Jena 6 Worth a Click

Finally! The Jena 6 gets the kind of front page coverage it deserves.

Essence featured voices from yesterday’s protest, the New York Times said the protest echoed the Civil Rights Era. (I got the photo at the top of the page from this NY Times update). There have been major stories in MTV News and USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times.

Oh, and did any of you catch this week’s Drudge Report’s screaming headline where Jesse Jackson accused Barack Obama of “acting like he’s white” because of the Jena issue? It was also mentioned on Bossip.

This Washington Post blog gives a succinct rebuttal: “Today, the episode spilled onto the presidential campaign trail, as The State newspaper of Columbia, S.C. reported that Jesse Jackson had criticized Barack Obama for not speaking out more forcefully on the controversy. “If I were a candidate, I’d be all over Jena,” Jackson was quoted as saying. “Jena is a defining moment, just like Selma was a defining moment.” By not seizing on the issue more, Obama was “acting like he’s white,” the paper quoted Jackson as saying. Jackson, who endorsed Obama in March, today denied making that last comment, while The State stood by its reporting.

Obama’s campaign, meanwhile, noted that he had made a strong statement on the matter last week, when he called for the district attorney to drop the charges and said, “When nooses are being hung in high schools in the 21st century, it’s a tragedy. It shows that we still have a lot of work to do as a nation to heal our racial tensions.” “Outrage over an injustice like the Jena 6 isn’t a matter of black and white. It’s a matter of right and wrong. We should stand as one nation in opposition to this and any injustice. That’s why I’ve previously spoken out and demanded fairness in the Jena 6 case,” Obama said in a statement today. He also noted that his comments on the Jena 6 “were carefully thought out with input and support from one of my National Campaign Chairmen, U.S. Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.

Ooooh. Zing! I’d love to hear your views on this. Does The Rev. JJ have a point — should Obama have gone down to Jena? Or has Barack’s continual addressing of the issue been enough? And is it a low blow to bring up the fact that Jesse’s son is hitching a ride to Obamaville? Why can’t we all just get together and get along?
Some of my best blog buddies have been covering the story, including Racialicious, Concrete Loop, Crunk & Disorderly, and What About Our Daughters — which serves up a nice retort to Jesse Jackson’s “acting white” statement. Please visit What About Our Daughters for coverage of other very pressing stories within the black community, including the stomach-churning news out of Dunbar Village in West Palm Beach, and West Virginia. For the readers who have asked me to write about these stories, I will. I’m slowly working on something and it takes me a while to slog through the saddest stuff. And these stories just break my heart and make tears roll down my cheeks.

I want to add that the display of solidarity on this issue does my heart good. It’s wonderful to see so many of us coming together for positive change, commenting on an issue that matters more than Beyonce’s new hair color or Jay-Z’s new song or OJ’s latest debacle.

At first I felt hesitant to hope, but I feel the stirrings of a new phase, a new awakening of the Civil Rights movement. And this revolution won’t just be televised, it’ll be blogged and podcasted as well!

I’d posted this video before, but I’m gonna post it again. This song has been circling around my brain, and I like to end Fridays with a jam. Sing it, Dennis Brown!

Are you ready to stand up and fight the right revolution? Are you ready to fight it, just like soldiers? Many are called, few are chosen.” I love this song. And the beginning question is pertinent — do you know what it means to have a revolution? And what it takes to make a solution? For myself, the answer is no. But I’m willing and ready to learn.
PS: This issue is bringing all sorts of new commenters and readers to Afrobella. Hello, newbies! I understand that you’ve got a passionate opinion. I encourage you to read my Afrobella FAQ before launching into an expletive-laden rant, cause I delete that stuff. Speak your piece intelligently and eloquently, and let the discourse begin!

