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.
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.
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!
Filed under: Food for thought, In the know!!, life, Miscellaneous, teaching | 10 Comments »