Are Louisianans racist?

by Brandon Richards

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It's made national and international headlines. The story about a Tangipahoa justice of the peace's refusal to marry an interracial couple has set off a firestorm of opinions.

But has this story uncovered a much larger issue of racism in Louisiana?

Some people seem to think so.

Shocked about a KPLC web poll that shows almost half of respondents think Keith Bardwell should NOT resign, one KPLC viewer says the poll results and the justice of the peace ordeal reveal some Southwest Louisianans' "overt racism and prejudice."

Michael Tremont says the KPLC Blog represents the pulse of the greater Lake Charles area. He says comments on the blog, as well as poll results of our web poll, will only makes things worse for Louisiana in the eyes of the nation.

Others think Justice Bardwell is being unfairly attacked for his personal beliefs.

One KPLC viewer who calls herself Dot says she's not racist, but feels like sometimes people her skin color are drowned out when it comes to expressing their beliefs.

McNeese diversity specialist Dr. Rosemary Gray says the KPLC Blog is part of a larger discussion that has to take place. Gray says as society becomes more diverse, controversies are going to happen.

But Gray says race relations can only improve when more people leave their comfort zones and try to understand the viewpoints of others.

The controversy is likely to stay in the headlines since the interracial couple Bardwell refused to marry has filed a lawsuit to try and have Bardwell removed from office.

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