Morocco: Opinion on the Jena 6

Blogger Laila Lalami shares her opinion on the ongoing Jena 6 case in the United States.


  • heather

    I am from Louisiana but have never been to Jena. In fact, a few weeks ago, if someone had asked me “is there a place called Jena in Louisiana?” i would have said “I’m not sure.” Now, even the NY Times is doing articles on the supposed backwood Louisianians doing their Jim Crow thing, and basing it on a Jena, La. high school student incident. I really hate the stereotyping. First of all, i’d just like to say that racism exists everywhere. It’s not just a southern thing, or an American thing, and it’s a problem that is hard to fix, but necessary to strive for. I believe in equal rights for all, but think that this situation has been turned into a monster.

    I don’t pretend to know the details of the “Jena 6” case or the surrounding situation. All i know is that some nooses were hung on an oak tree, the students supposedly responsible were suspended, and later, six black boys beat up a white boy, sending him to the hospital. There’s supposedly a bunch of other racial altercations and threatening situations in the mix (and being thrown around as fact by journalists), but i think these main issues are enough to highlight what i mean to say.

    First of all, just to give you my perspective, if i was an administrator at a school and some kids hung up nooses, i’d probably suspend them if they had no prior behavior problems and keep a close eye on them afterwards. If six kids ganged up on and beat another kid badly, i’d turn it over to the police and let them take care of it as a bodily injury case.

    I am not trying to say that there was no racism or that the black students were not treated unfairly. I admit that it’s possible racial discrimination is involved, but it’s also possible that it isn’t. The truth is, we don’t know the truth. That possibility is one that should be kept in mind by reporters, and so far, all I’ve heard about is how terrible the south is for continuing to be a bunch of backwards, racist rednecks.

    Even though i know nothing of Jena or any more details about the case than what the media reports, i feel that i’ve been slapped in the face by stereotyping.

    I am surprised at how many people have taken bus trips from as far away as California to protest on suspicion of racism, and have been relying on rumor and journalistic hearsay to declare all of the deep South a bastion of hate. I’ve seen protesters suggest that everyone buy their food and water ahead of time so as not to give Jena any business. If that isn’t stereotyping everyone in the town and region (and assuming a lot), i don’t know what is.

    Overall, i understand how it would be nice for the average American to relegate racism to being a southern thing. Unfortunately, as much as we’d like it to be a black and white issue (no pun intended), it simply is not, and by painting the whole south as ignorant Jim Crowe-era racists, it serves to underline my point of how commonly people considered “others” are grouped in a stereotypical category to serve the needs of the majority. No, i would have to agree that prejudice doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

  • blk woman

    first, let me start by saying what the hanging of nooses represents for blk people it represents all the sensless deaths which occurred during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s many black people were hung for no reason at all they were hung for looking at white women, using the bathroom, drinking from a water fountain and so on you know petty things. Now I believe that the school administration could have stopped the situation before it got to this point. Let us flip the script and the roles were reversed do you think that the situation would have been the same. I am not saying that they don’t need to be punished for the actions that took place but let us be fair to me it looks like a school yard fight and the young man was not injured to the point that attempted murder charges should have brought. Let us start with the tree that apparently only the white students could only sit under why did a black student have to get permission from the princpal of the school to sit under the tree I have a real problem with that since we are stating it is a free country and we can just about do anything that we want to in this day and age. Now let us get to the nooses being hung from the tree what was the message behind that and from my understanding all of this had been cooking for awhile in that big old mess pot. Let us talk about were did the young men who hung the nooses get the idea from and do they even know what that action suggest. In my point of view someone had to teach them the meaning behind the noose hang and what it represents. The year is 2007 and it is sad to say that there are still some small mind that exist. The whole situation should have not even occured starting with a tree that only white children could sit under reminds me of the 60’s with white only bathrooms, water fountains and how we could not sit at the resturant counter that act along took us back at least 50 years lettin me know that nothing has changed. and for people to state that it is not a race issue let us again reflect on nooses being hung from a tree and what it represents that in itself is a racial act and again let us go back to the black children not sitting under the tree. Now, I don’t support violence but I believe that this situation could have been resolved earilier and not even have reached this point. And my last point that I would like to make let us get on the district attorney and his remarks. I want to know who are “those people” which he was refering to and the last that I knew I thought we all served the same GOD and the statement he made about his God being with those people I believe not sure how he put it but one could interpet his statement as a threat. Final point what do you expect in a town of 3000 or better and there are only about 350 black residents in the town let us just weigh that fact

  • Nina

    It is clear that skin color has everything to do with the sentence: An all white jury picked from an all white pool. Despite the fact that the african-american population is less than 30%, there should have been more of them in that initial jury pool.
    The DA should have NEVER been to the school, unless the Dept of Justice was involved. This is pure blackmailing a la White.
    If it was the other way around (which it is partially after the Saturday beating at the party), if the offenders were white, there would have been no intervention by the police forces or the DA office. If the victim was black, it would have gone unnoticed…like the many killings before.
    JENA 6 is a pure example of how Religion and Race are killing this country and driving it to the ground, with a commander in chief and an administration that believes in the White supremacy…a new Aerian era in America?
    God Help us and Help all those who are threatened for not being White or Christians.

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