Sept. 21-Sept. 23, 2007
Vol. 102, Iss. 78; pg. 5
I chose to write about an article that I found on Ethnic Newswatch from the Chicago Defender about the Jena 6 case. In this story, a mother of three children, including two African American males, Lisa Hayden, went to Jena, La., to speak with some of the residents to see how they felt about the case. According to Hayden, she felt as thought the case was completely insane and stated, “It really had no place in our society. It…made a mockery of our justice system” (pg 5). She traveled around the town of Jena to popular places in which both black and white community members spent time. She found that many community members did not want to be directly quoted or have their pictures taken because they said that they have to live there and they didn’t want people to know who they were and where the stood on the issue.
Overall, Hayden found that the community members that she spoke to said they were relatively unimpressed with the case stating that it wasn’t the first time that something like this has happened there. One man expressed shame over how the legal system was handling the situation but most people described the situation as a misunderstanding.
The reason why I chose this article because it stood out compared to the other articles pertaining to the Jena 6 case. Most articles think that it’s a terrible situation and in this article, the issue is kind of swept under the rug and they act like it is no big deal. I found connections in the article with Johnson’s chapter 8, Getting off the Hook: Denial and Resistance.
One connection that I found in this article that relates to Johnson’s chapter 8 is in the article it is stated that the schoolyard nooses were related to the rodeo, not lynching. This goes a long with an excerpt from chapter 8 the states, “[They] act as though a lack of conscious intent means a lack of effect, as if saying it was only a joke or only being aware of it as a joke is enough to make it just a joke” (114). This acts as though they were oblivious to the fact that the nooses could have been referring to the lynching and rather they were just referring to the rodeo therefore there was no harmful meaning behind them.
This is also an example of Johnson’s call it something else. By saying that it was referring to the rodeo, it takes them off the hook for it meaning something racially. Also, when the community members say that this is simply a misunderstanding, it shows that they are simply denying what truly was going on at the school that day. By calling it a misunderstanding they are trying to put the issue behind them and point a blind eye towards the fact that it is truly an issue that needs to be addressed.
Overall, I feel as though this article is rather upsetting that some of the members of Jena feel as though this instance was just a misunderstanding and they think that it should be put behind them. In all actuality, it’s a sign that racism does still occur in today’s society and it is still an issue. I can understand why these people did not want their pictures taken or to be directly quoted because their views truly showed an opposing view of many of the other community members and even people across the world.