Mulitracial America


In the final part of a three-part series on racial issues, CBS News "Eye on America" takes a look at one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. population: multiracial Americans.

Artist Brett Cooke-Dizney's work is a reflection of his life. And his life has been as colorful as any picture he has ever painted, reports CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts.

Cooke-Dizney's father is black and his mother is German. What does that make him?

"That makes me multi-racial," he says.

As a boy, he remembers being called "the n-word, Oreo, zebra, any number of things."

According to the U.S. Census, multiracial Americans are one of the fastest growing populations in the country, now numbering some 7 million people. And in a hundred years, this minority could well become America's majority.

It's a trend that started in the '60s, when interracial marriage was still illegal in some places, inappropriate in others.

"When my parents first met, my grandmother didn't talk to my mother for six months," Cooke-Dizney says, "because she was going to marry a black man."

But in the past 40 years, the number of interracial marriages in America has tripled.

Betty Wong, a senior editor at Parent's magazine, and Camilo Ortiz, a psychology professor, were married despite initial reservations by her family.

"My parents came from China in 1969 and everyone they knew was Chinese," says Wong. "And they just thought that it would be natural that I would marry someone of our background."

Recently this Chinese-American and Colombian-American couple had their first child, Juliet, now six months old.

"When I look at her, I just see my beautiful baby," says Ortiz.

"Our challenge is to teach Juliet to be proud of the fact that when she looks in the mirror, she'll see her heritage - not something to be afraid of or ashamed of," says Wong.

Orti says her wants his daughter "to speak Chinese and Spanish in addition to English. So therefore Betty's family is only allowed to speak to her in Chinese and my family's only allowed to speak to her in Spanish."

It's this blending of cultures, the slow acceptance of change that is reshaping and re-shading the face of America.

Is the goal that a hundred years from now all of America will look like Tiger Woods? Multiracial?

Cooke-Dizney says, "I think the goal is to accept the complexity that all people are, where people have the freedom and are encouraged to be, their unique self."

And in that world, artist Brett Cooke-Dizney believes race will still matter. But America, the great melting, pot will look more like a painting.