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Commentary: Jaded Va. Judge Put his Racism in Writing


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Being a young, black, potentially successful 16-year-old male, the first article is nonsensicle and absurd. The second is just a shame. I found both to be interesting and thought to share them with my fellow extremeskins members.


Commentary: Jaded Va. Judge Put his Racism in Writing

Date: Tuesday, March 09, 2004

By: David Person


Virginia General District Judge Ralph B. Robertson is the new poster boy for bigotry. But it's not necessarily because of what he did while sitting on the bench. It's more for what he did off the bench.

According to a report in the Richmond Free Press, the jaded judge went into an Internet chat room and wrote: "African-Americans are prone to crime and violence because it is in their genes." To justify his bigotry, Robertson gave this explanation: "I am not a racist. I am a racialist. The difference being I don't discriminate against an individual, but I do recognize the fact that there are a lot of differences between races which I assume from a biological standpoint is caused by difference in DNA.

"If DNA controls everything else, why shouldn't it cause a difference in ability to learn or play sports or a proclivity for violence?"

Excuse me? Black folks are genetically prone to violence, but whites who enslaved blacks, exterminated American Indians, and routinely lynched black people -- including women and children -- and were so callous that they would picnic and take pictures aren't genetically prone to be violent?

What an idiot.

In case there was any doubt about the depth of his racism and the shallowness of his intellect, Robertson decided to top off his bigotry with old-fashioned name-calling. He also wrote that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a plagiarist, that the Rev. Jesse Jackson was "a thief, a liar and a traitor to his own people" and that the Civil Rights Movement is a "scam."

Right -- Dr. King's entire legacy of sacrifice and commitment, along with a Nobel Peace Prize and other honors, means nothing and should be reduced to allegations of plagiarism.

Sure -- the Rev. Jackson, a man who has consistently encouraged black people to better themselves and been a voice for voiceless people of all races, is nothing more than a Judas.

And of course -- slavery, segregation, lynching, redlining, job and housing discrimination and all other forms of racism addressed by the Civil Rights Movement are simply a figment of our imagination. The past 400 years never happened.

We made it all up.

It doesn't surprise me that some fool believes this stuff. But it does concern me that this fool has been a judge for 19 years.

For whatever it's worth, Robertson has apologized to the black community in Richmond. But an apology, even if truly heartfelt, can't undo the damage this man may have done while entrusted with the responsibility of upholding the law.

How many times has his bigotry meant unequal justice for some brother or sister? How many times has his belief that the Civil Rights Movement is a scam led him to rule against something designed to give blacks a level playing field in Virginia?

In a perfect world, we could say never. But we don't live in a perfect world -- or a perfect nation -- so we may never know.

If I lived in Virginia, I wouldn't be satisfied with a mere apology from this racist. I'd be calling for Virginia's Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission to review any case he ever heard. I'd want to be sure that Robertson's bigotry never influenced his rulings.

According to Virginia law, anyone can file a complaint against a judge, alleging a mental disability or misconduct. From where I sit, Robertson definitely has a mental disability. And I'm willing to bet that it led to some judicial misconduct.

Fortunately, Robertson has resigned his judgeship and is no longer hearing cases. As of April 1, he'll be toast. Still, it's frightening to think that a man who had nearly unlimited power to affect peoples lives -- to bring the full weight of the law down on them -- is also a vile, ignorant, hateful bigot.

We should view the exposure of Robertson's bigotry as a warning and start paying closer attention to judges who are elected or appointed. It's not likely that Robertson is the only judge in Virginia, or anywhere else, to hold blatantly racist views.

He's just one of the few dumb enough to put his racism in writing.


Commentary: ‘Get over it’ Bigots: Let Racism Rest in Peace

Date: Tuesday, May 11, 2004

By: David Person

James Byrd Jr., God rest his soul, will have been dead for six years on June 7.

He is the black man in Jasper, Texas, who was beaten, chained to the back of a truck and dragged until his body crumbled into pieces and his head came off. The three white men who lynched him — Lawrence Russell Brewer, John William King and Shawn Allen Berry — were tried and convicted for Byrd's murder.

Brewer and King were sentenced to die. Berry, who claimed to be only the frightened driver of the truck, was sentenced to life in prison.

That should have been the end of the story. Sadly, it isn’t.

Late last week, some visitors to the Jasper City Cemetery where Byrd is buried discovered that his tombstone had been defaced. Actually, defaced is an understatement. A racial epithet was carved into its granite face, and a portion of the tombstone was broken.

“We hoped he could rest in peace,” Stella Byrd told the Associated Press. She is James Byrd’s mother. “They’ve done enough to him already.”

The vandalizing of Byrd’s grave made me think about what bigots in our nation have been doing to racism in general. Just like the cowardly racists who snuck into the cemetery to deface Byrd’s headstone, they don’t know how to let racism rest in peace.

Ironically, this is what they often accuse us black folks and our white sympathizers of doing. They say that the reason race is still an issue in the United States is that we keep talking about it. We continue to live in the past instead of looking forward, they say.

These critics surfaced when Al Brophy, a white professor at the University of Alabama, suggested that the university faculty should apologize for the university’s past connections to slavery. Brophy and his research assistants learned that a former president owned slaves and was a major apologist for slavery. Faculty members owned slaves. Students owned slaves and brought them to the campus with them.

Slaves helped to construct buildings, among other things. And just like on the plantation, they were beaten when perceived to be insolent or uncooperative.

The university faculty agreed with Brophy and apologized. And the critics came out, saying they hadn’t owned slaves and felt no responsibility to right past wrongs.

Get over it, one of them wrote in one publication.

But it’s hard to get over it when certain fraternities at the University of Alabama have members whose idea of fun has been to put on blackface and mock black people at parties. It’s hard to get over it when Alabama’s governor, while appearing at a ceremony commemorating Confederate Memorial Day in April, said that the Civil War was about states rights and not slavery.

The dust of the past, if not renounced, eventually settles on the present, leading to the acts of disrespect and denial I mentioned above.

I’ve been picking on Alabama because I live there, but there are examples in other parts of the country of bigots who just won’t let racism die. A recent study of Massachusetts police departments has found that most racially profile minority drivers. Only 92 out of 366 departments got a passing grade from the study, which was conducted by Northeastern University and commissioned by the Massachusetts Legislature.

The study showed that minorities were ticketed and searched disproportionately to whites. Conversely, whites were issued warnings more often than minorities.

In Massachusetts, just like in Alabama, there are some white folks who just won’t let it go. Slavery is illegal. State-sanctioned segregation has been banned. Interracial marriage, once illegal in many states, can no longer be disallowed.

American society has grown quite a bit in its efforts to enforce equality and fairness. Racism isn’t dead, but it has been dealt a deathblow on more than one occasion. Still, some folks won’t let it go. They won’t let it rest in peace.

Paraphrasing Stella Byrd, haven’t they done enough to us already?


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