Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Jena 6, over a year later


The town barbershop still refuses to serve Black people in Jena, Louisiana.
After rotting my brain on Fried Green Tomatoes (no, I don't think it needs a review, do you?) I flipped my mostly eggwhite and lots of muenster cheese omelet (perfection) onto a bagel with home-grown sliced tomatoes and returned to a warm teev.

CNN showed thousands upon thousands of civil rights protesters descending upon Jena (pronouced Geena), Louisiana, all up in arms about the Jena 6. This, while you and I went to work. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, according to news sources, said that the demonstration is about deteriorating race relations as much as justice gone wrong.

You know, if you live in an ivory tower, if you hang out with people who have had the privilege of a college education, it's entirely possible that you might fool yourself into thinking that indeed, because you actually love looking at the skin pigmentation of other people, that perhaps racism is on a decline.
But it's not in the good old South.

The fellow on CNN credited the blogosphere for the demonstration. Were it not for cybernet interest, there would be no interest, basically.

I went directly to the Internet, of course. Tom Leonard, reporting for the Telegraph in the UK, gives us the following:
The six teenagers were arrested after Justin Barker, 17, was beaten unconscious last December at school. The attack followed an incident at the school in which three nooses were hung from a tree in the school-yard.

The tree had traditionally been a gathering place for white students but, the day before the nooses appeared, some black classmates had met there.

Justin Barker, aged 17, was beaten unconscious. Significantly for the protesters, the local prosecutor decided not to charge the three white students who hung the nooses.
Five of the six were initially charged with attempted murder; the charges for the sixth were not disclosed as he was a juvenile.

Although the attempted murder charges were later reduced to battery, it did little to quell the anger among black Americans who came to yesterday's protest by the busload from all over the country.
That's today.

So I cut to the original story from June, 2006 at WhileSeated.org, complete with cool Utube video.

Here's a chunk from that historic post:
In September 2006, a group of African American high school students in Jena, Louisiana, asked the school for permission to sit beneath a "whites only" shade tree. There was an unwritten rule that blacks couldn't sit beneath the tree. The school said they didn't care where students sat. The next day, students arrived at school to see three nooses (in school colors) hanging from the tree. (Please note, the tree above is not the tree, but a tree at Jena High School.)

The boys who hung the nooses were suspended from school for a few days. The school administration chalked it up as a harmless prank, but Jena's black population didn't take it so lightly. Fights and unrest started breaking out at school. The District Attorney, Reed Walters, was called in to directly address black students at the school and told them all he could "end their life with a stroke of the pen."

Black students were assaulted at white parties. A white man drew a loaded rifle on three black teens at a local convenience store. (They wrestled it from him and ran away.) Someone tried to burn down the school, and on December 4th, a fight broke out that led to six black students being charged with attempted murder. To his word, the D.A. pushed for maximum charges, which carry sentences of eighty years. Four of the six are being tried as adults (ages 17 & 18) and two are juveniles.

Yesterday, I was in Jena for the first day of the trial for Mychal Bell, one of the Jena 6. The D.A., perhaps in response to public pressure, tried to get Bell to cop a plea. Bell refused, and today, jury selection began. After today, we'll know whether or not the case will be tried in front of an all-white jury. Jena's 85-percent white, and it remains to be seen whether or not the six can get a fair trial.

Both off-the-record and on, Jena residents told me racism is alive and well in Louisiana, and this is a case where it rose above the levee, so to speak.

Seems to me, that energy of my generation is making a reappearance. So long a wait.

I wanna' be there next time.

Oh, and by the way. You know that you really should fry green tomatoes with a little olive oil, garlic, basil, s & p, right? Not just a dish from the South, you know.

therapydoc

8 comments:

CatherineL said...

This is absolutely appalling. I watched a film the other night - don't remember the name but it had Gene Hackman and at the beginning 3 civil rights protesters had gone missing.

The film was set in the fifties and I had no idea that you still had problems this bad in the south of your country (I am from the uk).

It certainly puts me off visiting the area.

I do not understand how a school can write off the hanging of nooses from a tree like that as a prank. The children responsible should have been made an example of, to deter others.

therapydoc said...

C., the South is HUGE. I have no idea if this kind of prejudice is widespread or not. You got the point, however.

liberated psych said...

They solved the problem. They cut down the tree.

therapydoc said...

Thanks, liberated. You're right. Sheesh.

Jack's Shack said...

The movie is Mississippi Burning.

therapydoc said...

That was a great movie.

Bruce Larson*Moore said...

Swinging*Tree

Suspended upon the limbs and branches of society hangs a self destructive, taut line of inhuman power,

Bound within an illusion of glory and grace on the living tree of mankind,

Crossing a river of uncounted souls, holding on to the hope of a shared love without the fall of color, history nor gender,

Swinging upon the tree of humanity a fabricated innocence of denial, uneasily waiting, silently begging, desperately pleading for the open expression, healing discussion and outward, public display of the true sins hung upon swinging trees across the globe.

©Bruce Larson*Moore
2007

brittoo 2000 said...

I have no idea if this kind of prejudice is widespread or not. You got the point, however.
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Glory777
Louisiana Treatment Centers