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My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Friday, September 21

What has been left out? Racism in jena

Austin-American Statesman Article on Jena

My curiosity was aroused by the article in my local paper about a rally in Jena, Louisiana. Why the big fuss now? Over some "thugs" who beat someone up? Why not a big protest about the nooses in the tree? What about the rights of a person to not be beaten?

It didn't all fit together, so I decided to check out some other news sources. It was like reading about an entirely different event. I must say, I'm a little surprised at how many important details were left out of the local paper.


NPR Story on Jena

The NPR version makes a bit more sense. I can see now why there's so much tension. The school was burned down. No one knows who did it.

A similar incident happened immediately before the white student was attacked.

Get this, a (different) white student pulled a gun on the black student. The black student wrestled the gun away and took it home. Guess who was charged with a crime? The black student - for theft of a firearm?! No charges against the guy who'd actually pulled the firearm out, potentially with intent to shoot the black student.

As far as racial problems, our community is no different than any other community," Fowler says.
Fowler is a school board member, and unfortunately, I think he may be correct. I don't know that his community is much different from many other communities. I don't think it's a good answer. But he and many other white leaders agree that the charges are unfair. I think that's a huge improvement in our culture over the last 100 years, but I think there's a lot of ground left to cover.

I'd like to think that MY community is different, but I can't say for sure whether it is. The minorities in my community don't seem to think they're being treated fairly - judging by the protests and complaints about some recent incidents.

I wonder what NPR has left out of its version of the story.

Did the (white) student who pulled the gun have a reasonable fear of harm? Was he not charged because it was "self-defense"? Had it been a black student in his place, would it have been considered "self-defense"? I know of a (white) man who served a number of years in prison for pulling a gun out and shooting someone in self-defense. The crime was in having the gun more than defending himself. Of course, he was shooting at a white guy. Would it have been different if the other man were black?

Why didn't Bailey turn over the gun to police? It might have prevented his being charged with theft/robbery (Still hard to swallow that one, even so). Maybe he didn't trust the police?

And, btw, I have been using "black" in my terminology because that is what is used in the stories. I thought that wasn't politically correct? I've always found "African-American" a bit problematic too because not all black people in America are African-American. At least, they wouldn't consider themselves African-American.

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