Memo to Jena: Nooses Are More Than a Prank

An interesting discussion considering the news today that two people have been arrested for displaying nooses off the back of their truck as they passed by protesters yesterday.

And more blog coverage of Jena 6 worth checking out:
- Jack And Jill Politics have tirelessly covered the Jena 6 story.
- Join Color of Change's Support The Jena 6 campaign
- Matt Stoller has an interesting post over at Open Left about the influence of blogs in moving this story
- Elliott Petty has two other posts up at Courage Campaign about the Jena 6 that are well-worth reading.
- MissLaura writes at dailyKos about the inequality of justice that is at the heart of this story, inequality that is not unique to Jena, LA.
- And of course check out the posts by Pravin and rikyrah in the diaries as well.
- Todd

Who gave Jena residents talking points? I couldn't make the voyage to Jena as I wanted to so I had to watch the march and rally on CNN, which gave plenty of airtime to white Jena residents. One after the other, and then another, they consistently thought the nooses were just a prank and felt we all had the wrong impression of the people of Jena.

Perhaps are impression of Jena is exactly what it should be. We cannot in the year of our lord, 2007 believe that hanging three nooses from a tree where two young black men sat the day before were just pranks.

In this case, the hanging of nooses is an aggressive act of racial intimidation, not a prank.

A prank is a joke on an unsuspecting person. There is no intent of actual or perceived physical, mental or emotional harm on the individual or group being pranked.

We cannot say the same about hanging nooses from a tree that was reserved for white students only until two brave young men sat under it as their forefathers sat at segregated lunch counters a generation before them.

Either the folk of Jena don't understand the intentions of the noose hangers, the real and perceived reaction to the hanging nooses or they privately support the action of hanging nooses.

Also, the talking point focus on the "hanging noose" prank completely ignores four months of racial incidents at the high school and elsewhere that involved physical attacks, guns and arson, mostly at the hand of white perpetrators who have gone largely unprosecuted.

Everyone pretends not to be racist. These things don't happen here, so on and so forth. I remember one CNN reporter on the scene in Jena, told viewers that she visited the home of one of the alleged white victims of this case. She reported being greeted at the door by two white men holding shotguns.

It wasn't on camera, but I believe that reaction to the march and rally in Jena tells us everything about the people there because we saw those same reactions in the 50s and 60s.

There was one white family who would acknowledge the racial strife that exists in Jena. They recently bought a home in a neighboring town because they're now afraid to send their children to a public school in Jena.

In the case of unequal justice in Jena, that is different standards for white attackers and black attackers, silence grants consent.

Tags: Jena 6, Noose, Pranks, racism (all tags)

Comments

21 Comments

Re: Memo to Jena: Nooses Are More Than a Prank

I disagree.  I think the citizens were probably being completely honest in calling them merely pranks.  That they saw the incident this way shows a more entrenched racism.

by justinh 2007-09-21 09:21AM | 0 recs
i'd bet the white kids who did it thought it was a

prank.  i'm sure that the black kids who saw the nooses did not...

by bored now 2007-09-21 02:48PM | 0 recs
Re: i'd bet the white kids who did it thought it w

The 16 year old said he was in the KKK.

If anyone knows just what to do with a noose it would be the Klan.

by MNPundit 2007-09-21 03:38PM | 0 recs
geez...

that's just disgusting...

by bored now 2007-09-21 04:46PM | 0 recs
Re: geez...

Do you really expect anything better from Louisiana which almost elected David Duke and where every other governor has been indicted? I am pretty sure that at least 75% of Jena's whites voted for David Duke. It is after all their children displaying then noose. Why is anyone even surprised?

by Boilermaker 2007-09-21 07:46PM | 0 recs
no, i expect better from us...

by bored now 2007-09-22 04:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Memo to Jena: Nooses Are More Than a Prank

hanging nooses from a tree that was reserved for white students only

The tree was not reserved for white people only. That is the impression the students had. But it wasn't the school policy. There is a HUGE difference between that and forced segregation. Please don't blow this out of proportion.

by DoIT 2007-09-21 09:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Memo to Jena: Nooses Are More Than a Prank

I agree. The noose incident was completely disgusting and there deserves to be an outcry, just as there deserves to be an outcry about the inconsistent and cruel prosecution of the accused in the beatings case. There's no evidence that the school had any personal responsibility for what happened: they didn't reserve a tree for anyone. (Although I think it's pretty stupid that they then cut it down as though that was going to help.)

p.s. I am proud that my man David Bowie donated $10,000 to the NAACP's Jena kids' legal defense fund.

by bowiegeek 2007-09-21 10:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Memo to Jena: Nooses Are More Than a Prank

That the school didn't have an official "whites only" policy for the tree doesn't mean they have no responsibility. It seems very unlikely the school didn't know about the "informal" rule--they should have done something about that.

your friend
Keith

by keith johnson 2007-09-22 11:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Memo to Jena: Nooses Are More Than a Prank

