So G-L-M-A-R-I-S:

October 22, 2009

by Amaris Bailey

Last time I checked, we were living in the 21st century.

Last I looked, anti-miscegenation laws were overturned back in 1967 with the landmark civil rights case – Loving v. Virginia – that succeeded in revealing the unconstitutionality of banning mixed race unions.

Last I checked the Civil War was over, and (most) everyone had accepted that the South lost, the Confederate flag was burned and slavery and segregation were never the way to go – that they deserved to be abolished and replaced by equality and acceptance.

Unfortunately, some hangers-on to the old ways remain. A justice of the peace in New Orleans recently refused to marry a young couple. The couple is involved in an interracial relationship. Keith Bardwell, the justice of the peace, is white.

Bardwell’s no bigot, though. According to the Associated Press, he claims that he allows loads of black friends in his house and he has no problem marrying a black couple; he just doesn’t believe in mixing races.

But don’t worry. He says he’s not a racist.
Now before you accuse me of bullying the South, let me just say I realize this problem is not confined to the Southern states. But statistics show a larger occurrence of interracial relationships in almost every other geographical region in the United States – which leads me to believe there is a higher tolerance, even if only a marginal one, elsewhere.

Regardless of location, I find it difficult to express my lividity upon reading this story. My outrage flows not only from an internal perception of injustice, but from having had to face similar struggles. As an African-American female who has dated a Caucasian male, I know all too well the spirit of segregation is not dead in the South.

I would love to believe otherwise – and did, for a while. Eventually, though, the whispers grew louder; the veiled looks became much more blatant; the hushed internal thoughts of others became an external cacophony of judgments.

Didn’t I know how many strong, available black men I had to choose from? Didn’t I know how I was making my race look? Didn’t those intolerant questioners know how very much I didn’t care? How very much it didn’t matter?

Apparently, though, it matters enough for Keith Bardwell to deny a presumably loving couple the sanctity of marriage – at least by the powers vested in him, as he has resigned himself to the fact that the couple could be married under a different justice of the peace.

I was under the impression that, as human beings, we could treat each other with a little respect – or simple human decency – regardless of our differences. I thought we had evolved from the primitiveness of what we once were. It seems I need to check my facts again.

Amaris Bailey is a senior journalism major from Monroe who serves as associate managing editor for The Tech Talk. E-mail comments to amb057@latech.edu.