Jena Six And Other Woes

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[When The Smoke Clears]


Well, my beautiful black brothers and sisters, I’m back.

You haven’t heard from me for a while, but a lot has been going on and I needed to afford myself some much needed analytical and critical thinking time.

The Black community has been exhibiting too many knee jerk responses to the things that happen to us. We see something in the news and we have to have something to say about it. There are so many things that we have to discuss as a community without needing the media to jog us.

For example, the debate on the word nigger. Why do we insist upon inviting the  government and its subordinates to regulate what we say? We shouldn’t use the word nigger because it offends some Black people. That our kith and kin are offended is enough of a reason. It is a sad commentary that we seem to need a national mandate.

Our love for our people and our shared suffering should be deep enough to garner that respect.  If a sister objects to being called a bitch or a hoe, don’t call her one. We are a creative people. We can come up with much nicer and kinder words to describe ourselves if we work hard enough and if we are really honest with ourselves.

Also, if we offend one another, we automatically shut down. If we say we’re trying to build bridges or create music or art that paints a picture of our experiences so that others can understand where we come from, then we need to stop using language that offends people and burns those bridges before we can even cross them. And we can figure out how to do this using our own common sense.

This is not an issue of censorship. At the end of the day, what are really being censored are the diverse voices of many artists who will never be on primetime because they have a message that is revolutionary and thought-provoking. They won’t get a shot because they are anti status quo; they are about life changing ideas. They demand more of people.

They want to have a positive impact on their communities. This is in direct opposition to what mainstream media wants to feed us. We are made to feel less than so that we can buy more. Our history is retold to us, not just our past but also our present. It is spoon fed to us in such a way that those who care nothing for us seem right. Meanwhile, we doubt our own validity. We feel uncomfortable loving ourselves, respecting who we are and what we create.

The real issue that needs to be discussed – not debated- in terms of solutions is that all across America, our Black brothers and sisters are criminalized. We are sent away to serve long prison terms from ages as young as five years old, as in the case of Jai White and the seven year old boy who was arrested for sitting on a scooter. The same can be said for the case of the teenager who was convicted and sent to jail for pushing a teacher.

We have to address the raw in-your-face double standards in the way our entertainers are treated. Foxy Brown, Lil Kim and DMX do jail time; Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton are let go. Whites get the most lenient sentences, often being let off with probation which they violate or community service which they don’t do.

This leads me to the Jenna 6.

In a high school in a small town in Jenna Louisiana, Black students sit under a tree that’s supposed to be “reserved” for white students. The next day whites hang nooses on the tree. This sparks a racial brawl which leaves one white student severely injured. The Black students involved are charged with felony counts of assault. District Attorney Reed Walters decides to prosecute these kids not only as adults but to the fullest extent of the law.

The Jenna 6 were arrested in November with outrageous bails set from $70,000 to $138,000. The first student to go on trial in June was Mychal Bell who was forced to sit in jail because he was unable to post bail. He was judged by an all white jury in a courtroom with a white judge and he was represented by a court appointed attorney. The prosecutor called 16 witnesses who were mostly white. The defense attorney didn’t call any witnesses on the defendant’s behalf and said that Mychal Bell was the first to punch Justin baker, the white boy.

The trial was so outrageous that a Louisiana TV station polled their viewers and found that 62% said that Mychal wasn’t getting a fair trail. He was convicted of two felonies: aggravated second degree battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated second degree battery. Those charges can carry a sentence of up to 22 years in prison. The other defendants are waiting on their trial but we can’t expect them to get any better than that.

But the media refuses to talk about this case. We need to talk about the media blackout that won’t let this information out. This is why we must support publications like The Black Star News so they can become a stronger resource. We need to tune in to the Ghetto Chronicle and other shows like it. We must support these institutions so that we can tell the stories that really matter and affect our community.

More…when the smoke clears.

Revolution, then peace.

Black Star Publisher's Note: We must all act immediately.

Their names are: Bryant Purvis, Jesse Beard, Carwin Jones, Mychal Bell, Theodoore Shaw and Rovert Bailey. Mychal Bell was recently convicted of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. An all-white jury took less than 2 days to convict him. He faces up to 22 years in prison. His sentencing is set for Sept. 20, 2007
Write immediately Office of the Governor Attn: Constituent Services
P.O. Box 94004 Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004 Facsimile: 225-342-7099 

And call Call,  866-366-1121 or 225-342-0991 or 225-342-7015

The families have requested publicity and contributions to their defense fund (they cannot afford lawyers). The address to the Defense Fund is: Jena 6 Defense Committee, PO BOX 2798, Jena, LA 71342.

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