Monday, November 05, 2007

The Jena sux

I'd like to take a quick second to publicly apologize to my loyal readers for blindly jumping on the Jena 6 bandwagon. While I'm relieved that the initial charges of six black teens beating up a white teen were rightly reduced from attempted murder to assault; and while I'm fully aware of the ill state of race relations in this country, recent events involving these kids have turned me off to this Jena 6 nonsense for good.

First, two of the Jena 6 boys were seen chillin' and partying at the BET Awards. Then, there was so-called "comedian" Katt Williams sporting a noose on the red carpet. Then, as if I couldn't get any more annoyed, another one of other boys *allegedly* posted pictures of himself on his Myspace page, where he's flashing what some people suspect are donations from supporters. Though I can't speak directly to the veracity of that claim, I can at least comfortably say is that when it comes to painting themselves out to be the tragic victims of racism, the Jena six sux.

True, I'm upset at these kids for discrediting themselves (and, for that matter, their "cause") by engaging in this foolishness. But I won't dismiss forget the fact that they are teenagers; albeit stupid ass teenagers. So I won't go down too hard on them. Instead, I'm actually shifting more of the burden to the parents, lawyers, and activists who have made this case what it is. How effective have they been in teaching these kids the importance of low exposure during important trials? What have they done to teach these kids about the social responsibilities that come with being in the spotlight (whether they wanted to be thrusted in it or not)? What have these folks taught the Jena six boys about honoring and respecting the contributions/sacrifices others have made to support them?

At least I can say that -- outside of a post on my blog -- I haven't lost too much of an investment regarding the case. I'm glad that I followed my better judgment and restrained from sending donations and/or personally traveling to Jena. But if any of you actually did do any of the aforementioned things, I don't think you'd be too hard pressed in demanding a refund.

Holla at me!


14 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

Joanne said...

If this is all true, then it makes all the protesting and marching almost a moot case. But I'm not convinced that mainstream media will do much to bring this to the light; in fear of being labeled insensitive to the victim(s).

Very interesting post.

Malik said...

1. I haven't seen any evidence that any of these kids even have a MySpace page, much less that they are the kids featured in the pictures currently making the rounds on the internet.

2. Even if they are the kids in the pictures, the chances that they have direct access to their defense fund are zero to none. Aside from the fact that they're minors, the fund was established and is managed by ColorOfChange.

3. These kids are kids, not PR consultants. The BET awards show was probably the most exciting and stunning spectacle they had ever seen in their short sheltered lives. I would expect them to act silly. You would probably act a little silly.

4. I expect all this attention is going to their little small town heads. Kids by nature rarely appreciate the seriousness of anything. As you said, somebody needs to sit down with them and try to help them to appreciate the significance of their position. Still, the importance of this case doesn't turn on the public image of these kids. Whether they're angels or a**holes, they still deserve equal justice, and so do the rest of us.

5. What does Katt Williams have to with anything in life?

HeiressChild said...

i saw and heard about all that you had mentioned. that's why i'm not too quick to jump on anyone's bandwagon. it could have all happened the way it was said to, but then when people do certain things not clearly thinking of the outcome, it introduces doubt about the facts and ruins things for them and others. i think the parents and lawyers definitely should have talked to them, but in my opinion, they're old enough to have exercised a little more sense than they did, considering the circumstances.

HeiressChild said...

i checked out the link that malik listed, and it would definitely seem that they have absolutely no personal contact with the money as it's being directed to attorneys, witnesses, etc. it didn't say anything about them recieving any monies personally.

The H.C. said...

Hey Dre,
Welcome back, I was getting concerned that you hadn't posted in a while. I think the point you are making is a valid one. I do, as you stated, think that these kids don't understand how important this issue is, and to make light of it in any way does diminish their issue. (which is inequities in the justice system) However, (I'm really going to play both sides here) I do see Malik's points too. They are kids who don't understand their effect. In today's narcissistic society, it's hard to blame young people who are told they are the center of the universe and have no obligation to the larger society. @Heiress, you make a good point too; "it didn't say anything about them recieving any monies personally." Is it possible that some money not handled by ColorofChange IS making it's way into their hands? Good Post Dre.

Andre said...

