October 18, 2009

Guess Who's Hosting the State Dinner

I am the proud new grandparent of a baby girl — let me name her Anamika — born to my daughter a few weeks ago, and needless to say, I am in cloud 9. She is absolutely beautiful, and from the way she demands to be fed and protests her car seat restraint, it's quite clear to me that she's not going to put up with anyone messing with her right to life and liberty!

Anamika's right to pursuit of happiness, however, is a different matter. That's according to Keith Bardwell, who is the Justice of Peace for the 8th Ward of Tangipahoa Parish in Louisiana. Mr. Bardwell, I believe, doesn't think children of Anamika's kind have much of a future in the United States of America. Why? Because, the type and distribution of melanin in the epidermis of her mother and father don't quite match. According to news reports:

Bardwell told the paper [the Hammond Star] that he believes interracial marriages do not last and that the children of such unions are not accepted by either the black or white community.

I could ungoogle little evidence [this blog post points to rather weak support] for Bardwell's beliefs and assertions about melanin-mismatched families, but are they reasonable? What do epidermic melanin, and the genes that are involved in its production and distribution, have to do with how a woman and a man manage their marital relations, if anything at all? Perhaps, the communities in Mr. Bardwell's neighborhood are unaccepting of the children born of melanin-mismatched couples, but has he ever stepped into the brave new world of Facebook communities?

Sure, all kinds of bigots are still out there in the loony land, but the infamous pronouncement of Leon Bazile, the trial judge in the State of Virginia's case against Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving, who, it seems, had shared Mr. Bardwell's views, could only belong to the ash heap of history:

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

Why do I see the ugly faces of gods whenever I dig deeper into every incidence of bigotry, discrimination, and misogyny?

Mr. Bardwell added to the Hammond Star:

"I don't do interracial marriages because I don't want to put children in a situation they didn't bring on themselves," Bardwell told the paper. "In my heart, I feel the children will later suffer."

I am touched, touched, Mr. Bardwell, by your concern for the Anamikas of the world, but there is no need to torture your tiny little mind about their future. I assure you that my little princess and her cohorts are in safe hands. In case you have been vacationing in the exoplanet Gliesi 581 d for the last couple of years, I have great news for you. Guess who is hosting the state dinners at the White House these days!

The title of this post was inpired by Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, a twentieth century film on melanin-mismatched love and marriage that could not possibly have opened the eyes of the likes of Mr. Bardwell, who belong to the Dark Ages.
  1. "All men are created equal", wrote Thomas Jefferson in the famous 'Declaration of Independence' in the year 1776! However, neither Jefferson nor his successors quite believed that all men are born equal in talent or virtue. 'Equality' then meant that all persons shall be treated alike by the State in respect of matters of discipline. And the State shall not deny equal protection of the laws. Additionally, the ideal, 'equality of opportunity', allowing freedom to the individual to develop his talents to the limits of his ability, was also emphasized but not recognized in so many words under the Constitution of the U.S.A. Only the Fourteenth Amendment approached such a statement of principle in its 'equal protection' clause. In theory there was no opposition to the concept of 'equality' under the laws. In practice, however, the 'race relationship' problem showed up the hypocrisy of the dominant white race.

    Even after 'school desegregation' rulings, the 'separate but equal' doctrine persisted in areas other than public education, such as, housing,transportation, recreation, etc. The Supreme Court continued to invalidate many state and local regulations ordering such invidious segregation.Those rulings were followed by state laws forbidding segregation and discrimination. These statutes, however, vary greatly in coverage and vigor of enforcement.

    From the 1960s there has been an onward march towards achieving greater 'equality', but the 'alienation' that Negroes (now called, Afro-Americans or Black Americans) feel is not confined to the prevalent laws. Many Negroes listen to the idealistic principles of American society and see the actual rewards that society offers -- to others and not them. They often shout 'black power' or riot, but the same frighten the whites more into opposing the cause of civil rights because of fear of misconduct. Unequal education has over the years resulted in unequal jobs, unequal pay, unequal housing, etc. Poverty and crime are closely inter-related. If the opportunities for education and employment as are available are taken advantage of and the Negroes do move achieve white middle class standards, they are considered as being 'uppity' as one writer remarked. In other words, the predominant white society still puts them down. The one who came up lately as the 'President of the United States of America' is no exception to this rule. He may hosting the 'State Dinner' at the White House in Washington D.C., but he has miles to go before he is accepted as the 'First Citizen' in an American community which has overcome differences of race as well as national origin, religion and social class!

    I wish that your grand-daughter, Anamika, will grow up to see such an American community which shakes off the discrimination based on race, color, religion, region, gender and so forth -- the ordinary failings of mankind -- and live in an Utopia that is the U.S.A. of your dreams.

    [Editor: Unauthorized personal information edited out]

  2. Anonymous,

    A few observations:

    1. Jefferson was rather circumspect in his assessment of the natural talent and virtue of the Negroid race, whatever it means. Based on the characteristics of the people around him, he did believe that, "Comparing them [blacks] by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigation of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous." ... In the end Jefferson considered his finding to be only a working hypothesis, "that they are inferior in the faculties of reason and imagination, must be hazarded with great diffidence." More scientific scrutiny was needed ... [From David L. Faigman. Laboratory of Justice, 2004]

    2. Obama won 41% of the white male and 56% of the white female votes. The percent of white male voters for Obama was less than that of McCain, but it was more than the percent won by Carter. The skewness is more likely attributable to party affiliation, than race. White voters tend to vote Republican and blacks, Democratic. In any case, we have come a long way from the Civil War, Scott v. Sanford, Plessey v. Ferguson, and even Brown v. Board of Education.

    3. It never ceases to amaze me, how many ways humanity chooses to divide itself into, and then discriminate - gender, religion, caste, language, ethnicity ... No society can claim to be "holier than thou" in this respect. And, I am quite aware that social discrimination is quite likely persist for a long time to come. Tribalism is tough to overcome. We can only hope that equal protection under law will keep such discrimination to a minimum.

    4. As someone who has lived both in the USA and India for almost equal number of years, I can state unequivocally that I feel more welcome, and my talents more valued, here than in the country of my birth. And, as the years have rolled by, things have gotten only better, not worse. Hence my optimism for the future of Anamikas of this world.

  3. Congratulations on becoming a grandpa.

    Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.
    Is this guy for real???
    I am still laughing!

  4. I wish I would become a grandpa soon. My future grandchild will not only melanin mismatched, but will also be religion mis-matched. I also hope that he/she will grow up to be like his/her father, who was born with both mis-matches as well. We the mutts, the mixed people of the world are its future! :-)

  5. Usha,
    Leon Bazile was so god-deluded that he failed to recognize that he had condemned himself to hell. For, he or his ancestors must have sinned by migrating from his god-assigned "white continent" to the "red continent"!

    Tathastu :)

  6. why go to the actual melanin mismatched couple and their off spring. I was born to fairskinned parents by Indian standards, yet I have a generous overdose of malanin in my epidermis.And though not my parents every one who saw me in my mother's arms invariably asked how this tragedy could have happened.i grew up listening to people wonder aloud about who would marry me. They may haved concluded that my mantal abilities were infriour but like your Anamika i had a mind of my own and ignored their meaningless babble. These were at least not so educated women of the 1950s. the example you give is unbelievable.

    Be that as it may congratulations on becoming a grandpa!


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