Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Now, let's talk about what's annoying me about the mainstream reaction to Jena, LA

By the Prometheus 6 AfroSpear blog,
via the Afrosphere Associated Press (AAP.)

The official narrative on Jena has been decided. There were nooses hung, then six months later a white kid got jumped.

Find me an article less than a week old that says anything different. And I'd rather think there was a meeting where this was decided than think so many white folks coincidentally decided to ignore the exact same information.

This ignorance is promoted by giving Reed Walters a platform in the New York Times. By overlaying his explanation of things on the most detailed description of events I can find, we see strong evidence of the importance of equal protection under the law.

Many in Jena's black community wanted the three white students expelled. But when the white superintendent and other school administrators investigated, they decided the nooses were a prank. Instead of expulsion or arrest, the three received in-school suspension.

This is the sin at the root of all the commotion. Do not lose track of this. Consider Walters' own opinion

If those who committed that act considered it a prank, their sense of humor is seriously distorted. It was mean-spirited and deserves the condemnation of all decent people.

This means the superintendent and other school administrators, who thought it was a prank, are mean-spirited, deserve condemnation...and are still running the school.

I would like to take this opportunity to make clear that hangman's nooses and burning crosses are to Black people as swastikas are to Jews. You know damn well you'd find charges to press against people who hung swastikas where Jewish people congregated.

Assuming you let them in your neighborhood, of course.

But things didn't calm down. Some whites felt triumphant; some blacks were resentful. Fights began to break out at the high school. But that year, the football team was having an unusually good season and the black athletes were a major reason why. So while there were fights throughout the fall, nobody wanted to take any action that would hurt the team.

It is not a coincidence that everyone who felt triumphant was white, nor that everyone who felt resentful was Black. Whether conscious intimidation or a lengthy Freudian slip, it was what Walters projected.

Am I ignoring the poor victim, Justin Barker, in all this?

Yes, just as WE are ignoring Robert Bailey.

The next night, 16-year-old Robert Bailey and a few black friends tried to enter a party attended mostly by whites. When Bailey got inside, he was attacked and beaten.

No one charged for that assault.

The next day, tensions escalated at a local convenience store. Bailey exchanged words with a white student who had been at the party. The white boy ran back to his truck and pulled out a pistol grip shotgun. Bailey ran after him and wrestled him for the gun.

After some scuffling, Bailey and his friends took the gun away and brought it home. Bailey was eventually charged with theft of a firearm, second-degree robbery and disturbing the peace. The white student who pulled the weapon was not charged at all.

Though Bailey was charged for daring defend himself. We're even going to ignore that Justin Barker admitted in public that he was an accessory after the fact, at minimum, to that assault.

The following Monday, Dec.4, a white student named Justin Barker was loudly bragging to friends in the school hallway that Robert Bailey had been whipped by a white man on Friday night.

Barker should be questioned as to the identity of those who assaulted Mr. Bailey, and charged with obstruction of justice if he refuses to identify them...and if he was just lying he should be charged with inciting a race riot.

But instead, a sneaker was declared a deadly weapon in order to justify trying these six young men as adults. Focusing on Mychel Bell is a diversion because others of them were treated that way. Bell just happened to be unable to raise the bond, and the first to go to trail.

It is within the power of Mr. Walters to identify and punish everyone involved, including the white folks. If he does not, he is using his prosecutorial discretion to ignore the crimes of the white kids that were involved. The purest example of personal racism bleeding over into institutional racism that can be found.


Pat McCollough said...

I am Pat McCollough, a retired United States Marine Sergeant Major, also known around campus as, "Coach Pat." I returned to the education industry at my alma mater, Hawthorne Middle/High School; this was a dream come true. My dream turned into a nightmare when I became the victim of a hate crime.

On 1 Jun 2007, the last day of school, I fell prey to racial discrimination and a victim of hate. This happened on campus during the school day. My classroom was the only one spray painted with hate graffiti, K.K.K. and a Swastika symbol. My vehicle was also spray painted with similar graffiti.

One student has been identified as the suspect. It has never been explained or investigated why this student was out of class and allowed to just roam around campus without a pass or any supervision. This was final exam day.

The administration was very passive about the entire situation. They gave the impression that even though the incident was identified by the local police as a "criminal act" or maybe "just a prank," they had not taken into consideration how the entire event must have traumatized me as a human being. They stated that they must have misread me because I was a pillar of strength and so well composed though out the entire situation. Well, Isn't that how professionals are suppose to respond.
If this type of racial behavior continues and is condoned with little or no consequences for the real criminals, someone is going to get seriously hurt...remember Jena 6? I wonder if those three nooses hanging on the tree traumatized any of the students or were they provided with any type of professional psychological counseling after having been subjected to such hate. I requested professional psychological counseling and was denied at two different levels. I had to eventually seek professional counseling through other resources outside of the school district. The local community also turned a deaf hear to my cry.
It is a known fact there is a current issue with safety and security within the Alachua County School District, Gainesville, Florida. From my research, there are many other schools throughout the Nation facing similar incidents.
I did not return to teaching this year.

Still Hurting,Pat McCollough

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

Pat, thank you for this letter and for getting in touch with the AfroSpear. I truly feel your hurt that you were doing your job, giving to your students, when you were victimized, and the people who are supposed to be your professional colleagues and supervisors have denied you the support that would and should have been expected in a situation like this.

In effect you were victimized once by the vandal and a second time by a community that turned a blind eye to this hate crime.

You don't mention whether the student whom you believe was responsible was prosecuted, but clearly you have photographs of the damage that was done.

I encourage you to visit other AfroSpear blogs and post the same message that you have posted here. I am sure that you will find quite a lot of support and we can think together as the AfroSpear develops a national strategy to combat hate crimes.