I have spent some time this afternoon trying to understand why I haven't engaged more with the Jena 6 issue. While I have been aware of the situation for several months now, I haven't really spent a lot of energy on it or gotten involved at all. Part of me thinks that's wrong and I'm sorry.
But I just saw something on Fox News (yeah, can you believe that one!!!) that helped me understand why. In a roundtable discussion about several issues related to race that have happened this week, one of the commentators talked about a case where a white boy had been beaten up by a group of black boys, but had gotten no media attention. This is the problem with advocacy by anectdote. If we are going to rely on one case to make our point - the other side is more than capable of coming up with a case in counterpoint. But we all know what a lie that turns out to be, don't we?
I really feel for these particular 6 young men who are being handed a complete dose of injustice based on our deep seeded racism in this country. And I do think we need to organize to fight for justice for them. But lets all remember that for every one of these boys, there are thousands of others who are being treated just as unfairly in our so-called justice system.
As an example, I just saw figures this week for the county I live in. African Americans make up 14% of the population of children in this county. And yet, they make up 45% of those in the juvenile justice system. Numbers like that make my blood boil. There is no simplistic answer to this - the causes are complex threads of historical racism coupled with our own brand of it in the present. As a result of our inattention to this, we are loosing hundreds if not thousands of lives daily to a system that eats them up and destroys their souls.
So I can only hope that the Jena 6 case starts to open up that whole can of worms and goes beyond just a fight for these boys to encompass ALL of our children who are suffering because of this illness in our culture. That's why I liked Nezua's graphic that I posted here and the title of his diary (which I am stealing shamelessly)...We All Live In Jena.