Tag: Jena 6

To All The Racists Hiding Behind Martin Luther King

Mychal Bell is a bad boy, didja know that?  He was violent.  He was a bad boy.  And because of that, no one should protest on his behalf, because if they do, they’re misguided, yes, they are misguided because it was far worse, his beating up that white boy, than it was to put some nooses on a tree.  No one was sent to the emergency room as a result of nooses on a tree.  But Mychal Bell sent a white boy to the emergency room, and he is bad.

Yep.  He was violent.  And further more, I’m no racist!  Oh no, I would be the first to say those white boys who put a noose on a tree should have been expelled!  Yes, expelled!  And those school board folks and the DA, well they should be held to account, yes they should!  But that Mychal Bell, he’s a bad boy, and you are misguided to protest on his behalf.  After all, he was violent.  What would Martin Luther King say?  He would never have marched in Jena.

And I have to say, that Mychal Bell is a lucky fellow, he’s going to have so many opportunities because of all that media attention, all that money coming his way, he’s a lucky boy and I hope he takes advantage of all these opportunities.  I wish him no ill, I just hope he realizes how lucky he is!


All the sentiments above are from comments I have read both at Daily Kos and elsewhere over the Jena 6.  My response is below.

Mychal Bell Jailed Again — Equal Protection Under the Law — NOT

Just read a diary over at Daily Kos by rico — turns out that Mychal Bell (of the Jena 6) has been jailed again.

From the link (and it’s a short article so I am quoting its entirety – hope that is all right):

JENA, La. (AP) – A Louisiana teen at the center of a civil rights controversy is back in jail.

The father of Mychael Bell says a judge in Jena (JEE’-nuh), Louisiana, has revoked Bell’s probation because of an old drug charge that had never been tried.

Bell and five other black teenagers had been accused of beating a white classmate. He was originally charged with attempted murder and then convicted of battery. An appeals court threw out the conviction, saying the case should have been brought in juvenile court.

Bell was released last month after thousands demonstrated in Jena to protest the severity of the charges against the teens.

Bell’s father says his son was detained after going to juvenile court for what was expected to be another routine hearing.

And Mychal needs to go to JAIL for this?  After he had already served so many months?  Something about this whole thing just plain stinks.

Ok, let’s see.  Be a mercenary and murder all kinds of folks, women, children, in Iraq?  No problem, no jail.  Head a telecommunications corporation and spy on Americans?  Hey, we’ll make sure you are retroactively protected!  Leak information about a covert CIA agent, risking our own national security?  Oh no problemo, a Presidential pardon awaits!

Equal protection under the law has become a joke.

Mychal Bell goes with his father to a routine hearing in juvenile court.  And now he is in jail.  Let’s look at a worst case scenario.  Let’s say he has broken probation.  Let’s say he has had problems with crime.

Let’s look at the picture here.  A white student pulls a gun on black students, they wrestle the gun away from him — the black students are arrested.  The white student doesn’t even get a slap on the wrist.

Mr. Jindal, Meet Mr. Crow

Ah, it’s deja vu all over again. Clear case of racism in Jena. After a lot of hard work, individual blogs run by people of color, sometimes under nasty threats, cover this story enough for it to be taken up by the traditional media (usually badly, but that’s the way it goes). Add to that, these blogs, along with grassroots organizations, through the intertubes and radio, organize an astonishing march in Jena, a march for civil rights, for equal protection under the law.

And the unjust charges which would have put Mychal Bell away for way too many years are reduced by the racist DA.

Does anyone think this would have happened without protest, without media coverage of this injustice? Because I don’t. But seems Louisiana gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal has a different view, a — shall we say — “old-fashioned” view.

Thanks to NOLA blogger oyster over at Your Righthand Thief — well, actually, thanks to one of his commenters, N. La. Lady, Mr. Jindal seems to be living in an older America, say, the Jim Crow era.

While the peaceful protest was going on in Jena, Mr. Jindal was stumping in Shreveport, speaking to students at LSUS. His reaction to the peaceful protest?

When asked about the impact of racial conflict in Louisiana, his response was déjà vu – unpleasantly reminiscent of the words and attitudes of southern politicians of not so long ago. When asked to comment on the demonstration in Jena, he said, “We don’t need anybody to divide us. We certainly don’t need outside agitators to cause problems.”

This comment attributed to Jindal was posted a while back over at Your Righthand Thief, but several commenters wanted more proof that this had been said — thinking that of course this kind of language would have made the news … wouldn’t it?

