In case you haven't noticed, Black people are under full attack in this country. The Jena Six case is just another in a long line of travesties heaped upon Black people by our so-called criminal justice system. All over this country there are cases of gross injustice against Black people, so much so that we could conduct a march every week if we chose to deal with them all. Maybe that's the point: I wonder how many of those who went to Jena, La., have similar situations in their own cities. I also wonder if they have marched and protested in their own backyards about that injustice.
Let's put it right out there, brothers and sisters. Black folks are a mere afterthought in this country. The following is an excerpt from my book, "Black Empowerment With an Attitude — You Got a Problem With That?" Read it and think about our standing in the United States.
After our 'official' arrival in this land, in 1619, up until now, we have been overlooked, mistreated, denied access, used and abused, enslaved, auctioned off, whipped, branded, raped, lynched or otherwise murdered, unjustly incarcerated, corralled in urban centers and then destroyed by urban renewal, shot 27 times, 41 times, and 50 times by police officers, hosed down, bitten by dogs, beat down for trying to walk across a bridge, cheated by banks and insurance companies, used in wars, used as guinea pigs for medical experiments, denied the right to vote even after the 15th Amendment, excluded from economic development projects, paid less than white folks for doing the same jobs, denied employment and promotions, discriminated against at every turn, gerrymandered, firebombed, maced, tasered, choked, prodded in the rectum with a broomstick in the hands of police officers, abandoned to drown in the polluted and alligator infested water left in Katrina's wake.
William Mayo still sits in a Georgia prison after 15 years; it sure would be great to see 50,000 folks marching on his behalf and sending in money for his defense. Genarlow Wilson is still in jail too. A minister, Lennox Yearwood, was gang tackled by police outside a U.S. Congressional hearing room as he stood in line to get into a hearing on the Iraq war.They broke his leg. Fourteen year-old Shaquanda Cotton was thrown in prison for seven years for shoving a hall monitor.
A Black woman in Cincinnati was sent to jail without bond because a dead dog was found in her backyard, while a White woman was not even prosecuted for leaving her 2-year old daughter in her car for eight hours, where the temperature rose as high as 140 degrees. The baby died.
The White woman "forgot" her child, who died a horrible death, but instead of charging her with child neglect, the prosecutor said "it was mistake … an accident … she didn't mean to do it." Obviously, the "I forgot" defense does not work for Black folks.
We are at war with those who are supposed to protect and serve us, and we are at war with those among us who have succumbed to the death-grip of crime. What must our young children think about us, their parents? How do you think they feel about our failure to protect them from this madness?
Yes, we have Jena's all over this country. Let the marches begin everywhere. Let the collective work and responsibility begin. Stand up against injustice and crime wherever they exist, regardless of the perpetrators' skin color. Oh yeah, and let your dollars do the talking and the walking when it comes to dealing police brutality and discriminatory courts.
James Clingman is an author and founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce.