If you happen to be a biracial kid stuck growing up in a miscegenation-phobic time-warp like Tangipahoa Parish, La., where Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell apparently refuses to marry interracial couples because he feels “the children will suffer later,” then you, at some point, might have dreamed of floating away in your father’s helium balloon across the plains to a more welcoming part of the country.
The aptly named Falcon Heene—would-be renegade balloon pilot and biracial superstar of the week—almost made it happen…
We don’t know whether or not the nation’s momentary fear that young Falcon was trapped in a homemade balloon craft sailing through the Colorado skies was real or a hoax, but for the record, those of us fortunate enough to grow up in masala-friendly hamlets like D.C.’s Adams Morgan, Brooklyn’s Fort Greene or Oakland’s Rockridge would have welcomed the sight of one of our biracial brethren floating “home” in a silver getaway orb.
Fortunately for Heene, it turned out that he was safe on the ground the whole time. Unfortunately for him, he might be the one biracial kid in America that Bardwell really should worry about.
No Justice, No Peace
Bardwell turned down Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay’s request to get married, saying, “I don’t do interracial marriages because I don’t want to put children in a situation they didn’t bring on themselves.” If by “situation,” he means having your parents drag you out on all the major networks to tell the story of a runaway balloon journey that you didn’t take, then yeah, that’s a concern. If Bardwell means being born and then later in life coming across a justice of the peace whose Internet is so slow that he still hasn’t heard that the Supreme Court settled Loving v. Virginia 42 years ago, then he has a point there, too.
Interracial Wife Swap
Now there’s a show that has “No.1 in its time slot” written all over it.
Last year, parents Mayumi and Richard Heene and their three sons were a hit on Wife Swap. It’s possible they got bit by the fame bug, and after seeing Jon & Kate Plus 8 implode, they figured the world was finally ready for a science/travel “reality” show about a “fringe” scientist, his wife and their three hapa sons.
Too bad they didn’t go for the obvious blockbuster, “Interracial Wife Swap”—the show where a white/Asian couple and a black/Latino couple switch off and sexy, taboo, madcap hi-jinx ensues.
Storm Chasers, Indeed
Reportedly, the Heenes are amateur storm chasers. For a 6-year-old like Falcon, it’s probably more exciting than, say, eating your veggies or doing your homework, but it’s also just a tad insane. A word of advice to all the young mixed kids out there: Being biracial in America is enough of an adventure—storms find you; there’s no need to chase them. Right now you’re trapped in Tangipahoa Parish, but soon enough you’ll find a summer job as a Benetton model.
And Bardwell, going with the some-of-my-best-customers-are-black defense, claims he’s no racist. Maybe he can prove it by doing a live, televised renewal of the Heene’s vows, followed by the Tangipahoa Department of Child Services taking the three Heene boys into protective custody.
The Heene story is a mystery yet to fully unfold, but in a way, Bardwell’s case is an even bigger puzzle. He’s worried about the children of biracial unions. But what, exactly, is he worried about?
That they’ll suffer the sad fate of Tiger Woods, facing the burden of becoming the world’s first billionaire athlete—or worse, the Woods’ children, who’ll one day have to figure out what to do with all that money. Maybe he’s afraid they’ll grow up like Betty Nguyen, forced spend every Saturday morning of her life anchoring CNN’s weekend coverage. Or maybe he’s worried that they’ll grow up like Barack Obama and suffer the confusing fate of having a white American mom, a black Kenyan dad, and a half-Indonesian sister, then having Glenn Beck come to the patently obvious conclusion that Obama’s a “racist.”
We don’t know whether or not the story about young Falcon is genuine—for that matter, we don’t know if this justice of the peace is for real, either—but at a minimum, it’s safe to say that if you’re an interracial couple planning to pull off a balloon publicity stunt with one of your kids, you might want to think about naming him something other than Falcon. Next time, try “Hussein.”
David Swerdlick is a regular contributor to The Root. Follow him on Twitter.
David Swerdlick is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.