The march on Jena, Louisiana yesterday is being compared by some in the Black community as a “modern day” march on Selma, Alabama in 1965 and Jena is serving as a political sounding board for Jesse Jackson to accuse Barack Obama of “Acting White” for not supporting the “Jena 6.”


Jena is no Selma and Obama was smart to stay out of the smarmy mess.
What we witnessed yesterday in Jena was not a new Civil Rights Movement, but rather a demonstration of The Politics of Boredom the the Glitter of Attention Seeking Sycophants.

Here’s some background information:

The cause of Thursday’s demonstrations dates to August
2006, when a black Jena High School student asked the principal whether
blacks could sit under a shade tree that was a frequent gathering place
for whites. He was told yes. But nooses appeared in the tree the next
day.

Three white students were suspended but not criminally prosecuted.
LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters said this week he could
find no state law covering the act.
The incident was followed by fights between blacks and whites, and in
December a white student, Justin Barker, was knocked unconscious on
school grounds. According to court testimony, his face was swollen and
bloodied, but he was able to attend a school function that night.
Six black teens were arrested. Five were originally charged with
attempted second-degree murder — charges that have since been reduced
for four of them. The sixth was booked as a juvenile on sealed charges.

We can all agree the hanging of the nooses was terrible and awful and in bad taste and the intention was inhuman.
What it illegal?
Were the hanging nooses a form of free speech that deserves public inspection and rejection?

We cannot excuse the Jena 6 taking revenge into their own hands and
beating up a White schoolmate as retribution for the nooses: You don’t
break the law by beating someone up so you can later make your “Civil
Rights cause” something to celebrate.
We’re supposed to feel sorry for — and march to support — the Jena 6
because they beat up somebody and then got in trouble with the law?

I
don’t understand that irrational reasoning.
Charging the Jena 6 with attempted murder may have been excessive —
but aren’t most initial prosecutorial charges trumped up to the nth
degree and made louder than they really are as a matter of standard
practice? We only need to look at OJ in ’07
to see that Las Vegas prosecutorial fact on-the-record.
For the Jena 6 supporters to now claim “Racism” as the judicial system
sorts out what really happened in their beating of an innocent
bystander is not a proper rallying cry to gain mainstream support
across all ages, cultures and social desires.

If, however, your intention is to play to a narrow chorus of dedicated
supporters in the minority, then you only enslave the niche while
losing the world.
Yesterday’s march on Jena was described by some who attended as a party atmosphere:

But unlike the protests that became landmarks for civil
rights when fire hoses and police dogs greeted demonstrators, the rally
to support six black teenagers charged in a school fight had a festive
yet laid-back air.
“It was a great day,” said Denise Broussard, of Lafayette, La. “I
really felt a sense of purpose and commitment, but it was also a lot of
fun. I met great people and made some good friends.”

Don’t let yelling and shouting and fist-pumping replace facts, reason
and memory — and the march on Jena yesterday is just such an example
of empty actions pretending to be ideas of magnitude, meaning and
substance.

16 Comments

  1. I understand your point, the kids committed a crime. But the issue here is parity. The idea of trying these kids as adults and sending them for jail for life is symbolic of racial inequality with our justice system. The white kids hung nooses, here in New York that would be tried as a hate crime. Furthermore, if the situation was reversed, if the white kids would have beaten up one of the black kids, I don’t think they would have been tried as adults let alone charged with attempted murder. People are upset because black people are severely mistreated by the criminal justice system, that is why this is a very important protest. It is about much more than those six boys.

  2. I will agree with you about how excessive this has all become. I got a cell phone text telling me to wear black in support. I didn’t and in fact had on a very peach top yesterday. They did in fact beat the guy senseless.
    I don’t support violence that isn’t provoked. My father always told me while in school to defend myself if someone struck the first blow. Many black people wanted to fight me for the very reason Rev. Jackson attacks Obama. We don’t really know the WHOLE truth of what happened that day in Jena, but to say that the guy is an “innocent bystander” may be a stretch. He was pointed out as one of the supporters of those ropes hanging in effigy, supposedly. And I don’t think these guys would have beat up a student who was “just some white kid” or something. There was provocation somewhere in there. And the attack was definitely the extreme.
    But to send these guys to 20 years is more than likely a race thing, even though I pride myself on not playing the “race card” in most cases in my life. If the opposite happened to a black student, I severely doubt the same charge would have been given.
    You can’t say it isn’t about race. It is to prove a point. To send out a message to anyone who tries this again. Who crosses that line.

  3. At the risk of sounding narrow minded, I can’t believe that a march or protest of this magnitude has taken place.
    At the end of the day, whether you’re black white or red, if you commit a crime, you gotta do the time. You can’t expect to get away with it by turning around and saying “Oh, we did this because they did that.”
    The facts remain that those guys beat up an innocent bystander. Now they don’t want to be punished. They should have thought about that beforehand.

