High school controversy brings racism to light

Marchae Grair

A prank and its aftermath at a Louisiana high school have many people examining the consequences of ignoring racism.

Jena High School has been on a downward spiral since a racially-charged incident occurred there in September 2006.

Problems started after black students sat under an oak tree that was a hangout for white students. When the black students came to school the following day, they found three nooses hanging from the oak tree, according to CNN.com.

Three white students were suspended for three days because of the incident,

determined “a prank,” and race has been a source

of argument and violence at the school since.

The controversy surrounding this school has reached its peak because of a trial centered on a race-related fight.

Four months later, six black students from Jena allegedly jumped a white student who became unconscious during the attack, but was released from the hospital that day. The black students say they are innocent; some say they weren’t at the scene. The six students, known to civil rights activists as “the Jena Six,” were arrested and charged with attempted murder.

The weapon they’re accused of using?


Mychal Bell, the only student from the Jena Six who has been to court, faces 22 years in prison for second-degree aggravated battery.

The town’s race relations have disintegrated. The fairness of Bell’s trial is also in

question because he was convicted by an all-white jury and represented by a public

defender who never called a witness.

For those who say racism doesn’t exist, look no further than Jena High School. I am baffled by the injustice of Bell’s trial, the

corruption in this school and the negligence of the media for waiting to address this story until this year.

For the sake of their town and themselves, I hope the three boys who played this “joke” learned their lessons.

Shame on the administration at Jena High School for deeming this controversy a prank. I consider pranks harmless, and this action was anything but that.

A prank revolving around racism is not and never will be funny.

What did those black students feel when they arrived at school to see a weapon used to kill their ancestors?

Last September, those black students saw more than nooses on a tree. They relived every time they’ve been discriminated against because of their race. They heard the voices of every person who has ever called them by a racial slur. They remembered every time they’ve been trailed in a store for being black.

Experiencing racism creates a black hole in the heart that never goes away. It is never funny to be singled out. It is never funny to feel threatened or intimidated.

What does it take for people to understand the effects of racism? How much violence does it take to get America’s attention?

Does it take the casualty of boy like Mychal Bell? This teen may lose 22 years of his life because he’s fighting a war that’s not his.

Racism is society’s problem, but society won’t solve it.

We refuse to listen to each other. We refuse to love one another. We refuse to understand one another.

The largest step in battling racism in America is realizing that the battle against it has just begun.

Marchae Grair is a sophomore journalism major and columnist and editorial writer for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].