Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Where have you been?
Jena 6 is News!

Being informed and aware of what’s going on in the world, not just in the United States, is not only critical it is essential for creating some level of compassion and understanding for other cultures. On too many occasions the average American has no clue what is going on in Tonga, Armenia, and/or Burkina Faso. Even the countries I have listed are really foreign to some readers. We all know about Iraq. How could we not know of the place that the Bush administration claims is the single most source of Jihad development in the world? Either he and his pack of loyal White House soldiers are complete idiots or they are significantly misguided by the intelligence. What do you think? Stop! Don’t call your president an idiot! I personally believe the illegal immigrant extremist and regular American fanatics, the Timothy McFaye-types, are already here living among us plotting their next attack. They are in the coffee shops, in our churches, and teaching in our schools. But, who am I? This opinionated black man doesn’t know anything.

The one thing I do know is consuming the news in any form is extremely important. Time and time again I hear my fellow brothas and sistas boasting with pride, “I ain’t watching no news. It is depressing.” This infuriates me because for one this means those folk will not be informed and two it indicates or suggests that these folk’s world is small. Small in the sense that their lives probably consist of home and work without any outside educational stimuli such as what Soledad O'Brien, Christiane Amanpour, Roland Martin, and Gloria Vanderbilt’s son, Anderson Cooper, is sharing with the world. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with this approach of therapeutically shielding the mind and spirit from what many call negativity.

Yes, the news is unpleasant and completely taxing – but it is REALITY. Not in-taking the news worthy events of the day via the internet, television, or radio regulates one to the other line. That line with people in it that are saying, ‘Why isn’t the news carrying the Jena 6 story?’ If you are reading this and whispering to yourself, ‘Jena 6? I don’t know what this brotha is talking about.’ you are in that uninformed line. (http://www.whileseated.org/photo/003244.shtml) Please don’t feel bad about being in that line because for weeks our only source for meaningful black talk radio, Grown Folks Radio, was in that line too. However, I am pleased to report that this socially conscious radio station is actively working with leaders throughout the nation now to expose to the world what’s going on in Jena, Louisiana. Their work has lead to our very own, Reverend Al Sharpton, to get involved. I am so thankful we have a man with a perm working on our behalf! Perm or not, Reverend Al is on the front lines like a TRUE soldier without a White House.

What am I to say about this travesty of justice that Al and others have not said? They really have covered every angle of this story, so again I ask - what am I to say without repetitiously whining? Many have emailed me to ask, ‘Muata, why don’t you focus on what white folk are doing to us, like what they are doing to Mychal Bell (one of the Jena 6), rather than pointing out our deficiencies?’ Deficiencies? Interesting. I can respect that request. Therefore, I do have this re-fried rhetoric for you. But, before I begin my liturgy of insight let me inform the uninformed that the Georgia state attorney in the Genarlow Wilson case who has the power to free Mr. Wilson is BLACK. Deficiencies??

Rhetoric:

They don’t care about us, and when they get an opportunity to lock-up another black man they will. Being innocent is not a factor for them. They believe we are guilty already of something. That something is being BLACK. The one thing most of us cannot shake is our blackness. We have to live with being black in this world. Not that it has been a problem for me. No, it is a problem for the white people who have yet to address their hearts. I have plenty of white friends who are genuine, but the one thing I believe that they have done: Changed their hearts which means their concern for the black plight is authentic. These are the white folk who join the Peace Corps, and end up serving in Zambia or some other ‘dark’ place.

Those young black men who are surely going to be jailed for a long time down there in that small rural town are causalities of war. That war that is waged day in and day out in America against the black man. But, what are we to do? Protest. March. I am for that! At least when this occurs black people are out in numbers on one accord, with one mission, and not divided. Actually, it is a beautiful thing to witness.

Black folk have been a witness to a lot in America. For some, life is remarkably good and for others life is a bad dream. Too many of us are living nightmares when it was not supposed to be this way. We thought after integration that things would be better. (I laughed as I typed that sentence). “Better”. There have been countless inroads and accomplishments. I recognize this. But, for some reason the Jena 6 story has taken up at least four full pages in Time magazine. It has even been mentioned in the black magazines we (black folk) surely read or glance through e.g. Ebony, Essence, Jet, and Vibe. So much for it not being in the news.

Has America truly evolved? We have everything at our disposal. Everything! We lead the world in so many areas. Unfortunately, that one area that we continue to struggle with is race relations. And, the reason I believe America has this problem: Too many white people have yet to appropriately change their hearts regarding blacks, Mexicans, Asians, and those other naturally tanned folk. What do I mean by change their hearts? Well, a white man can eat chitterlings, drink Milwaukee's Best, and watch those black bucks run up and down a field with a black man - but don’t let that black man’s son push-up on white man’s daughter. All hell will break loose! No mo pig guts eatin’ and no mo cheap beer drinking together. Back to the days prior to the late sixties we will go!

