Friday, August 10, 2007

this is justice???

I'm completely dismayed to say that I just today heard about the situation happening in Jena, Louisiana, where racism is rearing its hideous head again (or still, I should say). I'm dumbfounded, astounded, and outraged.

I felt like I was in a time warp going back to the 60's when I was reading about it this morning. You can read Bill Quigley's article, "Black Nooses Hanging From the White Tree" here.

How could this be allowed to happen?
Let's see. Black students at a mostly white high school ask if they can sit under the "white tree," a tree on campus where white students congregate. The principal says they can sit wherever they want to, so they do. The next day, three black nooses are hanging from the "white tree." Nooses. In 2007. Can we flashback a mere forty years to 1967? The principal suspends the students involved, but the superintendent overrides the suspension, minimizing the impact of their actions.

Then a black youth shows up at an all-white party off campus, and he is beaten up. The next day, a white guy pulls out a sawed-off shotgun in a confrontation with young black men at the nearby Gotta Go convenience store outside Jena before the men wrestled it away from him. The black men who took the shotgun away were later arrested; no charges were filed against the white man.

Two days later, a white student -- who allegedly had been making racial taunts, including calling African-American students "n*****s," while supporting the students who hung the nooses and who beat up the black student at the off-campus party -- was knocked down, punched and kicked by black students. The white victim was taken to the hospital treated and released. He attended a social function that evening.

Six black Jena students were arrested and charged with attempted second-degree murder. All six were expelled from school.

Tell me how that works. How could six black teenagers be charged with attempted murder, one kept in prison on $90,000 bail, when the victim was treated and released the same day, and went to a "social event" later that day. Attempted murder???

The charges were later dropped to aggravated battery, which demands that a dangerous weapon was used in the attack. The "dangerous weapon" here? A pair of tennis shoes that one of the boys was wearing. Hello? Are they on a completely different cosmic plane? Do you see any white kids sitting in jail for months on end for beating up the black student? Where are the students who hung the nooses? Right back in school.

Do not think I am saying that people should not have consequences for their actions. As a parent, I am all about consequences, but they should be distributed equitably!

The situation that started all of this insanity? Black students wanting to know if they could sit under the "white tree" at the school where all the white kids always gathered. I'm sorry? Why would they need permission in the first place? That battle has already been fought.

And yet the three black nooses that showed up on the tree the next day were "just a prank," according to the school superintendent. "There was no harm in what they did," he said. "Just schoolboy pranks." Mmmm-hm. I'm sure that the not-so-subtle reminder of the lynchings that happened to so many blacks who stepped "out of place" in the past was completely unintentional. If you buy into that, I've got a nice bridge to sell you.

And the librarian in Jena was quoted saying, "We don't have a race problem in our town. Jena is a nice town." If she is a white woman, I'm sure she doesn't run into race problems in that town. If it doesn't affect you, it's easy to say it doesn't exist.

But, if you like, here is a link to a petition you can sign in support of the Jena 6, as the students are being called. As Edmund Burke once said, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.’

You can just leave your name, or you can add comments. I was reading through a few, and I liked the way Tonya Shiflet put it: "This was wrong. How can anyone in this day and time think that it is okay and fair for an all white jury to sentence a black child to 22 years in prison and all this started because of a tree that no one owns." Is there something I'm missing here? Seriously. Does anyone know more about this story?

Here are a few more links to related stories. This one links to a Gray Panthers blog. This one is from Blogher, posted back in May. (See how out of touch I've been?) This blog about unequal justice actually has nothing to do with Jena, but I came across it when I was reading today. You'll find it interesting.


Rosemarie said...

This is a great post/website to get the full updated scoop.

As a white woman I'm appalled at what still goes on, and though I was born in the 60's I didn't grow up in it.

Thanks for coming by with your kind words of encouragement.

Growing with Julia

Miss Paula said...

I can't believe this. Now, in this day? Outrageous is this story. You can't tell me that racism is dead. I will check out the link. What is happening to our country?

daisymarie said...

This just makes me want to weep. There are so many words and thoughts right now, I just don't know how to wade through them all right now....beyond wrong, beyond, way beyond.