I have been wanting to post about this since I heard about it, but I wanted to first gather as many facts about the situation before I posted any of my thoughts on the matter.
* The incidents happened in the fall of 2006.
* A group of 3 white students hung nooses in a tree on high school property.
* A group of 6 black students proceeded to beat a white kid unconscious because of escalated racial tension over the tree incident. (The six kids were prosecuted and one is still being held in jail because he has not posted bail.)
* The six kids were charged with “Attempted Murder” but later the charge was lowered for 5 of the kids to “Battery”.
* The white kids were never charged legally.
This is where the facts end, and the feelings from everywhere start to run wild. I want to first write a little background for my international readers that might now understand what this is all about. When you are from outside the U.S. and you hear about someone hanging nooses from a tree you never think of race relations, you think of the wild west.
Historically in the US, a cross burning, hanging nooses or even some people flying the confederate flags have been used as intimidation symbols by “white” people to “oppress blacks”. I put quotes around the words white and black because I personally believe that you cannot generalize to the color level. Not every white person in the U.S. is a cross burning member of the KKK and not every black person is a uneducated thug. When there is a racial incident in the U.S. everyone has to pick a side or risk being called racist.
I am sure if this town is an example of the many towns that are still segregated in the U.S. or not. I am not sure if there is race tension or not. One little known fact about the U.S. outside of here is that every single town seems to have places that are still segregated as in the “black” part of town, the “Hispanic” part of town, and here in KC, Johnson county. Wait a minute… I live in Johnson county… that’s right. There is no “white” part of town… or is there?
I personally would never want to leave in a place where I am not welcome. There are communities in Chicago where you cannot live unless you have X amount of dollars. And no, I do not mean you could not afford the house, I mean you have to be able to buy the whole town or they will not let you into their community. I am sure that KC also has exclusive communities and it is mostly economic. However, there are still places in the U.S. where the “black” part of town and the “white” part of town exist. I am not sure where all the Latinos live in those communities because I have yet to find a city in the U.S. without someone that speaks Spanish. I know where I am not welcome and I simply don’t go there.
The story of the Jena six goes something like this, the high school has a “white” tree. The tree where the “white” things hang out. Again, I am not 100% on this being a segregated town or not because I have never been there, but I know that I have been to town where I have been the darkest person for miles. Two “black” students sat under the tree and next thing you know nooses are hanging from it the following day. Obviously a racist statement that should have been properly addressed, and in some people’s eyes it was. When the culprits were found they were suspended. Should they have been kicked out of school for being racist? Was it racist?
I have seen more teen movies than I can count. Most of them start by defining the cliques in school. I am not sure how it is in Jena, but it is possible that there are groups of friends comprised of only “black” kids and some of only “white” kids. I am not sure if Jena is a place where there are race tension is an every day thing, but from what I remember school age kids tend to have cliques no matter what you do. It is part of the identity forming process. Inside such groups stupid pranks and retaliations towards other groups happen, while the noose has a different connotation than for example toilet paper, I understand the suspension. Should have been this a felony and considered a hate crime? Should have this been the same as when when in the side of my high school someone spray painted “Die Ni**ers.”? Was this worse than that? (btw, the culprits at my school were never found.)
So, after the whole tree incident, some black student decided to protest under the tree and they were broken up by local authorities. Then there was the story of a black teenager being beat up at a party, and some others threatened with a shot gun. Supposedly the only charges that came out of that was that the black kids that were threatened with the gun wrestled it out of the hands of the other person and were charged with stealing the gun. I do not think any of this can be considered fact here because I have not seen it come from a “reputable” or even multiple sources.
As racial tension mounted, a kid said something to support the noose hanging and maybe even called the six kids in question “ni**ers.” A beat down ensued and six kids ended up facing the law.
In my personal experience I have seen many beat downs. Some between rival gangs in my high school. None of the people involved on those fights were ever charged with attempted murder, and I cannot recall any incidents in my school where someone was left unconscious. Partly because when that was happening I would just go down the opposite hall or stay indoors if it was in one of the courtyards.
Is attempted murder too high of a charge?
I personally don’t think so. The kid could have died as a direct result of the brutal beat down. Six on one is not a fair fight. The guy that is still in jail has a record. At this point, even with all the other information I have here I don’t see how this is a race related issue. Teenager get in fights all the time over a lot of reasons and even if this one was motivated by the hanging of nooses, I don’t believe that beating one kid until he is unconscious is going to change a community if it is really that racist. Again, why would anyone want to live amongst people like that?
I understand where people are coming from when they call the race card. It is hurtful when someone looks at you like you are from another planet because you do not look like them, it is even worse when they make assumptions about who you are based solely on the color of your skin. If I had a dollar for every time someone mentions cocaine when I say I am Colombian I would probably have enough money to be confused with a drug dealer. However, I believe that sticking up for 6 kids that beat up another for some stupid symbol is a waste of time.
Why isn’t Jesse Jackson here in KC talking to the superintendent of the KC public schools about why seven schools want to move to another district. This issue could be just a racial, they want to move to the “white” school district. Doesn’t that matter a little more than defending people that obviously committed a crime? I guess Jesse is too busy telling Obama that he is taking the “white side.”
You see, in this country unless you either have to support one side or you are labeled. If you support the law in this case, you are told that you are supporting the “white side.” I simply think that people need to stop playing the race card or what happened to the Duke students will get to be more common. If you are not aware of that case, using race tension for political gain a “white” guy accused some “white” kids of raping a “black” stripper. I hope that guy goes to jail.
People everywhere need to wake up. If someone breaks the law, make sure that they are put in jail. If people are racist, do not try to change them just let them be. The more you try to change people’s mind the more they are going to change yours. All you accomplish trying to change someone’s convictions is making yours thinner and thinner. Right now we get almost hourly updates on Britney Spears drug problem and that is what is news. Racism is going to end when we stop making it the first thing we think about when there is an issue. I am not saying it does not exist, I am just saying that the more you pull the race card, the less people are going to listen when race is really the issue.