Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Jena 6: We Protest


We protest

We protest because the boys of Jena 6 and their families need to know they are not alone.

We protest because the Jena travesty is not about a nooses that were hung on a now-felled tree, but the noose of injustice that remains around the neck of Black America.

We protest because few people know "state-sponsored terrorism" like Blackfolk.

We protest because Jena is not a rural Southern town, it is a state of mind -- not from the 1950s, but of the here and now in every American town, suburb and city from South to North and sea to shining sea.

We protest because Jena exemplifies with such brutal clarity the racialization of crime in our society.

We protest because what happened in Jena is worthy of substantive national attention and action and OJ's most recent transgression is not.

We protest because the media we trust most are the media we control -- directly or indirectly -- traditional and digital alike.

We protest because society at-large needs to know that the American Dream will remain just that -- a dream -- without aggressively committing to the fight for racial justice long after Jena fades from the far too few headlines it has received compared to much lesser matters.

We protest because so often the Black accused are guilty before proven innocent, and the White accused (a la the Duke LaCross angels) so often are given the benefit of the doubt and relevant facts about their backgrounds are omitted to conform to the racial mythologies that serve the status quo.

We protest because we are moved to do so, not because any charismatic leader told us to do so.

We protest because we are following our our consciences, not polls.

We protest because we know that leaders do not draw crowds, crowds attract (more) leaders.

We protest because "we are the leaders we have been waiting for".

We protest because we know that large groups of organized Black people help disabuse our fellow Americans of any faulty notions of mass complacency in our communities.

We protest because we draw strength and comfort from the fact that just by showing up in unity behind the most humane and reasonable of missions represents one of the greatest perceived threats to so-called peace and the safety of the privileged and their property.

We protest because we believe in Frederick Douglass' salient words that "power concedes nothing without a demand" -- especially from an equal or greater power.

We protest because we believe that power, in the words of Dr. King, is "the ability to achieve purpose".

We protest because we believe that our leaders are not who corporate media say our leaders are, but those who speak up, stand up and organize when it is often inconvenient and unpopular to do so.

We protest because we know that this is an inter-generational struggle led by Blackfolk and inclusive of all who stand for justice irrespective of hue or heritage.

We protest because we believe -- and history has shown us -- that everyone has a role in the struggle for long-term social change.

We believe that "we" is whomever sees reflected in these words something that affirms or inspires them to act for the common good.

We protest not to beg, implore or seek permission or validation from those who fear us or abuse our trust, but to symbolize the work we have already done thus far and will continue to do when all the camera crews have left the scene to follow OJ or Paris Hilton.

We protest in peace for justice because America still knows neither, and the ghosts of Selma abound with every needless incarceration of our youth.

We protest on behalf of our boys and girls who have become society's poster-children for criminality and dysfunction because it is in our centuries-old tradition to resist all forces that have sought to cage our spirit, from the Middle Passage to Hurricane Katrina.

We protest because if not now, then when?

Chris Rabb on Friday, September 21, 2007

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