Friday, September 21, 2007
The Way Jena Should Have Went Down...
It's one thing to protest for a cause if you're knowledgable on the situation and you know deep down that an injustice has been done that strikes a personal nerve within you. I'm not so sure that everybody that wore black yesterday did it out of that sense of responsibility.
When you turn on MSNBC and see fraternities stepping, African red, black and green flags, and vendors selling T-shirts in Jena, you have to wonder if the story reinvigorated the spirit of the 1960s or if folks saw it pubbed on 106 and Park and YouTube and thought it would be a cool way to make a statement about the Struggle. Will they feel that way tomorrow? or was it just a moment? I digress...
One thing that concerns me about how the situation went down was that even though the protest was successful in bringing attention to the case and put pressure on the Lousiana justice system to reduce the ridiculous charges (even before the protest took place), the 30,000 black folks that converged on town with a population of 3,000 (85% of which are white) seems like it's going to polarize the town and the South even more. Afterall, black people and white people on both sides have strong opinions on the issue. Black people were offended by the racial overtones of the case and white folks were mad that the beating of the white student is a mere footnote and seemingly justified by protestors.
So the question is, though the sentences were reversed, did the nature of the protest do more healing or did it open more wounds? What happens when the current population of 33,000 in Jena returns to 3,000? Did it change attitudes for better or for worse? I think when the smoke clears Jena is going to be even more polarized and will be left to deal with itself.
Call it idealistic, but imagine if the NAACP and Black Leadership would have reached out to the family of the white student that was beaten, condemned the Jena 6 for the beating of their son/relative while simultaneously pointing out the ridiculous, racist nature of the charges given to the Six for a school fight. Imagine if they would have garnered their support and stood side-by-side, acknowledged fault on both sides (racism vs. violence), condemned both acts, and approached the justice system together for a better solution. How powerful would that have been?
Instead, it comes off as an Us vs. Them/Black vs. White event that makes black people more frustrated and has probably created new racism on the other side.