September is about two things.

Tuesday (today) Kanye West and 50 Cent’s big record sale showdown takes place. Grown-ups’ hip hop versus, well, versus 50 Cent.

The other event, I can’t believe I missed. I got the dates wrong. It happened last Tuesday. This is what I was going to blog:

Have you ever heard of the Jena Six (The BBC link) (Jena Six-Newsweek link) ? Sit down. It is going to be a story.

In the town of Jena, Louisiana, there are 3,000 people, 80% of them white. At the local high school, the white kids (the majority) liked to gather under a tree that used to stand in the compound during their leisure time. The blacks would hang around the benches on the sides.

One day during assembly, when the headmaster had asked for AOB, one black student “jocularly” asked for permission to sit under the “white” tree. The principal said the school does not regulate who sits where and that he was free to do so. So a few black kids went and sat under the tree.

Next day there were three nooses hanging from the tree. In the three different colours of the school. You know what that symbolizes. Nooses from trees to symbolize lynchings—bands of whites used to kill blacks by hanging them from trees during America’s days of violent segregation and of slavery.

The blacks and the general student body were offended, naturally, and asked for an investigation. The culprits were found and given what some viewed as an overly lenient punishment. Three days internal suspension. This set the racial tension in the school to spark and it soon began to blow in explosions of violence around the school.

There were fights where blacks were attacked, and fights were whites were attacked. One such fight took place in December 4, 2006. A student, who had been heard saying something incendiary was ambushed and beaten down. Six  black boys kicked him with their sneakers while he was down. He was treated for concussion in hospital and released three hours later.

The six black kids who attacked him are the ones we call the Jena Six. They were charged with attempted murder and tried as adults. This September we find out whether they are going to spend the rest of their lives in jail.

update: The courts.

Advertisements