Friday, September 21, 2007

"Jena is America"

I doubt this is a newsflash for most of you, but racial stigma and inequality is alive and well in the United States of America. Recent events in Jena, Louisiana are proof of this fact. I recommend this commentary by Harvard Ph.D. candidate Lydia Bean as a simple, straightforward starting point for thinking Christianly about racial inequality in our country and the place of the church in the midst of it all.


Steve said...

Ms. Bean certainly has an editor inside her wailing to get out. The fight she glides over so blithely involved young men kicking a fallen opponent whom had been knocked unconscious, with one or more kicks allegedly being to the boy's head. That cannot be seen as continuation of the fight but appears, under Louisiana statute, to come under the category of attempted murder. This escalating treatment reminds me of how little you must do above speeding to qualify for reckless driving.

I can only assume the noose-makers and others will be found and prosecuted, and I hadn't heard of the shotgun incident before.

I certainly hope this town's, and the county and state police in the area are racially integrated and include ome female officers. If not, I am sure we will be hearing from them, as every Columbia Journalism School graduate and wannabe worth a wireless connection dreams of breaking the next race explosion or Watergate.

Emily Hunter McGowin said...


I can't speak for Bean, but I don't take the fight lightly at all. At the very least, these boys should be tried for battery. Unfair treatment does not erase the wrong in what they have done.

What concerns me is the disparity between their treatment and that of the white students involved in previous incidents and provocations. Although there may not be legal avenues to pursue these prior offenses any longer, they may illustrate problems of racial inequality in the D.A.'s office.

Despite some (not yours) attempts to "down-play" it, hanging nooses from a tree is not a harmless threat. And, the truth is, the noose-makers have not been prosecuted and probably never will. I believe they received a few days suspension from school.

Sadly, though, I do not think this case is not something particularly unique. The attention it is getting is disproportionate, but indicative of the simmering racial disparities beneath the surface of American life.

Thanks for your comments, Steve.

Grace and peace,


Stushie said...

The boy who was savagely beaten up had nothing to do with the nooses. he was chosen because he was white. That's a hate crime.

The people in Jena are being manipulated by those who make money off the backs of dissent.

Perhaps Emily, you should also read this editorial

Lee said...

The issue isn't the guilt or innocence of the six boys. There's no doubt they committed a crime in the beating. The issue is whether, in their prosecution, they are being treated as equitably as whites in the community who have done the same thing, as well as those who hung the nooses. The obvious answer is that they aren't. And would this incident have occurred if the attitude of the white officials in the community had taken a more serious attitude about the noose incident?

In terms of actual distance, time, and ways of thinking, Jena isn't all that far from Jasper, Texas.