Friday, August 3, 2007

No Negroes or Dogs Allowed

By Jason Perkins, Summer Intern at the Kirwan Institute

“We don’t have many problems with our blacks.” This quote is taken from a white resident of Jena, Louisiana following the widespread media coverage of the Jena Six. This quote may seem innocuous to some but for others, me included, it stirs up deep feelings of indignation. This quote in part implies white ownership or control of blacks while simultaneously making clear that large segments of white America view any attempt African Americans make to resist white hegemony as a problem. In other words, even in the twentieth-first century, there is a pervasive attitude within a significant portion of the white community that whites are entitled to control every facet of African American life. Perhaps most shameful is that this quote is reminiscent of earlier historical atrocities including chattel slavery and Jim Crow segregation.

Over the past year significant media attention has swept through the small, rural, and still mostly segregated central Louisiana city of Jena. The spotlight stems from a fight which occurred on Monday, December 4, 2006 at Jena High School between a group of African American males and a white male schoolmate who allegedly hurled racial taunts including chants of “nigger” at the youths. Following the brawl, the white student believed to have made the racial remarks was taken to a local hospital treated, released, and reportedly attended a party that same night. Conversely, the Jena Police Department arrested and charged the six young black men who range in age from fifteen to eighteen with second degree attempted murder. Shortly thereafter, the LaSalle Parish School Board expelled them. As we speak, the youths await trial with the above listed charge carrying up to twenty years. Last month, an all-white jury convicted Robert Bailey, 17, who has been incarcerated since December, of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. He could face up to twenty-two years in prison. This fight was not an isolated incident, but rather the culmination of a series of racial incidents which began several months earlier in September.

Although this case has garnered local, underground, and international attention, mainstream media coverage pales in comparison to previous cases in which whites are considered the protagonists (e.g., Men’s Duke Lacrosse team). Lest we think no black news story is worthy of national media coverage, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick recently made headlines for his alleged involvement in illegal dog fighting this past summer. Interestingly, many of the same champions of animal rights who are currently protesting Vick are not in protest of the Louisiana (in)justice system’s inhumanely despicable treatment of African Americans. It is a sad commentary on a country in which a significant segment of its populace holds the treatment of animals in higher regards than its citizens. This does not suggest that I condone animal cruelty, but rather I see irony in the outrage over the mistreatment of animals when six young men with promise are not deemed worthy of similar entitlement.

1 comment:

  1. Egads...I know this was written way back in 2007 but the ignorance and racial bias comes out more strongly than anything done in the Jena Six period and begged for some sort of comment.

    Let us not forget that at the current time, the only thing white Americans do to African Americans is to allow them the same opportunity as black Americans. It is astounding how well a lot of the African Americans perform in this country in comparison to the black Americans. Also, note the above author's weird and unusual analogy to a dog fight and inhumane treatment of dogs - which have absolutely no recourse or say in their treatment. None can make the same claim of black people. They are vocal and many are active and there are champions OF THEIR RACE. Should a white stand up and proclaim the same rights as the black, he would be immediately labeled a white supremacist. Where is the White American College Fund? Doesn't exist, so obviously there are avenues and SOAPBOXES available to the black American not available to the white.
    And while the blog may be in response to the Jena 6 trials, it is evident that the above author would prefer to rely upon making things people say a RACIAL ATTACK rather than taking action to bring us together with words that show our unity...such as..."our blacks" which does show ownership...much like a black person would say "our children, our wives, our mothers, our fathers, our husbands, our whites, our police, our government" etc....
    Grow up I in mature is time to set aside the racism that divides our country and in my view - primarily from the black American side...are there stupid and/or ignorant and/or racist and/or discredit to their race whites - absolutely. But as a whole the American white is giving, generous and non tolerant of white on black racism (but very tolerant of black on white racism).
    If you need something to rail against, try the poverty in this country and the ever widening distance between the rich and the not so rich. There is the unifying cry between the peoples...not the continuing whine of racism that is no greater than that that exists within the black community and aimed at itself....