At an anti-racism caucus a few weeks ago, we were talking about the Jena 6 and the subsequent flurry of noose sightings all over the country, and one participant wondered if there really has been an increase in noose hangings, or if the media is just putting more focus on the sightings these days.
I am pretty sure that there is some increase, given the whole copycat phenomenon, but noose hangings are nothing new. A friend sent me this thoroughly disturbing story that she had heard on NPR the previous weekend . . . you can read the short blurb, but to get the full effect, I would recommend that you listen to the entire podcast (it’s about 30 to 40 minutes long.) I wanted to vomit after listening–and you may feel that way too–but listen anyway.
Many of us have rallied around the battle cry of “Free the Jena Six!”, as well we should. But I didn’t hear anybody crying out to free Charles Hickman, and in the podcast he makes it painfully clear that, no matter how large a settlement he received, he really never will be free of this again. “It’s in my mind now”, he kept saying.
Oh, Mr. Hickman, I am so, so sorry. And it’s in my mind now, too, only I don’t want it out of my mind . . . I don’t want to forget the discomfort I felt as I heard your story, and I don’t want to ever stop wrestling with my own complicity in this.
I know that I don’t talk about this issue as much as I talk about all of the other things I like to rant and rave about, but this is something that really is so important to me . . . maybe someday I’ll blog my own personal story of what happens when you don’t have mental health coverage, but for today, please just go here and send an e-mail to your state representative.
News from Louisiana about how some of the local boys responded to this week’s protests.
But there aren’t race problems there; it’s just the big, bad media and those awful folks on the internet riling people up. At least that’s what Tio Tomás had to say about it . . . he seemed to have a lot of compassion for the poor little white boy who was attacked . . . I almost puked when he made a statement about how it can really hurt when someone is stepping on your face with their sneaker . . .
Right. Because black folks don’t know ANYTHING about THAT.
It made me sad to read one blogger’s commentary on this past Thursday’s Jena protests, wondering where all of the white folks were. I was unable to go because of work and financial constraints, but I try to tell myself I would have been there if I could. I am not sure I can call myself a white anti-racist if I’m not willing to stand with my brothers and sisters of color when they are being treated wrongly. Sure, I wore my t-shirt on Thursday, and printed a few pages of flyers, but because I was at a work conference, I was timid and reluctant to hand out even the few flyers I printed.
What is it going to take before I’m willing to give more than lip service to all of this? What will it take before I’m willing to stand with people of color to fight this insiduous evil?
anyway, here’s the update letter I received yesterday. (below the fold) If you want to receive Jena 6 updates, visit www.colorofchange.org for subscription information.
I realize that some people may roll their eyes when they hear that name, which I think is unfortunate, because I think he is a wise man who needs to be heard*. (He may seem “extreme” to some, but would you want the media twisting YOUR words?)
And he really caught my attention last week with something he said on TV. The clip below is part of what he was talking about, but the piece that really caught my attention unfortunately isn’t included on the YouTube clip shown here. He said something along the lines of “There is a Jena in every town across America.” (I don’t have his exact words, but you can read this, or listen to this, if you want to know more.)
This statement took my breath away. I know that my own city has Jena-esque incarceration rates that disproportionately affect people of color . . . and I know that something needs to be done, but I am not even sure where to start . . . but, to paraphrase another wise Reverend, we (still) can’t wait.
So where do we go from here?
(*it doesn’t hurt that he says “JeH-na” (rhymes with “henna”) rather than “JEAN-a” (rhymes with hyena)–even though I know that the latter is probably the correct pronunciation, I am just happy that he pronounces it like the New Yorker that he is . . . )