As long as there are racist judges in the courtroom, Black people who find themselves in a position where they are facing down the U.S. justice system can never be truly assured their cases will be handled fairly and objectively. That’s why whenever judges are proven to have contempt for Black people, in or outside of their courtrooms, we immediately call for them to be removed lest an alleged offender of the melanin-rich variety ends up with their lives in a negro-hating court officer’s Klan-ish hands.
A Louisiana judge recently became the subject of a viral video in which she and members of her family can be heard repeatedly using the N-word following an attempted burglary of her home. No faces can be seen in the video, but the judge confirmed it was taken from inside her home. The man suspected of breaking into her property with the intent of robbing her happens to be a Black man, which is likely why the family members who were captured on camera let racial slurs fly through the air like some kind of white supremacist COVID variant. (O-merica?)
According to The Advocate, Lafayette City Court Judge Michelle Odinet is asking for “understanding, forgiveness, patience, and prayers” for her and her son amid mounting calls for her resignation prompted by the video that appears to show her and her family watching security footage of the break-in, which 59-year-old Robert Handy is accused of committing.
“And mom’s yelling n****r, n****r,” a voice that presumably belongs to Odinet’s son can be heard attributing to his judge mother before a woman’s voice, presumably belonging to Odinet herself, chimed in saying, “We have a n****r, It’s a n****r, like a roach.”
Now, while Odinet has confirmed to The Current that the slur-laced video was taken from inside her home, she hasn’t explicitly admitted that she took part in slinging the N-word around like it was a hot potato—but she sure is apologizing and making excuses like a racist who just got caught on her “I heart negro hate” steez.
“My children and I were the victims of an armed burglary at our home,” Odinet said in a statement to The Current. “The police were called and the assailant was arrested. The incident shook me to my core and my mental state was fragile. I was a wreck and am still unable to sleep. I was given a sedative at the time of the video. I have zero recollection of the video and the disturbing language used during it. Anyone who knows me and my husband knows this is contrary to the way we live our lives. I am deeply sorry and ask for your forgiveness and understanding as my family and I deal with the emotional aftermath of this armed burglary.”
Literally, all that’s missing from Odinet’s generic non-apology are the statements, “I have a Black friend” and “I don’t have a racist bone in my body.”
News flash to white people everywhere: Not sedatives, sleeplessness or fragile mental states cause non-racist white people to suddenly start using racial slurs. But let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that she didn’t use any of the “disturbing language” heard in the video—we’re supposed to believe her claim that clear and blatant racism is “contrary to the way we live our lives” when her family members are using said language so freely and with zero concern that it might be frowned upon?
Anyway, suffice it to say, Black people in Lafayette are calling for Odinet to step down.
“She is a sitting judge in a sitting court. She represents the community of Lafayette. We can’t condone that type of behavior from her or anyone else for that matter,” NAACP President Michael Toussaint said Monday, the Advocate reported.
Lafayette City Marshall Reggie Thomas also said Tuesday, “As a proud Black man, and the Lafayette City Marshal, I strongly believe Judge Odinet should be held accountable.”
“I’m sure that people of color will find it impossible to trust that they will be treated fairly and equally when they have to stand for judgment before Judge Odinet,” he continued. “This type of language cannot be accepted or tolerated by anyone, especially those who serve as leaders in our city. It is up to Judge Odinet to remember the oath she took, and should she remain on the bench, find a way to gain back the trust of ‘all’ of Lafayette, especially African Americans. A mere ineffectual and weak apology will not suffice.”
Unfortunately, Odinet can’t be forced off the bench and would have to voluntarily resign to be removed because, as the Daily Advertiser reported, “Judges are unique in Louisiana in that they are the only elected officials who are protected from recall petitions.”
I wouldn’t hold my breath in hoping a racist in denial will do the right thing.