Several regular readers asked that I post about the Jena Six.
I have avoided doing so partly because other bloggers have done a remarkable job covering the case (Elle, PhD...Jack & Jill Politics…African American Political Pundit, just to name a few) but also because the case of the Jena Six takes me back to a place I don't like to return to.
I’m 34 years old and I still remember my second grade teacher looking me right in the eye while a classmate beat the shit out of me on the playground for being black. I remember my teacher's vivid blue eyes…so cold and yet amused…and knowing that my humiliation pleased her.
I remember the tolerance for bullying, violence, intimidation and racism almost more than I remember the kids who menaced me daily. My days were filled with hair pulling, stomach hitting, pinching, kicking, spitting, tripping, verbal abuse and general taunting.
Defend thyself and you’ll get in big trouble for "causing trouble"…so I learned how to take a beating by age six.
I stopped crying as a result of the name calling…stopped eating lunch because it just wasn’t worth it…and stopped sleeping because my mind wouldn’t rest for thoughts of drama past and drama sure to come.
By the time I reached high school I had learned to defend myself with words which earned me death threat during my sophomore year.
And I remember everyone asking me how that note got in my locker in a tone that begged me to “play ball’ and pretend it wasn’t serious. It was just kids acting out…just a youthful mistake…no big deal, right?
Of course I knew who did it and of course nothing was done.
And I’m 34 years old and I still remember and wish and wonder.
Was it just that sad moment in time?
Has everything changed now and for the better?
Then a black student sat under a tree in the schoolyard in Jena Louisiana where only white students historically sat…and the next day three nooses were hanging from the tree.
There was tension…the tolerance of intolerance…a fight or fights…then a white student with a concussion and bruises…and six black Jena High School students were arrested, charged with attempted murder and conspiracy.
They face up to 100 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
And I'm back in that place I don't like to return to...a place I know still exists for too many people and not just in the south.
These young people do not deserve nor will society benefit from Jim Crow justice.
The Jena Six deserve justice.
We all do.