America's Color Line: How Immigration and Intermarriage Shifted the Landscape - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  964 Words
Date:  2022-12-27


America in the past has been defined by two significant races the blacks and the whites. The white was the primary race whereas the blacks were the minority (Lee & Frank 221). In the 20thcentury, there was a defined impenetrable color line dividing the two races. In recent years there has been increased immigration into the country as well as increased intermarriages between races.

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This has changed how the color line is defined as it has now become less rigid to accommodate the newcomers in the country. With the intermarriages, there has been an emergence of the multiracial population. There now exists new color lines other than the traditional black/white line (Lee & Frank 223). More people are also now identifying with more than one race because they can trace their roots from different races and ethnic groups. This article will discuss the emerging color lines as well as the increasing multiracial diversity in the country.

The Color Line

In the early 20thcentury, the number of immigrants coming to the United States from Europe had significantly reduced compared to the earlier centuries. Other immigrants from Ireland and Italy were now migrating to America and given that they were coming from the same region as those who were considered white, they too believed themselves to be white. Though from different ethnic groups as the original immigrants from England, these took up extreme measures to distinguish and distance themselves from the blacks who were the earlier immigrants to the United States (Lee & Frank 230). At this point, the color line defined people based on their biological origins.

In more recent years, however, race and color line definition has been more of social and cultural status and not based on one's ancestry. The racial and ethnic landscape in America has been altered due to the immigration of nonblack individuals from Latin America and Asia. There have been efforts by some nonwhite groups to change their racial status to white by adapting the white way of life, achieving economic mobility as the whites and distancing themselves from the blacks even looking down on those from their ethnic groups that intermarried with the blacks.

As a result of the intermarriages; however, there was a birth of a new generation that couldn't fit in either the whites group or the blacks. These have been incorporated into the country's social structure. This assimilation has not been smooth for the African Americans in the country as the process does not take into account their experiences and though they have been culturally assimilated, they have not attained an up to par economic in cooperation. This limitation still meant that there is still a distinguishable color line between the blacks and the whites including the Non-European immigrants into the country (Lee & Frank 233).

Multiracial Identification

When the census was conducted in the United States in the past years up to 2000, individuals were only allowed to tick one box to identify their race. When Americans were allowed to mark more than one box for their race, it emerged that one in forty people identified as multiracial (Lee & Frank 241). The increase in the multiracial population has been brought about by the rise in marriages between the non-white immigrants and the whites in America as well as with the

African American community. The birth of the new generation Americans who belong to more than one ethnic group emerged. These can trace their roots to two races and some in the subsequent multiracial generations can trace their origins to more than two races. Most of the parents in interracial marriages choose to identify their children as white if their partner is a non-black immigrant whereas those born to couples with African American partners are considered black.The choice of racial identification by the younger generation of multiracial is affected by quite several variables. One of the factors is their generational status (Lee & Frank 239). An example is the first generation biracial Asians are more likely to be identified as Asians whereas the ethnic.

Identification fades with subsequent generations. Bilingualism is another factor. Children born in multiracial families and speak a second language apart from English especially at home are more likely to identify as non-whites. The neighborhood in which the multiracial children are raised affects their identification. When a child is exposed to the culture of the minority race, they are likely to adapt their ways as well as their multiracial identity. This is what has contributed to the geographical distribution of those who identify as multiracial; the evidence shows that the ones who stay closer to regions dominated by the minority group are the ones who identify as multiracial more often than not (Lee & Frank 240). The blacks, however, are less likely to report a multiracial status and are more constrained to one race due to their history as immigrant slaves and the discrimination based on the one-drop rule that does not apply to the Latinos Asians and the American Indians.

Just like the interracial marriages, the multiracial population is likely to continue to grow in the United States. The new immigrant groups commonly identify as multiracial, increasing this particular population.


The color lines in America appear to be fading with time because there has been increasingly diverse immigration into the United States. There has also been an increase in the interracial marriages leading to the emergence and rise in the multiracial population. This has led to the reduction of social prejudice and weakening racial boundaries. Although the racial boundaries are fading, they are not doing so at the same rate for all races; there still exists some color line between the immigrants and the whites.

Works Cited

Lee and Frank. "America's Changing Color Lines: Immigration, Race/Ethnicity, and Multiracial Identification." Annu. Rev. Sociol. 30 (2004): 221-242.

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America's Color Line: How Immigration and Intermarriage Shifted the Landscape - Essay Sample. (2022, Dec 27). Retrieved from

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