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.


Gene said...

Whoa. Were folks really selling Jena 'nalia?!

(side note: When folks are doing stuff like that I wonder who started the black people are lazy stereotypes!?)

I can see how stepping could be awkward, but art has always been used as a form of protest. It wouldn't have been out of place for someone to sing, do a monologue or an interpretive dance. So as long as the frats weren't shimmying or putting their hind dog leg up, I'm cool ... I think. LOL.

But I feel you ... I think many don't know why they protested ... or maybe I should say many don't know what I think they should have protested. I guess the truth is that while you and I agree that we needed to call attention to a corrupt legal system, there are those who really think what the boys did was acceptable and that any punishment is unfair. I guess that's the benefit and the curse of living in the land of the free.

Gene said...

You're right. Jena will permanently be changed, but from what I've seen that's not a bad thing.

I can't imagine race relations in the city getting much worse. They are already at a major low.

hottnikz said...

I thought the purpose of the rally was to show support for the six teens and express to the DA down there that the punishments were too severe. I guess I did miss something because I don't see how the NAACP sitting down with the family of the boy was going to change that DA's mind. He has a hard on for these boys to do serious adult time in jail point blank period and it shows because he is appealing the Mycheal Bell ruling being overturned.

I understand where you are coming from, but I think protest is better than being silent. And you are always going to have those that don't fully get the meaning, but at least we SEEM unified about something for once. Maybe if the racists down there see that those young men have worldwide support they will realize that it's not 1957, it's 2007 & they need to act accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Intelligent Ignorance at its finest!

Anonymous said...

Tuesday - September 18, 2007 by Jolene "foxxylady" Petipas
Twista, Killer Mike and Sean Paul of YoungBloodz are among many hip-hop artists slated to perform at a benefit concert for the Jena 6 during the "Let Freedom Ring Weekend" in Birmingham, Alabama.

The "Let Freedom Ring Weekend" will be used as a platform to raise awareness and show support for the Jena 6 - six black students facing lengthy jail time for an attack on a white schoolmate in Louisiana.

The incident occurred last August after a black student sat under a particular tree on the school grounds where white students traditionally gather. Following his presence there, 3 nooses were hung from the tree.

The students accused of hanging the nooses were suspended from school for a short period of time causing racial tensions to rise.

The six teens in question were originally charged with attempted second-degree murder but following protests from civil rights advocates, some of the charges were reduced. Yet, many feel as if they are still being treated more harshly due to race.

The "Let Freedom Ring Weekend" will kick off on Friday (September 28) with a press conference at the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum at 1 p.m. and will be followed by a peace rally at Parker High School at 4 p.m.

The "Jena 6 Empowerment Concert" will take place on Saturday (September 29) at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center at 6 p.m. Other artists slated to perform at the concert include Rasheeda, B5, Lloyd, Kandi, Tank, Baby Boy and Jagged Edge.

"What's happening to the Jena 6 is not an isolated incident; it could happen to any of us," Baby Boy said via a statement.

Tickets for the "Jena 6 Empowerment Concert" are available via

In related news, Mos Def will be holding a rally for the six students in Jena on Thursday (September 20). The Brooklyn bred rapper issued a challenge to celebrities and artists including Will Smith, Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Kanye West to take action during an appearance on political satirist Bill Maher's HBO show "Real Time" last week.

Visit for more information on Mos' rally.

tweezie said...

I'm not anti "Let Freedom Ring" rally but I had to LOL! Then I reminds me of the Boondock episode when MLK came back...


Andrew The Asshole said...

It hurt race relations of the town. The south is still 25+ years behind. I think this has alot to do with low education, low income and in an environment that races keep to themselves. Even if you look at majority of your college or professional experience their is not much mixing of races.

Don said...

lmao @ tweezie. I remember that particular episode.