Friday, October 16, 2009

Biracial Children Concerns Reason Enough to Decline a Marriage License?

The Associated Press reported today that Keith Bardwell, a Louisiana Justice of the Peace, has refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple. Bardwell defended his actions by saying, "I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way. I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them like everyone else." The couple in question is Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay. The denial their marriage license is the fourth time Bardwell has declined for interracial couples. Bardwell told Hammond Star that, "I don't do interracial marriages because I don't want to put children in a situation they didn't bring on themselves. I feel the children will later suffer."

In 1967 the U.S. Supreme court heard Loving v. Virginia where it was ruled that Virginia's miscegenation laws and all race-based restrictions against marriage unconstitutional. Not sure where Bardwell finds power within his role as a Justice of the Peace to usurp the ruling of the U.S. Supreme court. Putting the ruling aside and the fact we are in the 21st Century, does Bardwell have a valid concern in regards to the difficulties of biracial children may have as they grow up. While I do not care who one chooses to marry – white, black, brown, red, straight, or gay – it intrigues me the concern Bardwell has for the children angle. So, I went to the truth machine to see what others say about biracial children.

I came across an interesting piece called "Parenting Biracial Children: Issues for Black/White Biracial Child-Rearing" by Frank A. Jones. Mr. Jones starts with "Raising a biracial son who is Black and White can be difficult for some parents and the child; it can be even more difficult for a single White female raising a Black son alone." The article discussed the fear a child had in one of the treatment centers for delinquent males that Jones administered. The child was to be moved from a predominantly white facility to one that is predominantly black. The child's concern was "I won't fit in." The child was a biracial youth. Jones points to "The problem today is that White parents are raising their Black offspring using White paradigms of parenting, which are often antithetical to Black manhood, and when embedded in Black children, that paradigm, with all its assumptions of White Privilege usually not experienced by people of non-white hue, may cause them to behave as the young biracial ward of my center behaved when told that he would be moved to Oakland: he saw himself as different and the other Black males (without biracial parenting or lineage) as dangerous and threatening. When this notion is put into a children, it alienates them from the Black part of their heritage and harms their socialization."

Jones ends with "Biracial children must be raised with special care because of the nature of this duplicitous society." Our president is biracial as well who was raised by his grandmother who was white. I wonder if Jones is using the historic result of the 2008 Presidential election as motivation for those biracial children he administers. Does Bardwell have a valid concern? If so, can that concern for the child be reason for him refuse a marriage license? Set aside the interracial couple while ponder these questions; rather focus on the potential biracial children the couple may produce.