive mostly because of what those actions teach the young. Let me ask you have there been any lynchins that arose out of preference of blacks to white? (hint..its a rhetorical question!!!) Have a nice day;).

  6. Joe

    Actually the polling PDF report very explicitly says it polled “400 Republicans” in Mississippi. I check accuracy on these matters, as you did not. And the general problem is white men, not black women. For example, We have a blog post by Prof. Slatton that will show just how hostile most white men are to black women.

  7. Brittany

    I recently conducted research examining over 100 white men’s perspectives on black women. The white males expressed their views via an in-depth questionnaire. The research showed, overwhelmingly, that the white male respondents, despite most admittedly having very limited experiences with black women, held grossly negative views of them as culturally defunct, domineering, welfare queens, and unattractive unless representing a white aesthetic. A small percentage of white males even viewed black women as a biologically inferior race. This study reveals that white men’s deep seated racist and sexist frame of black women, despite having limited experiences with them, is a substantial explanation for the low intermarriage rate between white men and black women.

  8. ThirtyNine4Ever

    I agree with Maria that it isn’t limited to the south, I would really like to see a poll that is national. I have a feeling that Mississippi republicans aren’t as out of touch with the national base as implied.

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