[Needless to say long standing prejudices die hard.  Anthony Appiah drew the useful distinction between “extrinsic racism” which can be corrected by factual information and “intrinsic” which resists because it is linked to the identities and interests of those manifesting it:


The Jena case which involved a school yard fight (something most of us who went to public schools have experienced) over nooses hung from a tree traditionally restricted to whites taking cover from the sun when some African American students had the temerity to pause there.  The lengthy prison sentences attempted by a racist local prosecutor have hopefully been squelched by massive public protests by human and civil rights organizations — but let us never forget that most such instances of prejudicial judicial abuses go unreported.  Ed Kent]


‘Jena 6’ teen seeks bail as race roils rural Louisiana case


Monday, September 17th 2007, 4:00 AM

All eyes in a feud that has split blacks and whites in a rural Louisiana town will be on a courtroom today where one of the black youths dubbed “The Jena Six” will ask for freedom.

Mychal Bell, 16, the last of six black teens still in jail for assaulting a white youth, will request to be released on bail after an appeals court Friday tossed his conviction by an all-white jury. The court ruled Bell should have never been tried as an adult. Bell, the only one of the six to be tried, was facing a 15-year sentence.

Prosecutor Reed Walters is now threatening to try Bell as a juvenile. Regardless of what happens, civil rights leaders plan to descend on the tiny town of Jena on Thursday.

“This kind of thing could be happening in a lot of places,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said yesterday, vowing to lead the Jena protest. “We in civil rights have the responsibility to speak up, no matter how small a town it is.”

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) told an NAACP banquet Saturday that the case illustrates that the “scales of justice are seriously out of balance” for black Americans.

“There is no excuse for the way the legal system treated those young people,” the Democratic presidential candidate said.

Bell and five football teammates were initially charged with attempted murder in the 2006 assault on 17-year-old white student Justin Barker. The incident stemmed from racial tension in the community arising from black students sitting under a shady oak that white students had dubbed the White Tree.

Fights broke out among students and a mysterious fire erupted at the high school after three nooses appeared in the tree.

When a black student, Robert Bailey, 17, was beaten by whites at a party, one man charged with breaking a bottle over the victim’s head was given probation.

Bailey, Bell, Carwin Jones, 18; Theo Shaw, 17; Bryant Purvis, 17, and Jesse Ray Beard, 16, were charged with attempted murder for beating Barker after he was overheard crowing about Bailey’s beating.

The tree has since been cut down.


Ed Kent  212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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