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A White Person's Meditation on the Jena 6 Students

By Kimberly Wilder  Posted by Ian Wilder (about the submitter)     Permalink
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What should the punishment be for two students who try to anonymously threaten a large group of other students and get caught doing so?

Change the 6 black kids beating up a white kid-where the claim is that the white kid teased about racial issues-to: What if 6 white kids beat up a black kid, so that the black student passes out, but goes to a school function that evening.

Do the 6 white kids in this alternate universe get taken to the criminal courts? (Actually, do the black victims and their families trust the government enough to bother accusing white kids in criminal court?)

Does the prosecutor in this alternate universe, charge the 6 white kids with attempted murder?

Also, why do we have the phrase “beat up” for school? Because, fights happen all the time in school, and schools deal with it. How come people are more likely to use words like attacked, assaulted, and attempted murder for black kids who hurt another student at school? But, when white students do the same thing, they are just beating people up?

Also, taking the white prism to another layer: Think about yourself, at 16-years-old. Maybe you actually did get in trouble. What if you beat someone up?. At 16 would you expect to be charged with murder?

Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Congressman John Conyers, Martin Luther King III and the NAACP all agree that the charges should be dropped. But, many progressives are doubting that that is a fair answer. Try to put the situation and these people through the white prism: What if white students were facing charges, and Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama, Prince William, and the ACLU called for the charges to be dropped?

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A great injustice happened to the black community of Jena. Nooses were hung in a tree, bringing up a painful history and frightening threats. The Jena school handled it very poorly, and more and more racial incidents happened. Young people from the black community were caught up in the conflict. The black community has gathered the information, gathered together, and determined what they think needs to be done to protect their young people. The black community has called for all the charges to be dropped against all the students.

If white people who are progressive, would like to sign onto this cause and help, that is wonderful. Those progressive white people should support what the black leaders and the families of these students have asked for. The progressive white people should do what we do for our own–provide moral support, court support and donations.

What is not needed, is for white people to start publicly expressing doubts about 6 young men already caught up in our white, racist criminal justice system. It is certain that there are already laws and people inside the system that will scrutinize the students and what they did. How would you feel if your words against the students wound up in a prosecutor’s closing arguments against a child?

Here is what white progressives need to do: Help or get out of the way.

What is needed now is a strong demand for all the charges to be dropped against all 6 young men. What the black leaders–from the students’ families, to preachers, to elected officials, to the NAACP–have determined is that the charges should be dropped entirely.
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So, dear white friends, I ask you as one white person to another, please do as you should, and join the chorus asking for all the charges to be dropped, or just be quiet. I beg you, do as your mother told you and, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

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