That NEW Adage

A pressure-relief valve about God, and just about everything else.

Jena In A Bottle


I was out of town on a gig (I need to write about THAT experience…) when Jena, Louisiana was made the object of national observation. Some of my church members, White and Black, drove down. Of all the back and forth about whether the 6 kids deserve to be charged with attempted murder (outrageous!), one thing occurred to me that hasn’t been discussed. Yes, I have heard the argument that if the perps were White and the victim Black, Black folk would want them charged likewise and convicted. Maybe so… I’ll leave alone the fact that the power structure in this country causes a different dynamic in that scenario. (What n*$%er-equivalent word could a White person be called that would cause him to possibly kick somebody in the head? That’s just for starters. Fair or UNfair.) The scales are simply unbalanced. Even if we SHOULD be, we are not at the point where race doesn’t play a significant role in America. To reverse the roles and make the aggressors White does not address the issue I have in all this.

The thing that struck me when I saw all of the coverage was this: The point is not that the PERPETRATORS were Black, it is that the VICTIM is White. Put bluntly, Black Life is not nearly as valuable in this country as is White Life.

I watch news shows a lot. More than I probably should, and more than I ever thought I would when I was a kid and saw my father doing it every night. It seemed so BORING!! I watch O’Reilly, Hannity, MSNBC, and CNN. In the last couple of years, I have seen a number of stories on kids fighting on video. I have seen the hosts decry the decline of our society. In most of the stories I’ve seen, the victims were White. Just the other night, in fact, Bill O’Reilly- whom I don’t hate- did a piece on four Black boys beating up a White boy. He wanted to know, in light of the recent controversy, what implications race had in the fight. YouTube is full of videos of children fighting. They often make the news shows.

For every missing Black college girl profiled, there are stories done on fiftyWhite girls! Does Chandra Levy ring a bell? Laci Peterson? Natalie Holloway?  We all have been inculcated with the fact that a missing or murdered White person is infinitely more valuable to society than some random Negro, since “all they do is kill each other anyway.” Some of you have said this. The vitriol is only amped up further if the perpetrator is Black. Or ASSUMED to be Black. 

Don’t Black babies disappear, too? Don’t Black kids get snatched by pedophiles? Or do they all just die at the hands of baby-mama-boyfriends? Where are all the “Breaking News!!” stories on them? One would think that only White babies are kidnappable.

I have seen cases first hand where murder was committed against a Black person and the time served was little, if any. A lady three houses down from me was murdered by her husband in broad daylight, practically in my sight, when I was about twelve, and we used to see him driving down our street all the time afterward. A boy was stabbed to death at an after-school party when I was in high school, and I doubt if the murderer did three years! There are dozens of examples like these that I could give.

It is a well-known fact that if two Black guys get into it and one dies, the sentence will be light. When someone broke into our home when I was about seventeen, the first question the White cop asked when he pulled up was, “Didja git ‘im?” The implications of that question were not lost on me. Brothers know that “if I shoot you, I ain’ gone git but 11/29.” Meaning that they will only serve 11 months, and 29 days. Not even a year! And if you shoot a Black burglar, just drag him in the house and call the cops afterward. Black Life.

There is a story out of Texas, I think, about some White guys beating a mentally disabled man into a catatonic state recently. I don’t think anyone has been jailed, and I do remember hearing more than once that the guys just “got a little bit outta hand”. They were not bad guys, just rambunctious boys. This man was called “monkey,” the “N”word, and other slurs. He was made to dance for the amusement of those “rambunctious boys,” and now, he cannot function. Black Life.

The startling ramification of all this is that Black folk are more at risk from other Black folk. Cultural genocide is the offspring of the mindset that White folk will watch us kill each other off and occupy the abandoned land, as is being done in parts of the city in which I live. 

The irony is that, as scared as White folks are of people like me, the LAST thing a brother would do is hurt a White person because he knows that the book will be filled with cobras, packed in C4 and thrown at him! On my gig in Gulfport, MS this past weekend, the guitar player and I went to get on the elevator after having eaten. An old White lady got on before us, and when she saw us, she stiffened up and forgot to even push the button for her floor! We did it for her, and when she arrived at her stop, she walked out of that elevator as though two vampires were stalking her! It was funny to us. And sad. We were probably the two least threatening people in the whole hotel, but because of that fear, she was unable to tell.

Cases like the one in Jena are rare. Most Black violence is directed at other Blacks. But when nooses are hung on a tree that Black kids had to ASK permission to sit under, and when racial slurs are hurled about, and when Black kids are whupped, and when shotguns are wielded in Black faces with no repercussions, things may get “out of hand”. My daddy used to tell us that when someone tells you to leave them alone, you’d better do so, because if they pick up a brick and hit you with it, the fact that they were in the wrong won’t put your head back together. And, no, I’m not saying that those boys were right for doing what they are accused of doing.

Maybe Mychael Bell was a thug. But the point is not that he was an angel, only that there are White thugs in this story, too, and they weren’t charged with doggone felonies! I have seen, and been in, many schoolyard fights. I have seen kids get jumped. I have never seen charges filed. If Bell had been expelled, I don’t think anyone would have been upset, other than perhaps his mother. But the excessiveness of the charges just serves to further ingrain what we all already know in America. White Life is more precious.

 “Y’all can kill each other, but leave us alone!” As though we ALL are not in the same human family. I get it. To you, I’m not worth as much.

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September 26, 2007 - Posted by | Bill O'Reilly, Jena, Jena 6, Race, Racism

1 Comment »

  1. i read a lotta blogs on jena 6 n seen lotta tv on it and stuff from youtube…its easy to blame the kids n say wat they shoulda did and how violence never solves anythin, but a little hard to say it in america where violence IS the way america does it…

    thing is…behind all this, is a tree reserved for whites…in a schoolyard suppose to care for and nurture all kids…if its understood in that town that a tree is whites only…theres a whole lot more still hidin…

    this is a good post…to criminalize the children involved isnt gonna do as much good as facin up to the history here and makin stuff right…this could be the opener of a real dialogue fa change…a real accounting on all sides and a chance to hear…every child here is a victim…tha boys will be boys mentality over the nooses gotta be silenced…

    may our Lord send a voice to His true gospel in the midst of jena…and may every child involved find His mercy…be bless… -g-

    Comment by CovenantBride | September 26, 2007 | Reply


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