I read a good article via Yahoo this morning about the Jena 6 case and how there are nuances that make it more gray than black and white. I figured this would be the case. In fact, I am pretty sure that the Long Beach Halloween attack was more black and white than this case is, but nobody wanted to touch that case because the attackers were clearly black teenagers.
The article notes there are a few facts that are not touted in the reports that have bounced back and forth from coast to coast:
_The so-called “white tree” at Jena High, often reported to be the domain of only white students, was nothing of the sort, according to teachers and school administrators; students of all races, they say, congregated under it at one time or another.
_Two nooses ‚Äî not three ‚Äî were found dangling from the tree. Beyond being offensive to blacks, the nooses were cut down because black and white students “were playing with them, pulling on them, jump-swinging from them, and putting their heads through them,” according to a black teacher who witnessed the scene.
_There was no connection between the September noose incident and December attack, according to Donald Washington, an attorney for the U.S. Justice Department in western Louisiana, who investigated claims that these events might be race-related hate crimes.
_The three youths accused of hanging the nooses were not suspended for just three days ‚Äî they were isolated at an alternative school for about a month, and then given an in-school suspension for two weeks.
_The six-member jury that convicted Bell was, indeed, all white. However, only one in 10 people in LaSalle Parish is African American, and though black residents were selected randomly by computer and summoned for jury selection, none showed up.
I highly doubt there was no connection between the nooses being hung and the fight that became the Jena 6 case. That’s the sort of symbol that inflames blacks from any parish, town, city or state in America. In fact, I highly doubt there’s any ethnicity in America or anywhere that sees a noose as a positive symbol. There may be no direct, empirical connection — but it all adds up. Call it the snowball effect.
It also cracks me up that blacks had an opportunity to be a part of this case, but no one answered the jury summons. Good job, people. Jury duty is just like voting — you can’t complain about the outcome if you don’t come out to participate.
The article is very detailed in how far Jena has come since it was Ku Klux Klan country. They have a black town council member just 50 years after the last recalled cross burning. But discrimination in attitude speaks way louder than words — the article says the town has no black doctors, no black lawyers (but wasn’t Mychal Bell’s public defender black?) and a lone black accountant who works out of sight at one of the town’s handful of banks.
Of course, there’s the other signs of uneven justice — the immediate police responses for white folks’ emergencies and the lax, hour-long responses for black folks. The lack of white collar jobs for blacks. It doesn’t excuse it, but these attitudes and underlying feelings probably led to those boys taking things into their own hands.
Bottom line: everyone should have been punished for their wrongs. The black boys should be punished for beating that white boy — but attempted murder charges? C’mon. Whoever hung those nooses (two, not three) should have been expelled and the incident should have been reported to police. The school board, superintendent and district attorney should be forced to undergo racial sensitivity classes — and maybe reassigned to South LA.