|I by no means think that most White Americans are racists. In fact, I would guess that the majority of White folks are embarassed by the kind of throw-back, red-neck, bigotry that is on display in LaSalle Parish, Louisiana. I say this, despite the fact that I truly believe that most Whites, while not actively racist, harbor an inherent sense of privilege, which is inculcated in them almost from toddler-hood; a notion that they have ownership and dominion over this country, its resources and benefits, and that they have an inherent right to judge and exert authority over other nations (like Iraq for instance), other people, other ethnic groups, and other value systems. On that, I don't hate the players, but I definitely hate the game...
That said, there are some Whites who are so unreconstructed and backward on the issue of race, that I puzzle at how they manage to get up in the morning, knowing that they live in a world where every facet of life, every job category, every major sport (save hockey and NASCAR, and even that is changing...) every form of entertainment, and damned near every other aspect of life is infused with people of color. How do these throwbacks manage to turn on a TV set without recoiling in abject horror?
So now, we have a few troglodites who have come out of the woodwork, not to merely hang nooses, with the implied threat of lynching, but to actually call for the lynching of the Jena 6, and to go a step further: a neo-Nazi outfit has published the addresses of the Jena 6 families on its web-ste (the site has been down this morning, so I'm assuming the ISP took action, due to the criminal probe now under way...) The organization behind the posting is the National Socialist Movement -- a Hitlerian operation fronted by a guy, aptly called Bill White -- has gone underground since CNN broke the story of the postings, and White himself may face criminal charges, if the federal and state authorities can manage to get their acts together on such a clear hate crime. One hopes that the FBI's level of urgency on this matter will be an improvement upon the flat-footed, slack-jawed reactions to the original nooses hung under the "Jena tree" by the district attorney, Reed Walters, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana Donald "See no hate crime" Washington, and by the babbling, useless governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Babineau Blanco.
Rev. Al Sharpton and others have called for federal marshals to be sent to LaSalle Parish to protect the Jena 6 families. At the least, the state should provide for, and pay for, round the clock protection (Blanco has pledged to have state authorities "investigate" -- not good enough, dear, but then again, that phrase seems increasingly to apply to everything you do...) These families are living in a parish where the district attorney goes to high schools to threaten Black students, where he over-prosecutes them while letting whites who point shotguns at, break bottles over the heads of and hang nooses with the implied threat to lynch black teenagers go unpunished, and where a judge holds a 17-year-old boy in jail, even after the case against him has been thrown out of court. This is not an American city or county in 2007 -- it is a pre civil rights movement-era Dixie, where there apparently is no justice, and no protection, for Black citizens.
So will the federal government step in ? We shall see. Meanwhile, it seems that the Black community -- and people of good will in the White community -- can and should coalesce around a simple set of demands, and should begin considering a series of consequences if those demands are not met:
First, the judge in the case of Mychal Bell should recuse himself, or be removed from the case.
Second, the district attorney, Mr. Walters, should be investigated by the Louisiana Bar for his comments made in that high school gynmasium, that he can "end your lives with the stroke of a pen," before any charges were filed against the Jena 6, and for his refusal to prosecute the White student who pulled a shotgun on Jena 6 member Robert Bailey and two friends (instead, Bailey, who wrestled the gun away and took it home, was charged with theft of a firearm, second degree robbery and disturbing the peace,) not to mention failure to prosecute the students who hung those nooses, and the person who broke a bottle over Bailey's head at a party in December 2006.
Third, Governor Blanco should immediately convene her pardon board to request consideration of an order vacating the charges against all six Jena defendants.
Fourth, state police and/or federal marshalls should be sent to Jena to protect the Black families who have now been threatened by an organized, racist group, as well as by individual White citizens in Jena and in Alexandria, Louisiana.
Fifth, the remaining Jena 6 cases, if not vacated, should and must be moved out of LaSalle Parish.
If no action is taken along these lines, I would venture to say that it's time for Americans of good will -- of all races --to begin an economic and tourism boycott of the state of Louisiana, which has shown no interest in protecting its Black citizens -- either from natural disaster, in the case of Hurricane Katrina, or from racist attacks by organized groups and individuals harboring clear race-based malice.
In addition to that, if Kathleen Blanco runs for reelection as governor, she does not merit, and should not receive, a single Black vote, or for that matter, a single vote by anyone who cares about competent government that serves all citizens equally.
Can I get a witness?
By the way, major big-ups to the Afrosphere, which pushed and continues to push, this important story. Key links:
Afrosphere Bloggers Association
Technorati Tag: jena 6
Labels: civil rights, Jena 6, race