Interracial marriages are still relatively rare in the U.S., but the number is growing. In 1970, just three years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws across the country that prohibited interracial marriages, less than 2 percent of marriages in the United States were interracial. Today, that number is almost 6 percent. NPR’s Katia Riddle brings us this profile of one interracial couple in Cleveland.
The first time Rochelle Wawracz saw her future husband, she was waiting tables in a restaurant in Minneapolis.
“I noticed him immediately,” she says. “He was not sitting in my section. But I went and filled up his soda because I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. And I just, I remember walking back to the waitress station and saying, ‘That man is so beautiful.’ ”
With her Scandinavian roots, Wawracz is a quintessential Minnesotan. She figured the guy was from another country, and she’d probably never see him again. Varnesh Sritharan is from Sri Lanka, but he was living in Minneapolis at the time, working at a law firm downtown. He came in that day with some co-workers.
“Initially we went there for the burgers,” he recalls. “After Rochelle started being our server, we decided to go there probably two, three times a week to see if we could run into her.”
After Sritharan asked her out, Wawracz says she knew within the first two months that he was the one. They were married in a traditional Sri Lankan ceremony in the Twin Cities.
Fast-forward eight years. Now they live in Cleveland and have a 1-year-old son, Kai. On this day, Wawracz feeds Kai an early dinner. She and Sritharan are a striking couple — the contrast between his dark skin and her pale complexion is dramatic. The couple says the difference doesn’t go unnoticed.
Will society ever be non-chalant about interracial marriages? Or, are they always going to matter? What do you think?