** Edited Saturday Sept 22 – I went to Jesse Jackson’s official website to find out his perspective on the Barack Obama comments he’s been accused of saying. I couldn’t find a direct refutal of the widely publicized statements, but I did find an encouraging official response, which reads as follows:

I reaffirm my commitment to vote for Sen. Barack Obama. He has remarkably transcended race. However the impact of Katrina and Jena makes America’s unresolved moral dilemma of race unavoidable. I think Jena is another defining moment for the issue of race and for the criminal justice system. This issue requires direct and bold leadership. I commend Sen. Obama for speaking out and demanding fairness on this critical issue. Any attempt to dilute my support for Sen. Obama will not succeed.”

So there you have it. If anyone has read an additional response by Jesse Jackson that you’d like to share regarding this, please leave a link to it in the comments.

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Comments

  1. You know, I was watching a documentary on the civil rights movement and was quite surprised at what I learned. A couple of years before Rosa Parks, there was a similar situation with a young african american girl. However, the NAACP refused to take her case because she was:
    “prone to outbursts, pregnant by a married man, had previous brushes with the law”

    I kind of liken the Jena situation to this one. Sorry, Jena is not a milestone in civil rights history. These kids broke the law by trying to take the law into their own hands. Both the whites and the blacks committed hate crimes thus I don’t see how this can be a defining moment in civil rights.

    I’m glad that Obama did not dirty his hands with this situation. I could understand if these Jena 6 kids were completely innocent and were set up and such but these kids committed a crime. Were the sentences harsh and unfair? Of course they were. Should they get of free and clear? absolutely not.

  2. If you’re black and you break the law there are still laws in place in regards to how much you can get punished. This is the US. This is not a third world country. The laws apply equally to everyone. They have certain punishment for certain crimes and even if you did something wrong you don’t deserve cruel and unusual punishment.

    That’s the law. That’s not my opinion. The law applies to all human beings and owing to another law black people are now entire human being, not just a portion of one.

    If you sell drugs the government doesn’t get to cut off your hand. If you cheat on your taxes the government doesn’t get to stone you.

    I know lots of black people like to say that if you’re black you have to be on your best behavior all of the time, because black people get punished harder…but you know what that’s not ok.

    That saying needs to be phased out of the black community, because that saying makes it seem as if it’s ok for people to treat you harsher just because you’re black or Latino or Asian or not born in America or you’re poor and that’s not ok.

    That is racism. That is classism. I’m not ok with that and neither should anyone else.

    We should stop raising our children with that silly “you better behave” mantra.

    Racism and classism is truly manifested in how you are treated when you f*** up. The fact is most people aren’t perfect, but not being perfect or even being a jerk is no excuse for your civil rights to be violated.

    I would comment on Jesse, but he’s irrelevant along with the other 1970 “wear a suit, always speak well, get an education” crew of old black minister men who make a living doing what exactly? Oh yeah making up pointless nonprofits and rewriting the same book over and over. I’m pretty done with the Jesus train moralistic type activism. That kind of thinking is what makes the above possible. We can’t “behave” our way out of racism. I know alot of older black people haven’t gotten that memo, but if you haven’t here it is.

    Jane

  3. No surprise that you agree, Kidillusion — you’re logging in with the same e mail address as Assclown. I asked you to please not curse on my site, and you’ve done just that. As soon as I am able to, I’ll be deleting “assclown’s” comment. If you’d like to rephrase it and state your opinion without the cussing, feel free.

  4. Farah Mendlesohn says:

    Thought you’d like to know that the story has been picked up by The Metro, a free paper in the UK. See here: http://www.metro.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=66992&in_page_id=34

    I’ve sent a letter correcting a couple of things, things some of the posters need to take on board, like the fact that the victim was up and walking around the next day. Assault yes. Attempted murder, no.

  5. I don’t think the issue is that there should be no repurcussions for their actions. The issue is the unequal responses to the behaviors of the white and black students. Given that the powers that be in Jena allowed the situation to escalate, they’re turned these young men into martyrs, and a lot of people probably feel like they’ve been punished enough, especially since the persons who hung the nooses received no disciplinary action whatsoever.

