Monday, November 19, 2007

The Complexities and Challenges of the Jena 6 Case

Peace and blessings,

I've have been meaning to post these updates for a while, but I just never got around to it. I'm sure there has been many more updates since I first found this information. With that said, I wanted to say a couple of things about the Jena 6 case. In addition to this case being about issues of race and justice, there are a couple of peripheral issues that are related to these more obvious ones. One peripheral issue has to do with how people are going to interpret and respond to the media's portayal of the case. Since Jena 6, there has been a couple of incidents regarding some kind of physical and allegedly race-motivated treatment. The
  • incindet in Palmdale
  • involves a student getting apprehended by a security guard/police officer, and the
  • incident in Norfolk
  • involves a White male getting beat up by some African American males. In light of Jena 6, I think there are a couple of reasons why these incidents are occurring. One potential reason is that some people may want to use this opportunity to get on TV or gain some kind of recognition, or have an agenda that includes minimizing certain viewpoints and maximizing others. Another possibility is that the climate of the Jena 6 case has kind of set off a "chain reaction" in a sense such that similar events may start occurring in various places around the country.

    The other peripheral issue has to do with the our "human-ness." I think that there's a tendency to view people who receive mass media coverage and are portayed as victims as almost above human such that their conduct has to always be "squeaky clean." To address this issue, I think it is important make a distinction between siding with a cause because you believe in your heart it's the right thing to do, and siding with a cause because of the principle(s) or "big picture" that to you, the cause represents. Although I would like for the two to always go hand in hand (e.g. the actors in a cause always behaves in a way that is consistent with those principles that the cause represents), I know that sometimes that is not the case. For instance, when the rumor surfaced that
  • one of the Jena 6 was on video flossing some cash,
  • I would argue that most people (myself included) dropped their heads when they saw it and felt a wave of disappointment. However, the truth is that there are times when we act in ways that appear contradictory to how we are supposed to act in certain situations. The point is that whether or not it is actually one of the Jena 6 in the video should not divert attention from the principle(s) or "big picture," which in this case is the pursuit of authenitc justice for all races.

    I'm not sure if these two peripheral issues I raised makes sense, but I just wanted us to look at the Jena 6 case, how it's being portrayed in the media, and how people are reacting to the case and the case updates. By acknowledging the complexity and challenges of the Jena 6 case (and any other nationally televised issues of similar importance for that matter), it could help us make more informed decisions about the case and the side of the particular cause we are aligning with. I'm not trying to discredit these other incidents, and my heart and prayers go out to all the victims and families who have been treated unfairly by law enforcement or the justice system. All i'm saying is that with a case so politically, socially, and morally charged, we should be aware that there are plenty of latent effects that result in these situations, and thus stay pray'ed up so that the "big picture" does not get distorted or diluted by virtue of all these other incidents and rumors that come up. Whether or not these incidents are true, the important thing is that we do not lose sight of the big picture.

    What do you think? Take care, God bless and speekonit...

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