Blackface is Bad, Isn’t blocking Interracial Marriage Worse?

Racial stereotyping is bad enough, but here in the Good Old USA we’ve got something even worse. We’ve got a man named Keith Bardwell.

He’s a justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana who apparently thinks it’s still 1953. Bardwell refuses to marry interracial couples.

No, you’re not reading this wrong. Bardwell says he’s turned away four such couples during his two and a half years as a justice of the peace in this parish. Let’s hope he doesn’t make it to three.

He reasons that the children of interracial couples face rejection by both blacks and whites, and he won’t allow these future kids to suffer by marrying parents of different races. One wonders if anyone has told him the current governor of his state is an Indian American. Which brings to mind, how would he deal with a marriage between a Chinese woman and a black man? Or a black woman and an Indian man (or does it depend strictly on skin color)?

Keith Bardwell obvious is living in a different time. He reasons he doesn’t discriminate because he turns away all interracial couples. How utterly logical! And on its face, illegal. Last I checked, a justice of the peace was a public office, and the responsibilities of that office weren’t subject to racist whim. Neither do Terence McKay and Beth Humphrey, the latest couple to be turned away by Bardwell. They’ve taken their concerns to the US Justice Dept., who hopefully will urge Gov. Bobby Jindal to do the right thing and snatch this man’s gig away post haste.

And what is Keith Bardwell’s rationale for such backward thinking? “I didn’t tell this couple they couldn’t get married. I just told them I wouldn’t do it.” So why bother being a justice of the peace at all? If, as he says, he’s also worried that interracial marriages don’t last long (there’s no evidence they last any longer or shorter than the typical marriage), why not be proactive and lecture everyone you marry about staying together? Or is that too much like work?

Terence McKay, denied a marraige license to marry white woman in Lousiana
Terence McKay, denied a marraige license to marry white woman in Lousiana

No, Keith Bardwell’s concerns aren’t for the interracial couples he turns away, or their possible children. He’s all about upholding a racist law that disappeared decades ago, and has no place in 21st century America. I’m sure that he’s got his supporters in Tangipahoa Parish, people who will tell you (and reporters) what a wonderful guy he is. Maybe one of them will tell him that the child of an interracial marriage is now President of the United States.

What do you think. Is Keith Bardwell is aberration, or is his type of thinking more widespread than we believe?

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