Define an informal rule. And since when is it okay for a school to dictate when and where its students can socialize on campus? It wasn't racist that only whites happened to hang out at that tree, just that the way those students reacted when someone who wasn't white wanted to sit there too. The school has no part in that: nor should they. But they were right to suspend the people who were responsible for the "prank," which was disgusting at best.

by bowiegeek 2007-09-22 04:40PM | 0 recs
more right wing framing...

racism is not only racism when it's institutionalized.  you clearly do not understand this subject.  here's a clue: "the term "racial discrimination" shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life." and "In Portraits of White Racism David Wellman (1993) has defined racism as "culturally sanctioned beliefs, which, regardless of intentions involved, defend the advantages whites have because of the subordinated position of racial minorities," (Wellman 1993: x). Sociologists Noel Cazenave and Darlene Alvarez Maddern define racism as "...a highly organized system of 'race'-based group privilege that operates at every level of society and is held together by a sophisticated ideology of color/'race' supremacy. Racist systems include, but cannot be reduced to, racial bigotry," (Cazenave and Maddern 1999: 42)."

don't minimize this just because you aren't comfortable with its implications.  you shouldn't be...

by bored now 2007-09-21 02:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Memo to Jena: Nooses Are More Than a Prank

JustinH, I never said they werent honest about their feelings regarding the nooses, I'm simply pointing out that they dont understand how harmful that statement is.  BTW, that was no prank, they sent a clear message, one I dont believe rises to the level of prosecution.

But to simply call the noose incident a prank ignores the months of racial attacks from both sides that occured during a span of three months.

In a sense, they are reducing serious racial animosity to a harmless prank

by Elliott Petty 2007-09-21 10:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Memo to Jena: Nooses Are More Than a Prank

I don't think we're in disagreement.  Thanks for the diary.

by justinh 2007-09-21 10:55AM | 0 recs
If you are not black, then you do view this

differently.

You do.

My mother and grandmother remember white "KKK" members, in Alabama, snatching blacks for whatever reasons and hanging them "before their eyes" as a reminder to "keep them in check".

Black folk, view this differently.  That was not a prank.  And those white kids, did not want the black kids by the "white tree" and let them know by intimidation.

The school board did a lousy job in handling this from the offset.

But to just shoo-shoo this under the rug and think Black People are being too sensitive, you will not know, because race still matters greatly in this country.  If it did not, we would not be in dialogue right now.

by iamready 2007-09-21 02:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Memo to Jena: Nooses Are More Than a Prank

You bet it's more than a prank.  The nooses were an implicit death threat born of a time when people knew exactly what they meant.  For people today to white-wash that meaning is outrageous.  And it's truly amazing how "white" America, of which I am a part, has failed to grasp that.

A noose hanging from a tree is a symbol not just of oppression, but of intimidation, control, and unspeakable violence.

I believe the six felt threatened.  And no one in the school administration seemed to care.

I don't believe in violence.  But the first act of violence was committed against the Jena 6.

Just my two cents.

by KathyinBlacksburg 2007-09-21 03:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Memo to Jena: Nooses Are More Than a Prank

Everyone involved escalated at every step. I feel like I'm back in 1963, although it seems that in that town it is 1863. So much for the New South.

I empathize completely with the black students. I would have taken it for a death threat also.

Still, I have qualms about six on one, although we do not know all that transpired immediately before the fight. This is what courts are for, IF you have a fair judge and an impartial jury, both of which seem to be lacking.

by antiHyde 2007-09-21 07:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Memo to Jena: Nooses Are More Than a Prank

The school district should have NIPPED THIS IN THE BUD, but did not.  They are partially responsible for letting this escalate, because that is what happened, here.

by iamready 2007-09-21 07:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Memo to Jena: Nooses Are More Than a Prank

Absolutely!  Ditto for the D.A. and the Trial judge.

I talked with a (white) co-worker from Mississippi today. He is convinced there was an all-white jury. He said I was naive even to ask about the jury's composition. Also, regarding the six on one, he said we don't know what was done or said to provoke the beating incident, but from his own knowledge of the town he grew up in, you can bet that there WAS severe provocation.

by antiHyde 2007-09-22 04:29PM | 0 recs
america is a social experiment; it's not perfect


the best defence againt bigotry is success.

those young people meant to struck a painful nerve with the nooses. they did.

by pmb 2007-09-21 03:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Memo to Jena: Nooses Are More Than a Prank

Bush gave his News Conference to change the subject during the huge demonstration in Jena.  You could tell he was angry at black people by his comments about Condi being smart but she is just his advisor while he is the President.  His other comment about Sadam Hussein killing the ever so alive Nelson Mandella and all the other Mandellas was a real beaut. So there is a train of thought in that empty warhead.

by changehorses08 2007-09-21 10:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Memo to Jena: Nooses Are More Than a Prank

I too heard the Jena whites on CNN disavowing their racism. OK, but I say: show me!

The plight of the Jena Six is largely due to the actions of the local DA, Reed Walters. So, citizens of Jena: recall his ass (if that is possible under local law), or at a minimum, don't reelect him.

I won't be holding my breath!

Bill Rudman

by Bill Rudman 2007-09-22 12:06PM | 0 recs

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