The Jena 6

Hey, people. I would be remiss if I didn’t weigh in on the Jena 6 situation. I was just listening to Michael Baisden, and could not believe the stuff that I was hearing.

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He, along with many of his listeners, plan to march on the courthouse in Jena, Louisiana on September 20 for the sentencing of Mychal Bell. Baisden feels that it is his duty to bring national attention to this matter. He wants to make sure that this story doesn’t just die down and these young men get railroaded. Steve Harvey and a host of other big name celebrities have thrown their name behind it as well.

I am not one to think that just because someone is a celebrity they should get behind something, but this time, that is just what I am advocating. I even think that Oprah should throw her weight behind this. This kind of stuff just cannot be allowed to continue.

For those of you who don’t know, this is a case involving outright prejudice in this day and age. The young men are Robert Bailey (17), Theo Shaw (17), Carwin Jones (18), Bryant Purvis (17), Mychal Bell (17) and an unidentified minor. They are collectively known as The Jena 6. Everything centers on a town in Louisiana where there was still a “white” tree until a couple of months ago.

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This is how the story goes:

During an assembly at the high school, a young black male stood up and asked the principal if he could sit under the “whites only” tree, to which the principal replied that he could sit anywhere he wanted. The next day, a couple of black students proceeded to sit under the tree.The response: Three nooses hanging from the tree. Students in question were given an in-school suspension.

The principal dismissed this as a harmless prank. Afterwards, with racial tensions at the boiling point, fights began to break out all over the place. A couple of white kids attacked a black kid at a mostly white party.

Outcome: Nothing. No one arrested. One charged, given probation and told to apologize. (For real!)

The other part of the story involves three young men in a convenience store minding their own business when a white male comes along, an argument begins and escalates. At which point the white male pulls a gun. The black males end up with the gun.

Outcome: White male- nothing. Black males-charged with stealing a fire arm. Yes, this actually happened. No joke!

Next, a couple of black kids attacked a white kid for bragging that he was the one who attacked the black male at the mostly white party.

Outcome: All arrested. 1 convicted. 5 awaiting trial- facing up to 22 years in jail.

A tennis shoe is the lethal weapon that the young men are being charged with using to commit attempted murder. You heard me right- attempted murder- with a tennis shoe.

Another disturbing piece of information I heard while listening to Michael Baisden, came directly from Marcus Jones, the father of 17 year old Mychal Bell, involved a local minister going into the jail and chastising the young man for not accepting a plea bargain. He told him that he had the whole town in an uproar for nothing.

Is that right? Nothing, huh…

The boy’s father said that he was upset about it and rightly so. Who is this minister to tell him that? How did he get in to see the boy without the father or mother’s permission or without approval of the lawyer?

Another incident was phoned in by a reporter who called into the show and spoke about students wearing t-shirts saying “Free the Jena 6″. He also spoke about students wearing “Support the Jena 1″ in reference to the white male who was attacked. According to the caller, the students who were wearing the “Free the Jena 6″ t-shirts were under threat of suspension if they wore them again. However, at no time were the students who wore “Support the Jena 1″ under any such threat.

What is happening to those young men is a travesty. It would be a travesty no matter what race the boys are. It just so happens that they’re black because this type of thing happens to black males most often.

I know I said that I wanted to keep my blog lighthearted, but I broke that rule a long time ago. I had to write about this. It hits home to me because I have three young black men. Anytime something happens involving young black men, I always put myself in the mother’s position. I can’t even imagine what that mom is feeling knowing that her teenage son could face 22 years in prison for what amounts to a school yard fight.

What bothers me about this situation is that this is 2007. This shouldn’t be happening. I am happy that it’s getting national attention. First DWB and other injustices came under scrutiny and into the light. Now this has come to the light. I really do hope that justice is served. I really do.

I am not saying that either sets of boys were right. I’m just saying that the crime ought to fit the punishment. Give them a three day suspension, instead of 22 years in jail.

I’d say that’s a tad bit unfair!!!!!!!!! Don’t ya’ think!

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10 Responses

  1. Agreed: punishment should fit the crime.. and I support their efforts to fight the obviously racist and backward regime in Jena, but I also profoundly disappointed that these teens resorted to busting someone’s head over racist remarks. There had to be better ways of dealing with this.

  2. There was definitely a better way of dealing with this. Sometimes mob mentality rules.

  3. This reminds me of an old news paper article that I read about 9 years ago in a small country town in West Texas about MORDERN DAY SLAVERY,I cut it out and saved it. When I find it I will fax it to you.

