Friday, September 21, 2007

Jena timeline

The Jena 6 coverage has contained a lot of heat but not enough facts for me to come to any conclusion other than the obvious, high school boys do stupid stuff and sometimes the consequences are way more than anticipated.

I was thankful this morning to come across a timeline of events published by the local Jena paper in response to requests for it (scroll down).

I didn't realize that initial this story is over a year old. The nooses were hung under the tree on August 31, 2006. The paper also reports that they were removed from the tree by 7:15 am before most of the student body had come to school. The principal wanted to expel the three white students who placed the nooses in the tree but he was overruled by an expulsion committee that recommended suspension instead finding there was no racial motivation behind the prank. How nooses in a tree can have no racial connotations in Louisiana is beyond this white woman--but they say it was a prank based on a movie. Obviously, I didn't see that one.

You might want to read through this Jena Times accounting to get a better frame for all the accusations and rhetoric being thrown around. It does contain some editorializing comments here and there but just getting the events in their proper order will be tremendously helpful.


din819go said...

Kay -- I cannot thank you enough for this time line. My son wore black to school Thursday to protest (this was allowed at his school as part of their school colors). Yet, when I asked him about the event he had not hard the truth or full story. I doubt most kids and families have a clue as to what really happened in Jena.

Because of your timeline my boys and I had a very interesting conversation. I have no problem with them protesting, I just want them to know the facts as they are known.

Sadly, MNPS really screwed up. They missed and opportunity to share the facts with the students and have them discuss what they learned. What an opportunity that would have been for critically thinking about and discussing an issue that has become national news for all the wrong reasons.


Oh, if you have any information on homeschool sport leagues, in particular basketball in Nashville would you please post it?

Thanks again --

Kay Brooks said...

You're welcome. I'm really glad it allowed your family to discuss, as you say, 'the facts are they are known'.

RE: homeschool basketball check: Nashville Christian Warriors website.

lcreekmo said...

I agree with most of what you said here -- and I will add, I think it's entirely possible the nooses weren't meant in the way those of us of ahem, a certain age would take them.

I was born in 1971, and while the civil rights movement is to me fairly recent history, it's certainly history. And was even moreso when I was in school.

Kids in high school today were BORN between 1989 and 1993. At best, the civil rights movement of the 1960s is as foreign to them as the Korean or Second World Wars were, and still are, to me.

Certainly we should continue to strive for greater racial justice, but I can totally see how a teenager today wouldn't get the full significance of hanging a noose in a tree.

Wendy said...

NPR has been doing a fairly balanced report of the facts too. So we too have had some important conversations around the dinner table about our words and actions.

Since I come from a Presbyterian background, I'm always looking at who's the intended audience. With the "white" children, I think their intended audience was the minority "black" children going to school in Jena, LA. I may be wrong but these children are being raised by parents who most likely were part or knew about the Civil Rights movement.

The original black children asked the principal if they could sit under the lone oak tree where traditionally only the white children congregated before and after school. I simply can't imagine the black children in MNPS asking permission to go anywhere that the white children typically choose, nor can I see our community tollerating nooses being hung from trees as a prank or other wise.

Certainly, the teenagers and young adults at our local colleges and universities get the picture of racism and wanted to protest the inconsistencies in punishments. According to NPR's broadcast, the adult folks--lawyers and school board members--in Jena said there is nothing in the LA law against hanging nooses from an oak tree.

Finally, I really don't think that racism should be an excuse or reason to beat another child. You're never going to resolve issues by force. Both black and white children should learn that very hard lesson.

Nashteach said...

Finally, I really don't think that racism should be an excuse or reason to beat another child.

Wendy- I don't mean to disagree with you at all, there is never an excuse for violence. And those guilty of assault should be appropriately punished. However, what the Jena Times fails to mention but NPR does explain is the cause of the beating:

The following Monday, Dec.4, a white student named Justin Barker was loudly bragging to friends in the school hallway that Robert Bailey had been whipped by a white man on Friday night. When Barker walked into the courtyard, he was attacked by a group of black students.

It was wrong to beat Justin Barker, but Barker victimized others, verbally and in a very open and hurtful way, before he himself became a victim. There was no excuse, but there was a cause. The biggest failure is the school (and town) didn't foster a community that dealt with verbal abuse and taunting. The nooses on that tree should have been evidence enough that taunting was a dangerous thing.

I couldn't imagine what I'd do if I heard bragging that someone I cared about had been beaten up.