Sept. 20, Jena, LA: The NAACP has organized a march in Jena, LA, to raise awareness and support for the Jena 6. Anybody who reads this blog now knows, and probably for a long while has known, about the trial of six young people for the aggravated assault of a white teen. Mychal Bell, who was charged as an adult, just had his charges changed to those for a minor, but all six remain in custody. This post is not to rehash all the detail, but to bring up another point: how long does it take for the big names in the media to decide that Jena is a story, and why did it take them so long...until Al Sharpton decided to head on down.
I just went onto yahoo answers, and saw the question: "why are the Jena 6 not being tried for hate crimes?" I had to answer, and if you want to see my complete response, check it out on the site. Pretty much, I wrote that Larry, the questioner, should really investigate the story, and understand that when a situation starts because off nooses hung on a tree that only white students can sit under, there is a hate crime, all right. It is the allusion to a practice continued until all-too-recently in places like Louisiana, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and the rest of the "New South."
Some of the answerers seemed annoyed that the news was bringing up that dirty word again: racism. As if not saying it makes it go away, and that a campaign to get unlawfully and unjustly imprisoned people out of jail is just an unnecessary headache. I wrote a postcard to Mychal Bell a couple weeks ago, from my city in Brazil, encouraging him to keep up hope, and realize that there are thousands upon thousands in the US who still believe in justice and change.
New Orleans was a hate crime. Public education in cities like New York is a hate crime. The US prison system is a hate crime. Drug laws are hate crimes. When someone calls you nigger and you are black, and you hit back, that is not a hate crime.