  4. I would definitely like to see that article. When you find it, please send it to me.

  5. This situation is yet another example of how our young black men are the undisputed target of this society. If there was anyone who was on the fence about the blatant racism that still exists in 2007, then this incident should not only have them on the other side of that fence, but about 20 miles deep into the pasture!

    I am not condoning what the young men did, but in a way…I am! They did not use weapons, they did was what young boys have been doing since the beginning of time…they used their FISTS and fought. I’m not an advocate of violence, but what must be addressed is what drove them to their anger. This wasn’t just a random “beat down”, the actions of those White children prompted this incident. And what of their punishment? None so far as any of us can see. How an old fashion beat-down would warrant 2 decades in prison is beyond me and should outrage not only anyone who has a male child, but anyone PERIOD! It is outrageous and I’m sickened at the fact that I am raising a young black man who could very well be subjected to the injustices of this world one day.

    Lord help us.

  6. I do agree. The source of all the beef. When the nooses were hanged, that should have been addressed. This is what made everything escalate. If anyone had their head in the sand as to what was going on before this, this sure should have made them sit up and take notice. I really do hope that justice will be served. We’ll see on September 20.

  7. Not only should the punishment fit the crime, but the proof needs to be there. Eye-witness testimonials from biased sources to a biased jury will never result in a fair trial. You need to have a defense council that is able to see all the facts and tie them together, someone who will show where the fault lies… You need someone to show that there is a prevalent sense of racism in this area, and that this racism is really affecting this trial. I mean seriously, look at the jury. Everyone is white and one of them went to school with the father of the assaulted white kid? Yeah, that’s fair.

    And then you’ve got eye-witness tesimonials from friends of the white kid, testimonials which have changed after time and “suddenly” they can remember that it was this kid that attacked? I don’t think so. Stick to the reports filed when the incident first happened, and if you’re going to ask them to testify again, show how they’re biased!

    And then the root of this problem. Anyone in America who doesn’t see the fact these nooses represented lynching is an idiot who has absolutely no understanding of American history and they need to be educated RIGHT. NOW. “Innocent prank” my ass.

    Seriously this is messed up. I’m wearing all black tomorrow and writing JENA 6 on my hand. I hope others do the same.

    By the way, I’m white.

    ~Crystal

  8. Thanks Crystal for you comment. I am going to rescind a statement that I made in another post about this being a black thing. It isn’t!
    Not anymore. Maybe in the beginning, it was, but not now.

  9. I found my way to this blog by way of a co-workers facebook page. I’ve read the blog and while I agree, 22 years in jail when nobody died is insane, I look at the racism problem in America and say “Hey, wait a minute” You know as long as there is BET, Black History Month, quota’s, and the media and people in general always mentioning a persons color when it has no baring on a story, how are we ever going to move forward? In my opinion, ANYONE that uses the N-word is wrong. Either that word is OK for everyone, or it’s horrible for everyone. I agree you have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to know racism is alive and thriving even today, but if i started the WET, or used the N-word, I’d be cast out by society. To let a group that has been wronged behave in the same manner as the people who wronged them is nuts, and it’s not going to bring us together as people. I’m sick of the ‘Black/White” thing. My parents did not raise me to treat people unfairly, and I DO NOT lump folks into a group and hate them. So I have to pay for the grief that white bags of garbage caused in the past, but is there no burden on Black folks my age to also move forward and stop keeping a word that defines some of our worst moments alive? BET, BS, how about the ET and let folks enjoy it? We say we want to treat each other the same and then we make up different rules as we go. I don’t like my black friends because they are black, I like them because they are people I like. I only mention “Black Friends” to make a point. i do not think of them as “My Black Friends”. Anyway, 22 years? If WE let that happen, shame on US.

  10. Curt, sorry it took so long to respond. I’m glad you found my blog. You make valid points. I agree with what you say about being deaf, blind and dumb not to know that racism is alive and well in our society. We have a Black president and things are as bad as ever. I also agree that an eye for an eye is not going to bring us together. This is an old story. He definitely didn’t get sentenced to 22 years. It would have been a shame if it would have happened.
    What it will take to bring us so simple. We need to learn each other. About each others’ cultures, likes, dislike…everything. Sit down & break bread with someone. Once you break bread with someone, can you really still hate that person?

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