Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Denied interracial marriage reinforces racism’s prevalence

Credit: Douglas
Credit: Douglas

Earlier this month, Beth Humphrey (who happens to be white) and her boyfriend, Terence McKay (who happens to be black), went to a Louisiana justice of the peace seeking a marriage license.

The judge’s answer? He does not perform inter-racial marriages.

The story made headlines worldwide. According to London’s Guardian, justice of the peace Keith Bardwell, who is white, claimed that “he is not a racist.” Rather, Bardwell said, he does not “do interracial marriages because [he doesn’t] want to put children in a situation they didn’t bring on themselves. I feel the children will later suffer.”

Of course, Bardwell is wrong: he is: or at least his actions have been: undeniably racist. Denying a marriage license on the basis of race reeks of unforgivable bigotry and prejudice.

The controversy pricks sensitive nerves in the South, where the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws against interracial marriage (then called miscegenation) in 1967, barely forty years ago.

Moreover, it reinforces stereotypes of the southern United States, and allows those of us who don’t live in Louisiana (or Alabama, or Mississippi, or Georgia) to mount our moral high horses and proclaim our righteousness. That could never happen here, we might say, not in Walla Walla or Seattle or Portland or New York City or Los Angeles. We’re too educated, too liberal, too modern for such blatant prejudice.

But by saying that, we isolate racism as a regional problem, virulent only in former bastions of segregation and Jim Crow laws. The reality is that racism lurks beneath the surface throughout the United States.

The United States passed a major milestone in race relations with Barack Obama’s election. But his inauguration did not strike down racism with one swift blow.

Rather, President Obama has served as a lightning rod for America’s hidden racism.

Nationally syndicated radio host Glenn Beck has accused Obama of harboring “deep-seated hatred of white people,” despite the fact that Obama’s mother is white. When a white police officer arrested Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. at his own residence in Massachusetts, Obama found himself in the middle of a national controversy. Countless easily-duped conspiracy theorists nationwide ignited a furor over Obama’s birth certificate, claiming that the president was not born in Honolulu but rather Kenya. The “birther” movement’s claim Obama could not really be an American smacks of poorly hidden racism.

Most Americans think of racism simplistically, focusing only on injustices to blacks. In the process, we ignore very real discrimination faced by Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans and American Indians.

Sadly, the United States: the whole United States: has many obstacles to surmount before it becomes a colorblind nation. By pretending that racism is unique to the “Deep South,” we hide those obstacles, and make them more difficult to overcome.

We must face the facts: racism is still very much alive in the United States.

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  • R

    RunninbearOct 29, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Its not that we think Obama isn’t American we believe that his refuesal to provide his papers to his employers.aka the American people.We want to know why the frist thing he decided to do when taking office was to seal “ALL his records?Instead of dealing with the war,the economy,or abortion,or the fact that he knew that Iran had a secret plant to enrich
    plutonium 3 times faster than before,but still told us he wanted to meet without precondidtions?Or his “Dual citizenship of Indonesia”or his Indonesian passport that he use to travel to Pakistan,Who did he stay with?where and who did he meet while visiting??.
    McCain gave 1500 pages of medical history,Obama wrte 6 paragraphs?Mccain passed musterand proved he an American born and Obama never answered one vetting questionaire?or produced a altered C.O.L.B.
    If he isnt creating this schism with American voters then Acorn is as to Obama as Abortion Bombers is to Bill Ayers!Crimmals?
    These are questions the American people want to know?Ok Now you can call me a “BIRTHER” being native American Ive been called worse?

  • R

    RunninbearOct 29, 2009 at 11:38 am

    I am a Native American and a democrat,Where did some one so young and nave ever experence racism to write about it.I have grown up with racism all my life,being a Native American.I have experenced racism in a state where the very name means “Home Of The Redman” Yet just because I want to excise my Contitutional rights and demand that someone who is half black wanting the job as potus refuses to show us his papers.
    There is alot of racist people out there and you may be surprised that a lot are black,White,yellow and yes even Red,but Im not been schooled by racists like Uncle Frank,Jeremiah Wright? Al-Mansour,Mentor for the “Black Panthers”,or Percy Sutton main mouth picece for the Black Panthers” who Eric Holder released 2 Black panthers for imtimadating voters at a polling site,with baton swinging,with out so much as a slap on the wrist? maybe if you listen to their thoughts on America,you might find out where racism is hiding?In Plain SITE? Yeah I know you think I’M a Racist too?Then aren’t you TOO!Anyone that doesn’t say he loves his race is lying?but that doesn’t make me a jermiah Wright or some one who he Mentored for 20 plus years,and lied and said “He NEVER HEARD SUCH WORDS” They was selling his tapes in the lobby of the church he attended.The Chickens came home to roost sound familar,check out your Obama before you call me a Racist?He threw his own grandmother under the bus with Wright and he will the American people. OMG! O=Obama M= Must G=GO