Hang a noose if you must, but don’t you dare sing!!

John Mellencamp wrote a song about racism, which he titled “Jena”.  From the linked website:

“I am not a journalist, I am a songwriter and in the spirit and tradition of the minstrel, I am telling a story in this song. [cut]

The song was not written as an indictment of the people of Jena but, rather, as a condemnation of racism, a problem which I’ve reflected in many songs, a problem that still plagues our country today.

Equal Protection Under the Law – What You Can Do

One thing I like about DocuDharma is that it is not just about party politics, about the Democrats, the 2008 elections, the usual drumbeat we all know too well.

This site is also about issues and ideas and values, and one of those values very dear to my heart is social justice.

I was over at Kai’s site, zuky – which by the way, is on our blogroll here, and who Nezua over at the Unapologetic Mexican (also on our blogroll) characterizes as the people of color (POC) blogosphere’s “Digby.”  In other words, her posts rank up there as a gold standard of POC blogging, and if you check out her site, you’ll see why.

The post I have linked above speaks about the phenomenal effort the POC blogosphere and grassroots communities made to put the story of the Jena 6 in the national spotlight — an extremely difficult task that the liberal blogs were late in covering, due to the above emphasis on party politics rather than issues and values and social justice — and helped create the amazing civil rights march in Jena that took place yesterday.

Kai writes about what should be done now, after the march, and there is indeed a great deal to be done.  We know now that mychal bell lost his case to be released from prison.  And we also know this story will not escape the usual racist spin.

I urge everyone to read the entire post as well as the links — it tells an amazing story of organization and commitment, one we all would do well to emulate and join.  Some of her reflections:

Now that most semi-conscious people out there have heard the basic outlines of the story, I see it as the job of (real) progressives to assert an anti-racist narrative frame in popular discourse. All too often stripped of historical and social context, the story can get fragmented and reduced to a random series of isolated incidents to be pondered like some cheesy Law And Order script, hyper-focused on legal technicalities and the minutiae of violence. But properly contextualized, the story neatly illustrates the fundamental realities of institutional racism in action: the white control of decision-making offices at all levels – school board, law enforcement, district attorney, judge and jury – and the draconian penalties which befall young persons of color who resist the racist social order, as hauntingly symbolized by the wide leafy oak tree in the center of the schoolyard whose cool southern shade was jealously reserved for white skin only.

In my view, the most striking element of the extensive CNN coverage I watched yesterday was the profundity of white denial of racism. Almost without exception, white Jena residents who were asked whether there was “racial tension” in their town suddenly looked as though a major chunk of their brain short-circuited and went dark, their eyes went flat, and they mass-hypnotically mouthed hollow statements such as “No we’re not that kind of people, we play football together.” And that’s because one of the effects of racism is precisely a sort of mass hypnosis which insidiously blinds people to the flagrant system of power and oppression under which they live by making the racist power structure seem as natural and invisible as the air we breathe.

Sadly, I had a personal experience at work today which illustrates quite well the “mass hypnosis” Kai writes about.  My comment to her post:

I think you are absolutely right that this is not the end of the story.

I took a call today for a lawyer (I’m a legal secretary), it was a fellow from Louisiana. I blog a lot about NOLA, so I asked him where he was from. He said Alexandria, and then made a comment about how that was near Jena. He made some sort of joke about how they all were making a lot of money because of all the folks going to Jena to protest.

Got a sinking feeling in my stomach, but tried to stay professional. I said I hoped things worked out for all, that justice was served. He made some comment that he didn’t like the “stereotyping” going on. The sinking feeling in my stomach grew worse — I responded, “well, I think a lot of folks in this country are getting sick of being stereotyped.” His voice became a bit colder and we quickly ended the conversation.

Equal protection under the law. That is exactly what this is about. Law makes no sense at all unless it is applied equally. In the case of the Jena 6, it is crystal clear that was not the case.

Thanks for the great work you have done — have signed the petition and will blog about this myself as well, to get more signatures.

Folks in the liberal blogosphere talk every now and then about “diversity,” as though it was sort of an optional value to Progressives.  I disagree — I think it is essential and it is not about party politics or the mechanics of same.  Sure, I will support local candidates I think are progressive, from Gilda Reed in Louisiana to Barry Welch in Indiana.  But there is more to being Progressive than supporting candidates.  There is something called solidarity, and we don’t read enough about that.

Read what you can do below!