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February 22, 2024

  • Danez Smith at AWP
    Richard Saker/Contour by Getty Images As we end Black History Month, here is one of my favorite poets, Danez Smith, who writes on intersectionality between their Black and Queer identities. At the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Kansas City, MO, I had the opportunity to personally meet Smith, and they are […]
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    Lauren Slater crafts diligent, depictive metaphors in narrative, and I hate her writing, simultaneously. Should there be lying in memoir? In her book, Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir (2000), Slater crafts lies from epilepsy to nunneries to doctor visits and proposed peer reviewed theses to AA meetings. However, within these lies, she allows us to question […]
Spring Housing Guide

In Jena, not all has gone wrong

While there are undoubtedly some things in Jena, La. that need to be fixed, many are using the facts to promote their own agenda and paint a far different picture than what really is. And like with any other thing in the media that happens to be racial in nature, there is always more to the story. Simply believing a group because they say so is ignorant. I believe that the real problem is that there are a number of half truths being used to cast the entire event into doubt, more specifically the trial of Mychal Bell.

First of all, let us consider the whole “found guilty by an all-white jury” claim. Yes the jury was all white, but do any of you know why it was that way? Some would rather not point out the facts that LaSalle Parish (where Jena is located) is 86.13 percent white according to the 2000 Census.

That alone means that the chances of whites being picked over blacks is huge to start with. Could it be that probability played a part in the jury selection instead or racism? Or would it be more acceptable for fact to show that out of the all the randomly selected potential jurors the only ones that showed up were white. According to a Sept. 22 Associated Press report, an investigation into the potential jury list showed that there were, in fact, blacks who were on the list, but did not show up for jury duty.

On June 29, the Chicago Tribune reported that Mychal Bell’s public defender, who himself is black, did not have a problem with the jury and did not call any witnesses on the defense’s behalf. Could it be that his counsel was incompetent or was it that that he knew everything in the trial was legal?

As for bail being denied to Bell, would the fact that he had been put on probation for two counts of criminal damage to property shed any light on some of the opinions that are floating around? According to the Shreveport Times, Bell was on probation until Jan. 18, 2008.

Now if anyone in Bowling Green is on probation for two crimes, how do you think the courts up here would react if they then found out you were arrested for a violent crime? He was treated no differently than any of us would have been.

Still feel like he was railroaded by the system? Or do the facts now seem like a legal application of the law that was twisted into racially tenuous facts simply to draw attention to a perfectly legal process.

As for the nooses, “White Tree” incident, the convenience store, fair barn, the fire in Jena High School; these are the issues that should be looked at and then judged after you look at each individual event, and then try to connect the dots.

My whole point is that there have been wrongs committed, but the trial is not one of them. Rather the focus should be on the incidents leading up to the now-famous assault on Justin Baker, not the last act itself.

There is always more to a story than both sides are willing to admit, and as responsible adults it is your job to not believe either side just because they say that they have all the facts. In all honesty, I hope that you doubt me and my facts and go out and do some of your own research and come up with your own educated opinions and not take someone’s word for it.

Sean Martin is a senior majoring in political science and history. Send responses to his column to [email protected].

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