Tuesday, October 2, 2007

You Got a Right to Say It

. . . and I got a right to be disgusted by it:
Let's get this out of the way: what happened to the Jena 6 was heinous, non-blacks should be reexamining their hearts, and heads should be rolling Nifong-style. I'm as happy as the next Negro to stick it to the man (I'm on record as saying I'd have thrown a rock, just one and into a bush—more of a tossing if you will—after the Rodney King verdict had I been an Angeleno), but this wasn't exactly Selma and these brothers weren't exactly the Scottsboro Boys. Folks should go to jail for stomping a random (and lone) person into the ER, white or not, nooses or not. Not for attempted murder, of course not, but aggravated battery sounds about right, especially when you factor in that the stompee was not, as far as we know, one of the noose hangers. And when we have it on good authority that Jena High also boasts "black bleachers" where honkies fear not tread. Racism, and its effects on the ground, is rarely simple.
No one is saying it is simple. But people are saying, "Enough is enough." That, at least, is a simple message. And what this writer fails to address is the context.

The most objectionable portion of this piece, however, is the self-righteous sputtering:
I made no effort to get to Jena. Instead, I spent that time reading worthy analyses of the proveable, addressable, effects of racism in the criminal justice system. These bespectacled economists and sociologists are downright radical. They already knew that racism filled our prisons; now they're proving how it affects America at large. They're doing more good on Capitol Hill making these "tough on crime" politicians change gears than all the buses in Jena.
To each is given his calling. To each is given his gifts. Some are called to lift their voices in protest at injustice; others are called to research. Others are called simply to labor, or to do what is in front of them at any given time. We none of us got to pick, but when we hear the voice, we go and do its bidding, or we suffer the fate of Jonah.

Who among us has the wisdom to say which gift is most valuable? Not me, not you, and certainly not Debra Dickerson.

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