As a matter of ‘heart’ fact, this is where most Americans are anyway: the 19th century without the progressive change agency mentality. It is evident in the way black folk respond to Jena 6-type events: We will not strategically and collectively mobilize in numbers. Why? Probably because Jena 6 has not entered their minds via the news. Remember, “I ain’t watching no news!” And, finally it is definitely evident we are still in the past considering the way the White Man’s judicial system is ripping a part the life of Mr. Black Man. Nonetheless, please be informed that some white people including black people believe the black man is solely responsible for leading the nation in prison inmate status: Locked-up! I didn’t have to watch the news for that piece of information.

As I concluded this commentary, I felt a huge sense of emptiness. Did I make a difference with your thinking? What I have conveyed has been said over and over again. I know. It is my re-fried spin on not only the lingering opinions of the Jena 6 story, but the state of race affairs in America.

When will I and others get full? Full of change. Full of a difference being made. Not in my lifetime? Not in my lifetime is depressing to read and hear considering my mother and her mother said the same thing back in that newsworthy 19th century.

http://www.naacp.org/get-involved/activism/alerts/110aa-2007-7-20/index.htm

Written by Muata. Inspired by all the emails I received requesting me to respond. I hope I satisfied you.

11 comments:

Muata said...

Reader Response"

It really is amazing to me how the Michael Vick story makes news over the Jena Six story every single day. Where are the people standing up for the rights of these victims? Why aren't the people protesting in droves over the injustice to these kids? Why is this story just now really getting out? It's sad that we put so much energy in the MV story, when these kids are suffering and still living with the injustice to them.

It's ashamed that the "injustice" to dogs is more news-worthy and horrific than the injustice to black teenagers. What if the roles were reversed in the Jena 6 story? What if the White students were sentenced to prison for attempted murder? What would the media be covering? What if Brett Favre was accused of the same crime as Michael Vick? Would the media and fans be so quick to send him to prison? Would he be considered to be a horrible person?

We have to face the facts. It's a Black, White, and Mexican World!

-AJ

Muata said...

Readers Respond:

i just read your commentary. it was a good read. i am familiar with the story. i 'm glad you added the disclaimer that you had to laugh after you wrote the sentence about thinking that things would get better for black folks after integration. i think integration was one of the worse things to ever happen to us. we stopped creating, maintaining, and supporting our own businesses. stopped being self sufficient and self reliant. i think integration was a disaster, and today we sit back all integrated with a little less might and less knowledge of our history. it's sad to me and i don't know that it can be reversed at this point. i see how far astray we've gone in these kids i teach. i see it in their eyes. some of them are so empty at an age where they should be so full of something resilient. but if course, that's another story--got a commentary for that? sometimes i think our people are so fucked up and backwards, but i still hold on tight. it's like trying to make a dollar outta fifteen cents. it's a hard hustle, but i'm trying to do my part. it seems you are, too.

-N

Good topic, I will keep this response short and sweet. In the words of the late great Malcom X, the only way we will get our just due is to a full, all-out revolution in the United States of America. This will mean casualties and mammoth sacrifices. Some of us think we have it too good, therefore, not willing to shed blood or die for freedom. No one is going to give you anything, you have to take it!

-EA

Listening to Michael Bell's dad on the Steve Harvey Morning Show brought tears to my eyes. Imagining my son behind bars knowing I couldn't help him.

-PM

Muata said...

Reader Response:

Listen up good people!

It’s time to ride out!! Not to party but to take a stand! By now each of you should have received some communication about the six young black men facing a prison sentence of 22 yrs to LIFE for a fight with white students that had been taunting them with racial slurs and nooses hanging from a tree!! Check out the following link to get up to speed! http://www.colorofchange.org/jena/main.html

Everybody has commentary on it but it’s time to move towards ACTION. I’m angry about it and can sit no longer! I’m riding out and will be in Jena, LA on September 20th. I’m calling for all people of good conscious to join us as well, African/African-American, Latino, Asian, Caucasian, Cablasian or whatever you want to call yourself! This injustice should strike a cord w/ every human being!!

We’re about to organize a movement to allow others here in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex to join us by auto (5.5 hrs from DFW) or plane. Stay tuned to the radio, email, and other media outlets for I’ll be sending out additional detail as they become available (lodging, bus, etc.) for those traveling from Dallas. Let’s start a caravan from coast to coast! If there’s nothing being planned coming from your city then call up your pastor or other community leaders and get it going!!