  6. “However, the NAACP refused to take her case because she was:
    “prone to outbursts, pregnant by a married man, had previous brushes with the law”

    I kind of liken the Jena situation to this one.”

    We as black people haven’t gotten pass the point where we have to be perfect and godlike in order to be defended? The point isn’t that only “good” people deserve to be defended, because when you say that you say there is something wrong with black people. You say racism only exists because of something that we’ve done wrong. It’s like saying the Holocaust would not have happened if only the Jews had been nicer.

    Nope, sorry not buying that.

    The reason you stated above is the exact reason that I want an alternative to the NAACP. Not that it needs to be dismantled. There are all kinds of people, but there needs to be a place where the “sinful” black people can be defended too.

    Jane

  7. right on bella. when i heard about this earlier in the summer i was shocked (but unsurprised) that it hadn’t received wide news coverage. although, i now believe in the independent press more than ever. however, i’m frightened at how fragile freedom is in America. what did the kids that sat under the tree think would happen? certainly not that it would lead to incarceration for their peers? who were the kids that asked permission to sit under the tree, what was their motivation and what is there relationship to the boys who are now on trial? maybe i missed that? well…we fight the best fight, and be fly while doing it.

  8. What’s happened is that the “white” media has decided to tell only the “white” side of the story. Research the facts of this case. The white school administrators and district attorney created a racist hostile climate for these young people. It’s about equal justice for all. Whites, especially in Jena, have committed hate crimes against black and are not receiving punishment for their actions.

    No, I’m not for violence. Yes, I do think the parents of a few of these black children need to talk to them about ways to handle difficult situations besides violence. But so do the white families. This District Attorney came to this school and told the black boys that he could end their lives with just a pen stroke. Why would someone say that? This was BEFORE the alleged beating.

    PS Jessie Jackson did not say that. I’m so tired of the white media lying.

  9. I am so sick and tired of our civil rights elders being dismissed as being irrelevant. They put their LIVES ON THE LINE in a time that was much more dangerous than now because there were no civil rights laws to protect them or the others that marched and protested. It was much easier to rally the movement behind Mrs. Parks because she was a person with a clean background. Like it or not, it was a very different time and decisions were made accordingly. But people who never marched, sat-in picketed or rallied, want to dismiss them like so much garbage.

    So what are we looking at now? Instead of being happy about the show of solidarity in Jena, we’re talking about who is relevant, who shoulda been there, who said this or that and white people are loving it because the pettiness is holding us back…just what they want. The media jumps all over it. Oh, and anyone who really believes that justice is meeted out equally is dilusional.

  10. berrybrowne says:

    i’m going to give jesse the benefit of the doubt here and say that even he wouldn’t say something so stupid and self-serving! but, if it’s true, the fact that he would have been all over that as a candidate is exactly the reason that obama is our first viable candidate! i think that obama is a politician, and i think he’s the only one (besides kucinich, who is not viable at all) who really represents change. plus, he actually seems to want to do some good, not just win!! i’m so disappointed by the way that people of color are not banding together to support obama and acting like because hillary was married to bill that means something…

    but i digress, back to the jena 6. the story is horrible, but i’m encouraged because i believe that the attention being finally paid to this issue will be what it takes to avoid these kids’ lives being ruined as so many black kids’ lives are ruined through unfair “justice.” i hope that our scrutiny of the criminal justice system doesn’t end when the jena 6 furor dies down. there are WAY too many black and brown people imprisoned for us to ignore it anymore.

  11. To those who don’t think that there were instances of hate crimes, look at the story that cnn just posted today about 2 white kids from the neighboring parish of Alexandria, who drove circles around protesters waiting for bus with nooses hanging from the back of the truck. The residents of Jena can say what they want about how untrue the image of them in the media is. But a noose is a noose and it scares me to think that people wouldn’t see that as a problem (both the ones in the trees and the one on the pick up truck).
    http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/09/21/car.nooses/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

  12. KKK 4 Life, Assclown, whatever you want to call yourself – clearly you’ve got this comment cut and pasted somewhere and you’re ready to repost it at any time. I’ll be deleting that one as well. Why? Cause you still haven’t come at me with any more intelligence than you did the first time around. I asked politely the first time — don’t curse on my site. I don’t do it, none of my other commenters do it, I’ve made it my policy. I’m trying to keep things intelligent and respectful here. Your feedback isn’t adding to that.

