by Misael S '13

Jena 6, Racism Today

Many people today don’t know what Jena 6 is and quite frankly that’s a shame. It is a subject that most newspapers and news channels wanted to ignore. In Jena, Louisiana six black students, Mychal Bell, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, Theo Shaw, and Robert Bailey, Jr., allegedly ambushed Justin Barker a white student.
10% black students, and 85% white students inhabited Jena High School. At lunchtime white students would sit under a tree eventually called the “white tree” and black students would sit on the bleachers near the auditorium. A black student asked the principal if he could sit under the white tree. The principal said you could sit wherever you wanted so they did. The next day three nooses were hung on the tree. After the principal discovered that it was three white students that committed the crime, the principal wanted to expel them. The board of education overruled that action and Superintendent Roy Breithaupt agreed. The white students only got three days of in-school suspension.
The tree was cut down thinking that it would make people forget about the nooses. IT DIDN’T. On December 1 2006 there was a mostly attended white party with some blacks at the Jena Fair Barn. 5 black students tried to come at 11 p.m. but a white woman said that no one was allowed in without an invitation. They insisted on going in and a white man jumped in front of the women and attacked the black students. After the fight broke up the 5 black students had to leave. Then they were attacked by a group of white men. Justin Sloan, a white man was charged with simple battery for his role in the fight and was put on probation.
On December 20, 2006 at a convenience store Robert Bailey jr. and friends ran into a person. The white man claimed that Bailey and his friends chased him so he got his gun, but they wrestled it out of his hand. Bailey claims that outside the store they were confronted with the white student with a shotgun, wrestled it out of his hand, and then ran away. Bailey and two others were charged with theft of a firearm, second-degree robbery, and disturbing the peace. The white man who owned the gun was charged with nothing.
On December 4, 2006 a white student Justin Barker was attacked from behind, and the other students kicked his unconscious body. He spent three hours in the emergency room. Later when he was released he attended his school’s Ring ceremony that very same day.
Mychal was the only one of the six tried so far, and even though he was 16 he wasn’t tried on a juvenile court. He was charged with attempted second-degree murder. He could’ve possibly gotten 22 years in jail. Later on he was tried in a Juvenile court and his sentence got reduced to a 45,000-dollar bail. Due to his record Bell will be called back for 18 months in jail because he violated a probation unrelated to Jena 6. His life is now in the hands of this judge.
Something so simple as expelling these students could’ve prevented all these things from happening. Hopefully the boys will get tried fairly and will continue to live their lives. Sadly racism hasn’t been abolished ion our world after all the work of activists. Martin Luther King’s dream doesn’t seem like it will come true soon. By Miseal

By Mr. Lakhaney

TOK Teacher

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