  4. Hi Ricky Price —
    Let’s agree everything you said is fair and valid — now we need to bend time both ways to further examine the reality in Jena.
    First we go back a bit in time. I do not know a young Black man who doesn’t think the justice system is jiggered against him and even though the incarceration rates are pretty evenly distributed between the Races, there is solid research evidence that minorities are initially charged and prosecuted at a higher and more severe rate than Whites — and there is direct evidence that Black-on-Black crime is not prosecuted as aggressively as when Blacks attack Whites.
    Now, I ask you, if you are a young Black man, is it better for you to go along with the status quo, accept the reality in the inequity and try to gather along your life without looking for trouble?
    The Jena 6 argument begins to dissolve in the light of that well-known and well-documented inequity in decisions to prosecute.
    So why, then, would you, as a young Black Man — go out looking to beat up a White school chum. For revenge? For street justice? For fun? Expect society to punish you as harshly as possible for any of those rationales.
    If you decide to willingly challenge the White Devil and the system he controls by beating up a White kid without direct provocation — why would you expect fairness and justice when your own experience tells you it doesn’t exist and you will not be given a fair shake? There are better ways to challenge that status quo than seeking out and beating someone.
    Now we need to fast forward a bit into the future and wonder what would happen if the attempted murder charges stayed in place at trial. Would that charge stick in the end? Is there any jury of 12 in the world who would convince on that charge with such flimsy evidence?
    Overreaching can be an advantage in the justice system for the accused because jurors can sniff out unfairness and turn on the prosecution.
    The Jena 6 need to tremble being rightly prosecuted for the crime they committed because any regular citizen — regardless of minority status or skin color — will always wish to prevent that sort of violence from happening to them or their family will certainly vote to convict as severely as the law will allow.

  5. Hi Dawn!
    I do wish this had been handled better. For Black activists, however, this happening in Jena helps their cause, but not necessarily the cause of the young men accused of the beating. There is TV time to be had, history to be “made” and interviews to be given.
    I can’t get over wondering what might’ve happened if one of those involved in the noose hangings and one of the Jena 6 approached each other calmly and rationally and started to discuss the semiotics of that action of intimidation. Were the nooses there to prove a point? To be hurtful? To be funny?
    Fists are easy to fling. Dialog is much harder to catch and convey ideas that might not be shared — but that is the ultimate task of living a human life — getting along with each other and not trying to kill or beat up those with whom you do not agree.

  6. Just a view comments from my perspective. First off the photos above hardly seem to be representative of “justice seeking” – it appears to be more like a provocative display of ethnic chauvinism meant not to seek justice per say, but to intimidate.
    I’m not a fan of “hate crimes” – hate is, and has always been subjective and therefore it removes the objectivity implied in the rule of law.
    Were the nooses a provocative act? Sure they were. But what prompted the act?
    The first amendment guarantees the Right of Assembly. This right says that people can congregate with others of their choosing. Conversely, this also means that you have a right to not associate with those of your choosing.
    The whites chose to assemble at a certain place, at a certain time. The blacks intended to barge in on that, thereby denying the whites their right of assembly.
    Further, the whites chose to assemble at a place (a place the blacks referred to as the “White Tree”) the reference of which is racially provocative. What if the white students had referred to the bleachers as the “Black Bleachers”? I think it goes without saying that there would be an uproar.

  7. Thanks for that provocative comment, Lao! The definition of a “Hate Crime” is truly interesting because is does seem to depend a lot on perspective and not necessarily on common human decency.
    The “White Tree” issue has a historic resonance in America — in the time of “Whites Only” drinking fountains and when Blacks were required to sit in the back of the bus.
    So when the Black student asked if that tree was only for Whites — the question had a deep and resonant imperative that was affirmed by an authority figure that the tree was, in fact, a non-discriminatory meeting place and “open” to everyone.
    That open answer then resulted in the horrifying social semiotic of hanging nooses in a visually vocal retort from part of the radical community core.

  8. respectfully, the issue goes way beyond “whites only” seating. remember that this happened in a part of the country where for many decades black males could be lynched by white mobs for nothing more than the mere accusation — truthful or otherwise — of having looked at a white woman. blacks lived with the constant possibility of violent attack if they did something that made them look as if they didn’t know ‘their place.’ as far as the right to assemble, suggesting that there may be some justification for the implied threat of violent death in response to the black students asking to be allowed to sit at a spot that to then had been used by white students is genuinely disturbing, at least to me.

  9. Jesse jackson accusing Barack Obama as acting white—Insane, he is after all biracial lol. The Jenna 6 march comparable to some other monumental marches in civil rights history—not exactly. The school board not giving the kids who hung the nooses more than 3 days in-school supension—very wrong. They could prob. have prevented it from escalating further.
    The black teenagers who beat the white teenager until he was unconcious—yeah that could have been handled better. The severity of the punishment for those teenagers being racially motivated—hmmm let me think…yeah of course.
    But then that is just my humble opinion 😀