To address the points raised:

(1) I'm trying to be careful not to rely on alleged photos to make an argument. I first heard about the photos perusing other sites in the black blogosphere. So, as I said, I can't speak to authenticity of those claims. But, as of today, those claims have gone uncontested by any of the key figures (lawyers and activists especially) engulfed in the Jena storyline.

If those claims are proven wrong, I have no problem admitting my being wrong. It's not the first time I've supported unfounded claims only to then be show my errors...

(2) The ultimate victory for me in this case was seeing the charge reduction. I'm not, however, in the habit of celebrating blacks who commit criminal offenses in retaliation to racism. Yes, there needs to be a critical examination of the state of race relations in this country. Yes, black folks have developed a sense of legal and judicial nihilism so severe that they choose to disengage in their civic involvement. But these kids certainly aren't choir boys.

(3) My ultimate issue involving this story is the concept of victimization. In a perfect world, victimization should be recognized solely when there is some type of adversity that occurs as a result of a person being attacked, violated, hurt, etc. But in reality, the concept of victimization is a product of (1) being an actual victim and (2) garnering sympathy, support, and acknowledgement about being a victim from the greater society. Sadly, we live in an age where perception matters just as much as truth. So when people see the "victims" of the Jena six in an environment that doesn't translate into being a victim, the cause tends to lose credibility. It wasn't like these kids were just spectators at the award show; they were participants (guest presenters). They were essentially treated like celebrities. From a societal view, that's a far cry from being a victim. Is it fair for such a proclamation to be made? Of course not. But does it happen? All the time. THAT'S why I think the parents, lawyers, activists, ect. should play a more active role in this case; a role that extends a little further than giving press conferences and yelling loudly through bullhorns.

Andre said...

Before I forget, I know at least two people who donated money directly to the families. I'm not so sure if the terms and conditions laid out by Color of Change apply to other private sponsors. That, then, raises the possibility of physical cash winding up in the hands of some of the kids.


KC said...

Dre, I get your points and all but you seemed to leave out the fact that BET themselves gave this boys an outlet. Perhaps some of the blame should go to them as well.

Andre said...

KC, you already know how I feel about BET. I won't be saying nothing that you haven't heard before.

Joslyn said...

Hi Andre! You better not stand me up this weekend!!!!

* looks at topic*

* reads resonses*

*agrees with Malik*

Cynthia said...


At first I thought to myself the only thing we needed to focus on was the injustice represented in this case. But after I re-read your post and your subsequent comment, I started to get where you were coming from. I agree with the rest of the room in that these kids' behaviors don't dismiss the injustice that has taken place. But it DOES make them look less victimized when they've acheived a celebrity status from the injustice. Even if it's not their intention, it looks like they're almost basking in their status. That doesn't look good when you're trying to convince people that they've been victimized. The parents should have known this.

Andre said...


I don't have a lot of time right now, but I wanted to address what you said:

Like you, I'm not tryin' to kick these kids while they're down (though I'm questioning just how 'down' they really are, given that they actually DID beat that white kid up; provoked or not). And like you, I think that the injustice stinks even above and beyond their behaviors. But I'm also saying that the greater society is often too shallow and vaccous to come to such a realization.

An author named Douglas Brinkley made an interesting observation in his book about Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights movement. A fascinating piece of his commentary mentioned how another young lady, Claudette Colvin, actually preceded Ms. Parks in being arrested for refusing to give up her seat for a white person. But since she was a young, sassy, teenager (who, by the way was pregnant and unmarried at the time), the NAACP decided not to use her case as the catalyst for the movement.

As I maintain, when it comes to the perceptions of the greater society, the cause can -- and often is -- superceded by the credibility and background of the so-called victim.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Hi, I really know nothing about the Jena 6 case but while there is a need to fight racism and unfair treatment, all of us as a society must also stress personal responsibility and not excuse their behavior, just as we should not excuse racist behavior.

Andre said...

@ LGS: "...while there is a need to fight racism and unfair treatment, all of us as a society must also stress personal responsibility and not excuse their behavior, just as we should not excuse racist behavior."

My point exactly.

I hate that I have to admit this (especially in this day in age), but victims actually have a social responsibility to be a victim. Anything less than that damages their credibility in society's eyes. Again, it's not fair, but that's just how it is...