In an article about a piece of history in the process of writing itself, Sally Kohn over at the Huffington Post asks a really good question:
Why is it that mainstream white media and white folks in general are so obsessed (once again) with OJ’s guilt but paying little or no attention to the innocence of the Jena Six?
Don’t know about the Jena Six? Thanks to the media, you aren’t alone. Here’s Kohn’s synopsis:
In the small town of Jena [Louisiana] last fall, two black high school students sat in a schoolyard under a tree. The tree was known as the “white tree” because only white kids are allowed to sit under it. The day after the two black students defied this unspoken rule, nooses were hung from the tree. The school principle dismissed it as a “prank”. Black students protested by sitting under the tree, in growing numbers. The District Attorney came to the school and threatened them, saying, “I can take away your lives with the stroke of a pen.”
There was a series of violent incidents were white students attacked black students. The government and school administrators ignored those. But when a white student was beaten up by six black students in a schoolyard fight — after provoking the black students with racist taunts — the District Attorney charged the black students with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. They were charged in adult court. Meanwhile, the white student they beat up suffered only minor cuts and bruises.
One of the black students, Mychal Bell — age 16 — has been in prison since December. Last month, an all-white jury decided that Bell was guilty — not guilty of beating up a student who racially taunted him, but guilty of attempted murder.
Welcome to the new Jim Crow. While institutionalized racisim rears its head for months in such a profound way that thousands of people marched on the little town of Jena today, the mainstream media focuses on what? The trifling and thuggy antics of a two-bit former athlete in a nice suit. If you think I’m implying that the media has a racial bias you’re right.
This piece of info popped up at HRC as I was writing: The Lafayette Daily Advertiser says a Louisiana circuit court of appeals wants to know why Bell is still in jail even though his conviction was overturned last week. Hopefully accountability is on the way.