Asian Americans are in more and more TV commercials these days, but when I saw this Wells Fargo ad, it immediately caught my attention. Rather than the familiar white man Asian woman couple commonly portrayed in commercials, it has an Asian guy married to a non-Asian woman of color (either African American or Latina or both – hard to really tell here). There have been a few commercials with an Asian male in an interracial relationship like this one of Asian male and white female, but I personally don’t recall any commercials with this particular pairing. I also like the fact that the Asian American guy isn’t a nerd or martial artist and seems pretty outgoing and worldly.
While Wells Fargo has been in the news lately for a variety of problems and lapses in judgment, I would have to agree with the commercial that eating out a lot can really strain a budget. This ad was part of Wells Fargo’s rebranding efforts called This is Wells Fargo.
The NY Times ran an interesting infographic last week showing an interesting snapshot of mixed race marriages in America, and in particular of how prevalent mixed race marriages are in Asian America. One of the interesting trends was that in the Asian American community mixed race marriages are down from 1980. For Asian Men in 2009, 104 out of every 1000 marriages are mixed race, down from 138 in 1980. For Asian Women in 2009, 234 out of every 1000 marriages are mixed race, down from 284 in 1980.
Another blogger at Asian Nation commented that the decrease in mixed marriages in the Asian American community may be due to the influx of Asian immigrants, who are more likely to marry another Asian.
The NY Times infographic is actually tied to a story about mixed race young adults and how they are increasingly identifying themselves as multi-racial (unlike for example, President Barack Obama, who self identified on the U.S. Census as black even though his parents are of different races). Stories like this one always make me wonder how my own 5 year old daughter is going to self-identify as she gets older, as she’s half-Asian and half-white. I can only hope she embraces both of her cultural identities as many of these young adults have.
For those that have never really caught it before, yes, I am in an interracial relationship. So understanding quite well that I too am a part of this Pew statistic where one in seven new marriages are interracial or inter-ethnic, I thought it would be fascinating to throw in my two cents on why this is happening instead of speaking on the statistical study itself.
This news story has drawn nearly universal indignation as even the most knuckle dragging traditionalists among us mostly agrees that the 1967 Supreme Court decision that recognizing multiracial marriage was a good idea. Many would even consider it silly that in 2009 the nation should be debating the benefits and costs of interracial marriage.
It is true that interracial marriages tend to encounter more difficulties than same race marriages but so does marriages between those of different education levels, between people who marry in their early twenties and teens, and also among people who smoke. If one wishes to eliminate interracial marriage on the grounds that those marriages tend not to last then one should also deny marriage to those who haven’t received a college education, haven’t reached 25 and those who haven’t yet quit smoking. Otherwise, one would be in danger of being hypocritical.
As the couple in question themselves have stated, interracial marriage already suffers from covert discrimination, any attempt at open discrimination needs to be dealt with mercilessly. As Asian Americans, I feel evidence of covert discrimination in interracial relationships is well known to us all. From our friends who whisper “I don’t like it when I see white people dating Asians” upon seeing an interracial couple visiting a Bubble Tea house to websites — and comments from our own site — committed to bring a greater stigma to Asians who want to explore relationships outside their own ethnicity, covert discrimination is in many cases tolerated, even encouraged. Although I do not believe that believe that such discrimination will lead to unfair laws or wanton physical harm, it is important for us to recognize and eradicate veiled discrimination in ourselves.