Thursday, April 03, 2008

Judge Marvin Arrington & His "Bill Cosby Moment"

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Fulton Superior Court Judge Marvin Arrington routinely uses his sentencing day - on Thursdays - as a time to speak his mind to offenders who come before him for sentencing. On last Thursday, he went one step further: he had about 50 defendants (all of whom were Black) and he asked all of the white people in the room to leave before he addressed them.

Arrington said that for him it was just a "Bill Cosby moment" in which he delivered a harsh indictment that bad behavior in poorer black neighborhoods was an albatross on black advancement. Unlike Cosby, who has received some criticism among blacks for delivering such messages, Arrington received a standing ovation from the defendants and their families after his 10-minute talk.

Judge Arrington is quoted as saying, "I wanted to have a fireside chat and my grandmother said years ago that if you're going to fuss at black people, you don't need to do it in front of white people." He continued, "I didn't know it was going to be so controversial[.] I probably made a bad judgment call and I probably won't do it again. It was not ill-intended. My heart was in the right place."

The judge has received some flak for asking the white attorneys to leave the courtroom.

Read the entire AJC article here.

plez sez: i know judge marvin arrington... he grew up in the same neighborhood and attends the same church as my wife's family in atlanta. i've met him at a few church gatherings and we are members of the same fraternity. i was even a guest speaker - on career day - in his younger sister's classroom at booker t. washington high school a few years ago.

i applaud him for reminding these young Black men that they are not only a strain on society, but they are also a cancer within the Black community. instead of heading to jail, all fifty of those guys should've been in a classroom or at a job! each one of those guys are exactly what's wrong with the Black community.

i do not applaud his methods. what he had to say - no matter how humiliating it may seem - needed to be heard by everyone: white, Black, asian, latino, etc. we can no longer let the worst examples of our community skate into the obscurity of our prison system. everyone needs to know that judge arrington and plezWorld does not condone or tolerate the behavior of our Black men that continues to keep our community down. i only hope that more of our Black leaders have "Bill Cosby moments" and tell the world what we think about those who continue to destroy our community.

do you feel that judge arrington was right or wrong to ask the white attorneys to leave?


David Sullivan said...

What he said needs to be heard by everyone, but he wasn't so much concerned about everyone than the message getting across specifically to those people at that moment. Sometimes people are only going to listen to someone who is from where the are from.

GinetteCreations said...

He could just as well have said it with everyone in the room.
His intentions may have been good but he only reinforces rasism and the idea that segregation is somehow justified.

It will not bring people together when we make a point of excluding based on skin color regardless of the reasons or good intentions.

If we leave race out of this for a minute and say for instance:

Any judge would have asked all women to leave the courtroom, so he can have a word with the men.

That would remind me of these old movies you see from 1800 something where women weren't allowed to vote, or participate in certain events. We've come farther then that and it's the same here.

It's a matter of principle.

The Stepfather of Soul said...

I think that he could've made those statements either with or without white people present, but I do think he certainly had his heart in the right place to ask the white people to leave. But, of course, as Cosby mentioned, he was appalled at how many people were upset that he had "aired [black people's] dirty laundry"; he was shocked that people were more upset about the "dirty laundry" than the conditions that he was trying to address.

Lola Gets said...

Well as a woman who believes in "situational separation" depending on circumstance (single sex education, seperate areas in mosques, etc) I believe that sometimes like needs to speak to like the best way like do so, and that means everyone else out. Call me old fashioned and crochety, but there are some things I wouldnt want to say to my errant Black brothers and sisters in front of other ethnicities. So I can defenitely see where the Judge was coming from.

But...I can also see what the all the hubub is all about. Everyone wants to be PC and kumbyah about everything (race, gender, nationality, etc.) but sometimes, its not completely beneficial or serve the best purposes of its intended listeners.

My uncle is a judge and he lectures his deliquents too, but he doesnt clear the room to do so. Perhaps next time the judge will yell at folks of all ethnicities??


Mary said...

Let's not worry about HOW Judge Arrington gave his lecture and who was present... As long as those who needed to hear it were there, that is all that is important. He felt that his message would be more effective without whites in the room and it was. I'm white and I understand. I want things to get better in the black community for the young people. It breaks my heart to see them sabotaging all the good they could have in their lives. We all need to stand together and do what is needed to make things better for ALL of society regardless of color. We need to do whatever works and Judge Arrington and Bill Cosby are trying to do that.