Begin to request the day off, map quest, check out flights/hotels, get your crew ready to make it a classic “road trip”…plan TODAY to join us on September 20th in Jena, LA!!

Let’s remember the struggle led by our ancestors and “Get up, stand up! Stand up for our rights! Get up, stand up! Don't give up the fight!”

No justice, No Peace!

-KM

Muata said...

Reader Response:

You're right it's depressing...and I have decided to attempt to remove the depressing from my life. I (naive as I may be called) have decided that what you have faith in really does come to pass and as such I have made up my mind to have faith in what is good in this world. Not to ignore the bad, but to begin to look at situations from the vantage point of 'what good thing could and/or has come out of it,' as opposed to 'how fucked up we are handling it '(yes I cursed take my membership card to the 'Lady's Club' ;-)
I think the fact that so many of us know about and are pissed off about Jena 6 is proof that we (as a group) aren't apathetic or lazy or ungrateful for the strides of our forefathers and mothers. Especially considering the fact that the main stream media still isn't addressing it. If we don't know about international news maybe that's because we are sufficiently distracted and perhaps overwhelmed with our day to day lives. After all what assistance can one really offer Burkina Faso despite what they may know, if they are struggling to put food on their own table? Do what you can do, what you know to do, and give the rest to God. I'm sure you've heard that before...?

My point, dear sir, is this: Could you please send me a link to your blog so that I can read it at my leisure and when my fragile positive mindset can handle it; and remove me from the automatic mailing list? If I can't find a way to focus on the positive as opposed to the negative while teaching these kids, then our future is truly as bleak as you suppose.....

-MP

Muata said...

Reader Response:

This is an awful story. A friend and I were discussing this story a couple of days ago. These are times when the NACCP and the African-American community as a whole need to stand up and becoming involved more than ever. This story is nothing more than a modern day slavery/civil rights issue. The NACCP should have pressure the District Attorney Office to move this and all related trials to another location. There is no way that these children will be able to receive a fair trial. Also the NACCP should provide legal counsel for these young men. The families of these children probably do not have the financial funding to effort the type of counsel that they so desperately need. We as blacks need to pray more and come together to help provide a safer and fairer society for our young people through education, financial empowerment, and culture awareness. As I always say, racism is still alive and running rampant throughout the USA.

-AG

Muata said...

Reader (Anonymous) Responds:

And if I had more time I'd respond more to your comments about people not watching the news. In general I'd say that your opinion sounded pretty judgmental, but it is your opinion. I don't watch the news as I am convinced that what I let into my subconscious is what forms the experiences in my life... I think I shared this before. I am very selective as to what I let my subconscious absorb. Also, considering I cannot do much about much of the tragedy that is blasted on the news minute by minute, I choose the
ways that I can help make this world a better place by volunteering my time and donating the money that I have to causes that I feel I can indeed help. I do find out about issues like this one from people like you and others so I don't need to rely on the negative, racist, hell bent on finding the most fear ridden approach to news media to get what is going on in the world. Hence I am able to avoid ingesting those horror stories as I wake at 7:00 a.m., eat at noon and go to sleep at 11:00.

-Anonymous

Muata said...

Muata responds to Anonymous:

"judgmental" - was not trying to be. stating my beliefs. and my beliefs are pretty much accurate on this one. well, the watching of the news among black folk. i can remember my mother and grandmother telling me, "brian, make sure you read the paper every day and watch the news." we sat down as a family back in the 70's and 80's and watched the world news together. i appreciated that mandate from them. it broaden my horizons and made me a more "worldly" person. thus the reason i probably joined the peace corps.

my commentaries can be viewed in various ways. what i have noticed is that when i am speaking on something that 'hits home' people begin to get uncomfortable, and accuse me of being judgmental or overly pointing out black "self-induced problems". i am not doing either. i want to challenge people. motivate people. encourage them with a vehicle that is stingy and sour at times. it is working. it is evident the typical methods of motivating us is not working. i plan to be in the face of black people. we can't continue to have this weak approach toward encouraging each other to do more with themselves which will hopefully lead to empowerment.

i would like to believe that judgmental could be mistaken for doing what our ancestors did: they made sure we all were accountable. if this meant sounding judgmental they did it anyway.

my intentions are sincere. not that you question them, but i have discovered that i am more mis-understood than understood.

-Muata

Muata said...

