Jena Six: A 1960s example of racism in 2007 - Jaya Franklin

I often hear people say that racism is behind us. Some people feel that it is done and over with.

Some believe that it no longer happens. Those people are living inside of a box.

In the past two months I have heard about several cases of racism in the news. One is nearly a year old but for some reason, it has just begun to surface in the news.

According to reports, the situation all started when three white students hung nooses on a tree at Jena High School in Jena, La., where a black student sat the day before. Those students were suspended, but that wasn't the end of this ridiculous episode. Later on, six black students were arrested for beating up a white student.

It's sad that the same thing that my great-grandparents fought nearly 50 years ago is still alive and well, especially in the South. Five of the six students were charged as adults, with attempted second-degree murder, but later on, charges against three of them were reduced to aggravated second-degree battery.

A newspaper article states that the victim in the fight was sent to the hospital, released and attended a school event the same night as the attack.

Regardless, if the student was released from the hospital and was well enough to attend school the next day, six people shouldn't fight against one person. I think that's crazy and unfair. But at the same time, it makes no sense to suspend the white students for hanging nooses on a tree but when it comes to the black students, they are sitting in jail and facing serious time.

Some people may not take the fact that the children hung nooses on a tree seriously.

But, a noose is a horrific symbol of hatred and prejudice. It represents all the people who suffered at the hands of slave masters. When I see a noose on TV or in a movie, I become angry, and my mind goes back to all the stories I was told by my great-grandmother and all of the books that I've read about this horrible time in the life of blacks.

Mychal Bell is one of the students included in this highly-controversial case. He will be sentenced on Sept. 20, and he could face up to 15 years in prison.

This whole situation bothers me. I think about it every day. I have heard about other incidents occurring in this small town, and they are all centered around black-and-white issues. It's a shame that justice isn't being served and people are still having to deal with some of the same things that great black leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton fought against and unfortunately are still fighting. This just further validates the saying that history repeats itself ... constantly.