The battle against racism and hyperbole continues as local, national, and international news agencies descend upon Jena, Louisiana.
The carpetbaggers have finally discovered Jena. In light of the recent racial problems providing headlines for a controversy-hungry media, visitors with agendas are attempting to paint the city as the most racist, depraved, and ignorant place in America. Their hope is to influence the case involving “The Jena Six,” the six young black boys arrested for attempted second degree murder for allegedly beating a young white boy at Jena High School. A series of what appear to be racially connected events are being used to exert pressure on the LaSalle Parish District Attorney to drop the charges. These “outsiders” are combing the city in search of proof that Jena is such a morally and economically depressed area that the charges must be inherently motivated by prejudice. Although racism and bigotry exist in Jena, just as it does in every city, large or small, in America and beyond, the facts simply do not support such innuendo.
For the period 1999 to 2001, the average poverty rate in Louisiana was 17.5%, which placed it 50th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, ranked lowest to highest. The Mississippi Delta is one of the most impoverished areas in the United States. Jena is actually a bright light in the midst of that economic darkness. According to data released by the US Census Bureau, in 2000, the median household income was $30,219. LaSalle Parish as a whole was $30,470, which ranks it among the highest in Central Louisiana, ahead of Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, Natchitoches, and Winn Parishes. Only Grant and Rapides Parishes scored higher in the region. The unemployment rate has gone from approximately 5% to 3% in the last few years as businesses, including a new Super Wal-Mart, have boosted the area economy. “Help Wanted” signs hang in many windows of area businesses. According to a source at the local Wal-Mart, there are sixty more jobs waiting for anyone who can pass a drug test.
Educationally, Jena High School ranked near the top hundred, at 102, in performance for all high schools in the state in 2002. These rankings are based on the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program for the 21st Century (LEAP 21) and the Graduation Exit Examination for the 21st Century (GEE 21) provided by Louisiana Department of Education. The scores have improved each year since. On group performance scores in the 2005-06 school year, LaSalle Parish scored 95.6, almost six points above the state average of 89.9.
Despite the progress, the cruel sisters of bigotry and prejudice remain as a legacy in the South. Jena has not escaped its clutches; yet the future here is brighter than ever before. Government mandated programs and public education have helped awaken our citizens to social injustices, but we can’t go any further without dealing with the hearts and souls of our people. Political and educational leadership must be accompanied with spiritual leadership if Jena is going to overcome the stealth racism that plagues our country. The ministers in our community must shake the pews of our churches with the thunderous Voice of Heaven: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!
If the charges against “The Jena Six” are unjust they should be dropped. If the charges are supported by the facts of the case the defendants should suffer the consequences of their actions. However, any attempt by the carpetbaggers from news agencies around the world to re-create “Mississippi Burning” here in Jena, Louisiana, is unfounded and harmful to the process of healing our community has undertaken.
Web Site: Alabaster Publishing Company
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|Reviewed by Julie Donner Andersen
|Excellent article, Eddie. If we as a nation are willing to excuse these hate crimes in light of the racist leanings of the town (by the way, racism woks both ways), then what about cyberbullies? Shall we excuse any kid who commits violence against another kid who has bullied them online just because cyberbullying "happens"? Are we that apathetic in this country yet? Time to put a stop to this and let justice be served.
|Reviewed by Sheila Evans (Reader)
|Being a native Texan, a Southerner if you will, I am totally aghast and appalled at the situation in Jena LA.
I watched the Dr. Phil show about this situation and learned more there than I had on the news. It absolutely sickened me. Come on people, we live in the 21st Century! When is this kind of racism going to stop?
Please don't misunderstand, I am totally against the beating of the "white boy". I put that in quotes because I was fortunate enough to have parents who taught my sister, brother and myself to be completely colorblind. I don't care whether someone is black, white, purple or green. As long as they obey the rules of God and our country, it doesn't matter what color their skin might be.
I absolutely agree with the people who have posted comments that the children, and I DO consider them to be children, who hung the nooses on that tree basically got away with it...all they received is a slap on the wrist. I have 3 grown sons and if they had EVER done something like that, expulsion from school would have been the LEAST of their worries compared to what I would have done.
Again, I do not condone the beating of the white boy, I apologize for not remembering his name. However, let us keep in mind that no matter how badly those pictures of him looked, he only stayed in the hospital for 2 hours. Had he been seriously injured, he would have been in the ICU.
All I can say is that racism seems to be alive and well in Jena LA. I am ashamed to admit that it continues to be alive and well in Jasper TX. You may remember the black man from Jasper TX who was attached via a chain to the back of a pick up truck occupied by 3 white men. These men proceeded to drag this man behind their truck down a gravel road to his death when he hit a street sign and was decapitated. This was approximately ten years ago. Those 3 men are now on Death Row in Huntsville TX. The only problem with that is that they will have a needle stuck in their arm and basically just "go to sleep". What kind of death is that compared to decapitation? Think about it...
|Reviewed by vic dellucci
|The three were suspended for hanging the three pieces of rope from the tree. Is this offense honestly being taken as seriously as 6 teenagers beating another. The six continued to beat and kick him after he was unconscience and this boy wasn't even one of the three who hung the pieces of rope.|
|Reviewed by Jason Dangerfield (Reader)
|Interesting how there was no mention in the article on the nooses hanging from the tree. Or how the blacks are being harrassed in Jena.
Although I applaud their high performance rates, that does not give anyone the right to degrade others of color. And when does a school yard fight constitute a second-degree murder charge. People Wake Up!!
|Reviewed by Mary Coe
|Very interesting article.|
|Reviewed by Regis Auffray
|An "educational" article for certain; for me anyway, Eddie. Thank you. Love and peace to you,