I often place emphasis on members of our community utilizing one of the most powerful voices that we as Africans in Americans may use. That voice is your vote. While many people continue to believe that their vote does not count, this thought is so far from true.
Oftentimes, life brings us to many roads where we must go before the presence of a judge. To some, this experience yields a sense of fright or uneasiness. It does not matter if you have a ticket, or you are going through a divorce, facing family issues, looking at criminal charges or have a civil suit, you must go before a judge. For some, this situation presents an unpleasant feeling and to others it reflects a sense of resolution. However it may be, at the end of the day you are responsible for those who pronounces judgment on you.
Addressing our faithful and dedicated readers of African-American News&Issues, we must understand that the same way that our congressmen, senators, governors, mayors and presidents are voted into office the same applies to judges. We elect these people into office.
Here in the City of Houston alone there are several courts that exist within our judicial system. In the Harris County District Court there are: 24 Civil Court Judges, 22 Criminal Court Judges, 3 Juvenile Court Judges, 10 Family Court Judges. In the Harris County Criminal Court at Law there are 15 judges and in Harris County Civil Court at Law there are 4 judges. It is a sad reality that out of 78 courts and judges that exist within the fore-mentioned courts only six judges are Black, that’s less than 1%.
Although some may feel that this element does not affect them it does. If you don’t believe me, just go ahead and get yourself into some trouble and stand before a judge who does not look like, can not identify or relate to the environments of which you come from and see what happens. Granted, judges are meant to demonstrate justice according to the law that has been set before them, but that is just not always the case.
You have judges that are sitting on benches that have the slightest clue as to what the law says. This all goes back to the central thought of this editorial, judges are voted into office. That means the residents and citizens of a region are responsible for who is voted into office.
When we fail to vote, we make room for judges like Judge Lynn Hughes, a 71 year-old District Judge who has been accused on several occasions of making racist and discriminatory comments. His latest incident has a Texas civil rights group upset. Hughes is believed to have made racist comments in regards to educational facilities instructing Human Resource personnel to encourage more racial diversity. Hughes stated, “And what does a diversity director do,” he continued, “go around and paint students different colors so they think they were mixed?” This statement clearly exemplifies some type of prejudicial disposition within Hughes.
With that being stated, I can only hope that his judgments of individuals from various racial groups and ethnicities receive more thought than what he expressed when sharing his perception of educational institutions’ attempt to create a diverse learning environment.
Every judge has his or her own way, anytime you go to court and have to stand before a judge, remember that you are part responsible for him or her occupying that seat. This is either caused through our participation or non-participation. Because at the end of the day, whether you believe it or not, you choose who judges you!