Saturday, September 22, 2007

Silently overlooking the Jena Six

It continues to amaze me how little coverage The Jena Six have received. Updates on proceedings are passively included in news publications. Television programs do little more to give the matter the attention it deserves. And just this past Tuesday, a group of students at USC decided to protest the legal proceedings in Jena, Louisiana: they did so silently.

There is no need to rehash the details of the situation. Even the untrained eye can see that the entire scenario is laced with double-standards and is spewing racism left and right. Americans removed from the situation, seem to be subtly shaking their heads and praying that the matter gets properly sorted out. Others are oblivious to the situation. Others still, may very well feel that the African American students involved in the fiasco are getting what they deserve!

The media has grossly mishandled this matter. Media outlets have failed to generate any widespread sense of urgency. Not only are the authorities in Louisiana allowing the concepts of equality and justice to be slapped in the face. Instead, they are being assisted by those powerful players in American society that so forcefully assert their belief systems and work to shape our everyday realities.

The stir amongst African Americans isn’t even overwhelming. The omnipresent Rev. Jesse Jackson attempted to throw his two cents in by joining the list of individuals questioning the authenticity of Barack Obama’s blackness. Of course, no self-respecting Black man would allow such a travesty to go overlooked. Obama should be using every opportunity he has to champion the cause of The Jena Six! He should be a Black man first, a politician second (this paragraph is laced with sarcasm).

Yet, not even the polarizing comments made by Mr. Jackson will be enough to right the mishandling of the Jena situation. The Jena Six serves as a reminder to the divisiveness of race in America. The affair is likely being so heavily overlooked due to most American’s unwillingness to accept the fact that race is still a major issue in America.

Not just class. Race still divides. Class matters. But race, arguably, matters more.

The southern region of our nation still serves as a testament to a dark past. Racism exists everywhere. But no other American region continues to showcase the stark Black-White divide that festers in the American South. As a nation, we have undeniably progressed. But that cannot be taken to mean that all racist ideology has been eradicated from the general public and/or the bodies that govern our cities, states and country.

And while I hate to do this, this entire affair begs the question: would the situation be the same if the roles were reversed? If The Jena Six were white and going up against an oppressive predominately-Black system, would the legal proceedings be receiving daily front page coverage?

I think the answer is yes. You decide…

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