Oh said he found an “ease” in dating a woman with a shared cultural background. The couple wed in 1997 and live in Merrifield.
“There are always going to be cultural explanations with someone who doesn’t understand Asian culture,” said Oh, who has one brother with a wife from Taiwan and another brother who married a white woman.
Non-Hispanic whites make up nearly two thirds of the population, so because of sheer numbers, the bulk of intermarriages have a white spouse.
As intermarriage rates have grown, attitudes have changed dramatically. In a 1986 Roper Poll, two-thirds of the people said they could never imagine themselves marrying someone from a different race. In a 2009 Pew poll, just 6 percent of whites and 3 percent of blacks said they would not accept an interracial marriage in their family.
Dan Lichter, a Cornell University sociologist who has studied intermarriage, said the trend shows the continuing blurring of racial boundaries.
“Different racial and ethnic minorities are increasingly sharing the same social space, in their neighborhoods, their job settings and schools,” Lichter said. “It’s a reflection of declining inequality on a lot of fronts, including income and education.”
But a postracial society remains a long way off, he added.
“Most of the minorities who outmarry are not marrying other minorities,” Lichter said. “They’re outmarrying to whites. It’s not a melting pot.”
Nathan Nash, a black man who is divorced from a Korean American woman he was married to for five years, said that is particularly true for African Americans. A technology consultant who used to live in the District and now lives in Orange County, Calif., Nash said he has Asian friends who would not consider dating blacks.
“In the U.S., race pretty much comes first,” he said. “People are slightly more open to the idea of interracial marriages. But as a country overall, we really identify people first as their race or ethnicity. There’s still a barrier there.”
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