Revolution #98, August 19, 2007

Editors Respond to Comments on Jena Coverage

This sampling of comments sent to Revolution gives a feel for how deeply the story of the Jena Six is striking a nerve with people. A number of letters alerted us to other similar outrages, and we will do our best to write about these cases or put these letters at our web site. Many readers are asking—demanding—to know what this is all about, and what we can do to stop this. Here we are in 2007. Lynching ropes hang from a tree in a schoolyard. A district attorney tells Black students that if they do anything about it, he can ruin their lives. And now six Black youth face decades in jail.

For many people who have experienced, or are aware of how widespread racism is in this society, the story of the Jena Six resonates deeply. Many feel compelled to do something to stop what is going on there. People should get the articles in the current issue of Revolution on Jena distributed online and in print, far and wide. People should organize protests around the country—there are protests planned in several cities on September 20 when Mychal Bell is scheduled to be sentenced. People should go to Jena to work for justice there.

We also got letters from white people who were very disturbed by our coverage, and are in some cases refusing to come to grips with what this is all about. Or, in other cases, beginning to come to grips with what this is all about but still being played by the system into thinking that Black people are to blame for societal prejudice. There’s a need for everyone, including white people in Jena and other places, to come forward in support of the Jena Six, in the face of the status quo. If you disagree with what’s happening you can’t just say you feel bad about it, you have to actively protest and resist this. And we are confident that as you do this you will feel compelled to get deeper into the actual root causes of outrages like Jena and begin to learn how Black people have been systematically oppressed.

Many people who wrote to us said that they are turning to god for help though prayer. But if there really was an all powerful, all knowing, and loving god, why would he allow this horrible thing to happen—where six young Black men are facing decades in jail like this? Or, if there was a god listening to all these prayers, and still allowing what is happening, in Jena, then he would be a very unjust, and oppressive god who was backing up those who strung up lynching ropes (and don’t forget that the Bible condones slavery). So there is no god who will free the Jena Six, or do anything else. And it is a good thing that there is no god. The problem is with an oppressive system here in the real world. And to get free, we have to confront and struggle to change this real world.

This whole case has been a glaring example of white supremacy, violently imposed on Black youth, and Black people generally, from the nooses, to the beatings and gunplay, down to the government itself putting these youth on trial, and then trying to sentence these youth to prison for decades. This whole thing is one more reminder of why we need a revolution. And now that people have dared to resist this, that resistance must be supported and spread, as part of building a revolutionary movement.

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