Thursday, September 20, 2007

Time Warp

The park area is segregated. But the black kids ask if they can sit where they want to. They are told they may. They do. The next day, nooses appear hanging from the tree under which they'd sat. Tensions escalate. A white man beats a young black man. Young black men try to confront the perpetrators of the hate crime. A shotgun is pulled on them. A fight breaks out after more taunting from the white boys. Six black boys are arrested and charged with attempted murder. No white boys are arrested. An all white jury takes the advice of a white supremacist d.a. and convict the first boy, a 16-year old, for attempted murder. The weapon? A shoe.

1930? 1955? 1965?

Nope.

2007.

Jena, Louisiana.

Today.

Today in Jena, that boy will be sentenced and could face up to 80 years in prison for a fight on school grounds that was prompted by a series of hate crimes committed against the young black population of that town. What is going on? How is this possible in 2007?

Oh, it's possible. In fact, the amount of racism, segregation and ongoing white supremacy institutionalized in local governments throughout the South in this country would probably boggle the minds of most Americans. Especially most white Americans.

Yesterday and today there are rallies taking place in Jena to show support for justice. Equality. Fair treatment under the law. Not too much to ask for. But the rallies are all being led by leaders of the African American community and attended by African Americans. Here is the problem. Why aren't white Americans down there showing as much strength of purpose? Will institutionalized racism in this country EVER be demolished as long as we sit back and assume that the call to action should only be answered by those who continue to be oppressed? It can't work this way. There has to be a new call for white people in this country to join in for the final push towards the elimination of bigotry and racism in every level of our justice system.

Think about it this way. If a judge had found the same findings he found about Brittany Spears (drug use, staying out at all hours, endangering her children), but she had been a single black woman in L.A., would she still have custody of those kids?

We're not there yet. But we need to get there fast. Get on board. Every white teacher in this country should be telling the story of the Jena Six today to their students and taking a stand for justice. It's something your students will remember. And it's something that would make a difference.

16 comments:

DrPezz said...

It eerily sounds like the Scottsboro Boys case which inspired To Kill A Mockingbird.

ms. whatsit said...

It is a surreal scenario. With all the federal government talk about Iraqi freedom, what this country really seems to need is a healthy dose of home-front consciencization.

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allie said...

Hi! I'm in a writing class at The George Washington University, and one of our assignments is to find a female blogger and look at her posts over the course of the semester. Just wanted to let you know that I found your blog (lucky, you!) and will be periodically reading your posts! I've checked out a couple of them already and look forward to hearing (or reading) more of what you have to say.

Thanks,
Allie

P.S.- And in response to Jena, it's not only appalling, it's sickening. I thought the Jim Crow era had passed. Obviously, we still have a very long way to go.

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