Friday, September 21, 2007

Is Jena 6 a "Watershed Moment"?

As a student of history I find the current events taking place more than interesting and I wanted to add some brief comments to the myriad views about the issue of race. I was involved in a lengthy discussion yesterday with several black men who said they would not march for Jena 6. Thus my comments speak not only to that understanding, but likely it can be extended to the need and utilization of activist scholarship. So for those who are committed to "not marching" please read (along with everyone else).

This time right now is a defining moment for us, as blackfolk and a nation. Not simply for Jena 6, but for those effected by Katrina, Mr. Genarlow Wilson, Mr. Sean Bell, the sister in West Virginia who was violently assaulted both (physically and sexually), and every instance of human rights violations against those decedents of transplanted Africans whose labor built this morally bankrupt republic.

There have been several defining or watershed moments in American history. August 28, 1963 has often been viewed as the watershed event of the civil rights movement, but there was "movement" happening both before and after the (2nd) March on Washington. I am drawn to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's last book, Where do we go from here, Chaos or Community? In this timeless text he reminds us that:

"Social action without education is a weak expression of pure energy. Deeds uninformed by educated thought can take false directions. When we go into action and confront our adversaries, we must be as armed with knowledge as they. Our policies should have the strength and deep analysis beneath them to be able to challenge the clever sophistries of our opponents"(155).

With that in mind, my push is toward sustainable solutions to the systemic problems caused by race, class, and gender. It is my hope that the so called black leadership that has converged in Jena is developing a program for movement in the most holistic since. Likewise I hope that those among the rank and file are not "waiting" for an edict from the likes of "Jesse" or "Rev. Al" to instruct them about what to do either. Dr. King NEVER got involved in protest...he was a proponent of movement and a symbol of movement as well. We are dealing with a sophisticated enemy and there is much at stake...the spirits and minds of our youth.

Moving forward we must remember the spirit of Frederick Douglass that cautions to us now, "power concedes nothing without a never has and it never will. Find out just what a people will submit to, and you have found the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted by words or blows, or with both...the limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress" (4 Aug1857).

In this moment we must prescribe to a consciousness that speaks and acts boldly to speak truth to power, and not be shackled by the chains of greed and fear. The power we seek rests solely with the people...the leaders are those who will not be afraid as Claude McKay wrote to "face the murderous, cowardly pack,Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You’re absolutely right. Now is the time, this present moment, for us as a black folk and a nation to stand up to/for EVERY instance where human rights are violated. It’s disheartening to see people, our people, and black organizations want to congregate together, wear a colored t-shirt in support, cry injustice, and march in front of cameras only when it’s a white on black offense or crime. If we believe, we BLACK FOLKS are human and not less of one then why are we not putting forth the same efforts when Darrel shoots Malik and serves no time or very little? Malik was an honor student on his way to college and all we can say is dang that was a shame. Had Darrel been white…we would be right next to poor Malik’s mother making the issue our very own. Your outcries, rants and raving fall upon death ears because “they heard it all before!” You get nowhere because your fight is out of bitterness and anger with no real desire for change for your own kind.

Ostrich folk, take your head out of the sand. Every human right violation against those decedents of transplanted Africans whose labor built this morally bankrupt republic - - is your issue, is your fight. Movement starts within self. Acknowledging the role you play in change beit good or bad and improving for the better. Stop turning a blind eye to your own communities because your life seems ok. Black on black offenses and crimes derives from the very same emotion prejudice and racism does. Movement involves daily work and strategic planning. To conquer an adversary you do not apply force with force. Know thy adversary! You attack with wit and ingenuity. The trajectory of black folk depends on this.

At a dinner party I was explaining to a fellow how I am the “necessary evil” on my block. I am part of community cleanup. I correct the nonsense around me with a chastising tongue because they are still impressionable children to me. Chastisement is love. This fellow’s response to my efforts was: Leaders die! What good are you dead?

What good am I alive if I am not advocating pride, respect, justice, knowledge and wisdom? Fear of death is vain. Fearing your life is in vain…well that evokes movement.

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Negrointellectual by Vernon C. Mitchell, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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