Anonymous responds to Muata:

By no means do I doubt your sincerity and in addition to loving the debate, I admire your willingness to stand up for your beliefs. I like to do the same. I do think though that along with a lot that is "not quite right" in this world certainly among them is putting others down for what they believe as if any of us have the "right" answer to a perfect way of being. That to me is judgment. You can do you and I can do me and still not physically or verbally denounce the other. There is too much of that going around. I choose not to allow the world to scare the crap out of me every time I turn on the t.v. or read the paper. That I call choice. We are all entitled to it. Would you make it a law that everyone watched the news ... no... some things are okay for people to make up their own minds about. 'nuff said on that one.

-Anonymous

FREEDOM said...

A Response from Freedom:

Excellent! You did a great job re-visiting this topic.

As my mind wonders back to the book “Biko,” by Donald Woods, which gives an account of “The true story of the young South African martyr (Bantu Stephen “Steve” Biko) and his struggle to RAISE BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS”. It is clear to ALL whom read your writings that the mode behind your declaration is indeed to “RAISE BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS”. And, with this piece white consciousness as well.

The Rise of Black Consciousness according to Steve Biko and His Associates:

“The idea behind Black Consciousness was to break away almost entirely from past black attitudes to the liberation struggle and to set a new style of self-reliance and dignity for blacks as a psychological attitude leading to new initiatives…..
To elevate the level of consciousness of the black community by promoting black awareness, pride, achievement and capabilities. In the long run this will prove far more valuable than the sentimental and idealistic attitude of perpetually trying to “bridge the gap” between races…...
To ask the right questions, to encourage a new consciousness, and to suggest new forms which express it, are the basic purposes of our new direction…...
Black Consciousness can therefore be seen as a stage preceding any invasion, any abolition of the ego by desire: The first step, therefore, is to make the black man see himself, to pump life into his empty shell; to infuse him with pride and dignity, to remind him of his complicity in the crime of allowing himself to be misused and therefore letting evil reign supreme in the country of his birth.”

“Biko” is indeed a great read! Check it out if you haven’t.

Unfortunately, “On August 18, 1977, Steve Biko at the age of thirty was taken into custody by security police. Six days later he was dead”.

Just another note of a fallen leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated at the age of 39.

The thirties used to seem so old to me, but now since I am “pushing-up” on two and thirty it is amazing to me how young these great leaders were.

Muata/Brian, THANK YOU for doing what you believe is your part in the struggle to ‘”RAISE BLACK CONSCIOUNESS”. “Power to the People…….Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”.

God Bless Your SOUL!

-FREEDOM

FREEDOM said...

Freedom gives another excerpt from the book “Biko” in the effort to “RAISE BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS”:

"I am not a potentiality of something,” writes Fanon. “I am wholly what I am. I do not have to look for the universal. No probability has any place inside me. My negro consciousness does not hold itself out as black. It IS. It is its own follower. This all that we blacks are after. TO BE. We believe that we are quite efficient in handling our BEness and for this purpose we are self-sufficient. We shall never find our goals and aspirations as a people centered anywhere else but in US. This, therefore, necessitates a self-examination and a rediscovery of ourselves. Blacks can no longer afford to be led and dominated by nonblacks”.

FREEDOM said...

Freedom Gives One Final Comment about the Life of Steve Biko and His Efforts to “Raise Black Consciousness”:

If you cannot get your hands on the book, “Biko” right now, then check out the film “Cry Freedom”. The film “Cry Freedom” is based on the true story of Steve Biko’s life. The film is truly a treat to watch especially for women since Denzel Washington is starring as Steve Biko.

Before Malcolm X, Denzel Washington gives an outstanding performance as recounting the life of this phenomenal young black man “Steve Biko” highlighting his part in the struggle to “Raise Black Consciousness”.

Kevin Kline also gives an excellent performance starring as Donald Woods a journalist and newspaper editor who misunderstood Biko at first, but while spending time with him he began to understand Biko’s plight in the effort to “Raise Black Consciousness” for his people.

By spending time in each other’s company, Biko and Woods became close friends, regardless of the fact that Biko was black and Woods was white in a time when APARTHEID reigned supreme as the culprit of crippling black South Africans. By finally understanding one another and having the opportunity to spend some time in each other’s company Biko and Woods HEARTS changed. Thus, one of the greatest friendships and allies were formed.

Woods risked his life and the life of his family to write the manuscript “Biko” to expose to the world to “Black Consciousness” according to Biko and his associates and the struggle of South Africans to obtain FREEDOM. The book Biko was banned for several years, think God the ban was lifted. Today we ALL have a chance to read and study the book “Biko”.

God Bless ALL of Our HEARTS, MINDS & SOULS!!!

-FREEDOM