  13. We marched for the Jena 6 here at our university, and it was AMAZING.
    I really didn’t like Jesse Jackson’s comments at all. On the one hand, I think maybe Obama should have said a little more, but on the other hand, I don’t think he should have been there. 1, this was a grassroots campaign. It passed from word of mouth to blogs to the world, adding a major person like Obama would have taken away from that. 2, Obama is a rock star. Seriously. I have been to at least 2 Obama events, he takes away from the issue. He doesn’t mean to, but the hype surrounding him is insane at times. The focus needed to be on those boys. 3, I think if he had went, people would have accused him for capitalizing on the situation for his own gain. I thiink he made the best choice he could.

    It was so wonderful to see all of those people in Jena and here in southern illinois rallying around a cause. So often people feel that youth are apathetic, but we can do so much if we want to. It was so beautiful!!

  14. For the love of God, Jessie Jackson did not make that comment about Obama trying to act white. The WHITE media is lying! Jessie has said up and down he did not make that comment and challenged them to prove it. Especially since he supposedly made this during a speech in front of trillions of people. Why can’t the reporter find 10 people to verify that quote? Because they can’t. The quote was a lie and it was made up. With everything on youtube, you know somebody would have posted something. Why can’t the reporter put Jessie on blast and post the video of the speech. Because the reporter is lying. All of this is to confuse people about the real meaning and issue. It’s Jenna 6 not Jessie Jackson v. Obama.The white media is manipulating black people because they want to divide and conquer. Black folks are soo gullable that this isn’t very difficult. Jesus take the wheel and do donuts.

  15. Monica has a very good point.

  16. Monica you’re very right. I can’t find a quote. I just read about it on the African-American blogs and assumed that someone else had checked…oh man I just got played by the media….Anyways I’m still very annoyed at the lack of support of Obama by the elder black men of the community, they seem very luke warm in regards to him even the ones that do support him.

    I don’t know who started that, he said he should be more supportive and vocal in regards to Jena 6, but nothing about acting white. I can’t find a quote and I’m good at that kind of thing.

    Jane

  17. This will sound silly, I’m sure, but Oliver Willis points out that there’s really nothing more organized than the civil rights movement, and I think he’s right.

    That’s not the silly part. The silly part is this: I remember growing up the photographs in Life magazine, and all the demonstrators were dressed up to be arrested or beaten like they were going to church. Incredibly effective — as was Jena.

    We white folks need to ditch the giant puppets and the rainbow this and that and dress for the occasion.

  18. @edesse

    You need to review the facts of this case and familiarize yourself with the definition of hate crimes before you comment.

  19. blackviolet says:

    If Jesse Jackson made those comments, he should be ashamed of himself. His badmouthing of Obama only takes away from Jena 6. He should leave Obama alone and manage his own affairs. I’m so tired of the “acting like a white person” name calling. What does that have to do with anything? Obama said his peace and Jesse said his, let it be and focus on the real news, Jesse… Jena 6!

  20. Daphne:

    I know the definition of a hate crime, thanks for trying to make me think that I do not.

    Perhaps you should try not to assume the contents of my gray matter before you make a reply post.

  21. I believe the statement is a lie, but just in case I’ve decided to go to the other source and have written Mr. Roddie Burris who wrote the article for The State that contained the quote. I asked him to “either send me the complete interview with Mr. Jackson, publish the entire unedited interview or tell me where I could obtain it” I am currently awaiting his answer and will let you know if I find out anything.

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  1. [...] While the lovely Afrobella mentions the Jena Six story has made the front page, in my neck of the woods it was on page 8. Of the Sunday paper. [...]

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