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AARP The Magazine


The New American Family

Meet 6 clans who embody our country's changing ideas about what kinship is

Into the Mix

Some states banned interracial marriage as late as 1967, when the Supreme Court ruled such laws unconstitutional. Today 15 percent of all new marriages are mixed race.

Modern Factor: When Paula Windham married her husband, Thomas, in 1966, their interracial union was unusual. "Back then it was unheard of," says Paula, 71, who is Chicana. (Thomas, 70, is African American.) "Fortunately, I had a fairly supportive family," Paula continues. "Once they knew what I wanted, they got used to the idea."

The Windhams met in college, and Thomas later became a clinical psychologist. Now semiretired, the couple live in Boulder, Colorado, where they raised three children. Their two sons — Carlos, 42, and Yusef, 39 — live on opposite coasts, but daughter Khadija Rennix, 42, lives a short drive away with her husband, Will, 39; their daughters, Camille, 6, and Anaya, 2; and Khadija's daughter Alicia, 12, whose dad is Khadija's former partner, Eric Lind, 40.

As interracial relationships have grown more common, racial categories have blurred, Paula notes: "We are a mixed-race couple, and our children are also in mixed-race relationships. I think the fact that we've been able to deal with that as a family has led to the longevity of our marriage. It has also given our children a sense that they don't have to check a specific box when they are asked what they are."

Next page: Same-sex marriage (video). »

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