•  HOME 
  •  BOOKS 
  •  WWP 
  •  DONATE 
  • Loading

Follow workers.org on
Twitter Facebook iGoogle


Stand up against racism

Published Oct 21, 2009 3:43 PM

The racism of Keith Bardwell, Louisiana justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, sent shock waves and cries of condemnation throughout the United States and around the world. On Oct. 6 Bardwell refused to issue a marriage license to Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay because she is white and he is Black.  It’s Bardwell’s policy not to marry interracial couples because he alleges the children born of such unions will “suffer.” Bardwell is no doubt outraged that President Barack Obama had an African father and a white mother.

This elected judicial official still abides by Civil War-era “miscegenation” laws like the ones implemented in Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa.  Apparently, he disagrees with the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia that struck down that state’s laws banning interracial unions.  The court found unconstitutional all race-based restrictions against marriage throughout the country.

The high court’s 1967 landmark ruling did not occur in a vacuum. It happened at the height of the civil rights and Black Liberation struggles that involved millions throughout the U.S.  Other struggles for national liberation, both internationally and inside the U.S., were also taking place, with Indigenous and Latino/a peoples demanding an end to centuries of racism, oppression and inequality.

Humphrey and McKay plan to file a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department concerning Bardwell.  The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana sent a letter to the Judicial Administrator of the Louisiana Supreme Court, which oversees state justices of the peace, asking for an investigation of Bardwell, and requesting the imposition of the severest sanctions against him. The national headquarters of the NAACP, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, and several Louisiana politicians have also called for Bardwell’s immediate resignation.  While we join in the demand for Bardwell’s sanctioning and removal from office, these legal efforts are not enough. Bigots like Bardwell brazenly espouse their racist attitudes and misdeeds because institutionalized racism is still a fact of life in the United States, along with women’s oppression and lesbian, gay, bi and trans oppression.  There is still no federal law recognizing same-sex marriages.

In fact, on the 40th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia ruling in 2007, Mildred Loving, who is African-American, issued a public statement that reads in part: “I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry.” Loving passed away in 2008. (Read Loving’s entire statement on www.workers.org)

Bardwell should be forced to apologize publicly and pay restitution to all those he has insulted and harmed over the years by imposing his racist superiority.  He should also be jailed for federal violations of individuals’ civil liberties and civil rights.

White supremacist ideology is an integral tool the ruling class uses to divide workers so they cannot effectively fight back against the capitalist class and the many miseries it visits upon the working class and the oppressed.

Lowered wages and high unemployment, record foreclosures, evictions and homelessness, health care out of reach for tens of millions—these realities demand a unified response from all workers of all nationalities.

The outrage sparked by Bardwell’s actions shows how crucial is the pursuit of the struggle against racism every day.  As the movement grows for jobs and economic justice and against the capitalist profit system, fighting racism in all forms must be at the top of the agenda.