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A Pew Research Center study, released Thursday, details a diversifying America where interracial unions and the mixed-race children they produce are challenging typical notions of race.

"The rise in interracial marriage indicates that race relations have improved over the past quarter century," said Daniel Lichter, a sociology professor at Cornell University.

Blacks are now substantially more likely than before to marry whites.

For purposes of defining interracial marriages, Hispanic is counted as a race by many in the demographic field.

RELATED: KENTUCKY CHURCH REVISITS INTERRACIAL COUPLE BAN AFTER UPROAR The study finds that 8.4 percent of all current U. marriages are interracial, up from 3.2 percent in 1980.

Due to increasing interracial marriages, multiracial Americans are a small but fast-growing demographic group, making up about 9 million, or 8 percent of the minority population. "Race is a social construct; race isn't real," said Jonathan Brent, 28.

Together with blacks, Hispanics and Asians, the Census Bureau estimates they collectively will represent a majority of the U. The son of a white father and Japanese-American mother, Brent helped organize multiracial groups in southern California and believes his background helps him understand situations from different perspectives.

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