Coffee Rhetoric: Re-birth of a Nation

September 08, 2007

Re-birth of a Nation

"the greatest americans have not been born yet they are waiting patiently for the past to die. please give blood" -Saul Williams
During the summer of August 9, 2006 in Sound Beach on Long Island, a heated confrontation at a party- (where he was accused of threatening to rape a young white girl some months prior to the summer celebration)- prompted Aaron White, a 19 year old Black teenager to leave sans argument, after it was demanded that he do so. On his way home (nearby Miller Place, a predominantly white community), Aaron exchanged a series of angry cell phone calls with 17 year old Daniel Cicciaro, who alerted Aaron White that he was coming to his home. Drunk, Mr. Cicciaro with four of his friends in tow (all white), proceeded on with the threat of their presence. All five angry teenagers pulled up in front of the Whites' residence in two cars shortly after 11pm and were greeted by Aaron White and his father, John White via the garage. Father and son felt threatened enough to arm themselves for the impending showdown. Yelling ensued, in which Cicciaro and friends allegedly hurled racial epithets and refused to leave. At some point during the melee, Mr. White (father) shoots Daniel Cicciaro in the face with an antique handgun he inherited from his own grandfather. Daniel Cicciaro is felled by the gunshot, and is announced dead upon arrival to the emergency room. John White- who moved his family to their dream home on the North Shore in 2004- is described as a harding working "upstanding citizen" with no prior police record and who has never committed a crime in his life. He expressed deep regret and sorrow toward the Cicciaro family, claiming the incident was an "accident' and that he never meant to shoot the young man. That his only intent was to protect his family and scare his son's pursuers away from his home. John White was charged with manslaughter and criminal weapon possession. Internet users would then blow online news forums up with hateful racial epithets upon hearing the father's fate. Including cries for John White to be hung from a tree. While the outcome of the altercation is tragic, indeed. Can one blame John White for protecting his family and his son? The teens were unarmed, yes. But alcohol, bravado, hate speech, anger... Perhaps Daniel would be alive today, if he and his friends hadn't tried to recreate some vigilante style style of revenge. It's purported that during the 911 call and the race to get young Daniel to the hospital, his friends were overheard (through the phone) spouting off even more contemptuous race rhetoric. ...
Miles away, in Jena, Louisiana racial tensions are also brewing. Reaching their peak on August 31, 2006 after a black male freshman asks the Jena High School principal if he could sit under the shade of the "white tree" (where most of the white students usually convened amongst themselves). The principal suggested that students could sit wherever they wanted to. Three white students disagreed however, because the next morning three nooses were found hanging from that very same tree. The three students were later found to be guilty of the infraction and were up for expulsion... which the school board and superintendent promptly overruled. The superintendent would later trivialize the threat as a joke, as opposed to a threat against Black students' sensibilities. The school administration would later fail to report the incident to the police or the FBI (such brazen incidents can and should be reported as a Hate Crime). The decision and subsequent indifference would cause racial animus to reach a fever pitch. A series of disagreements, racially charged fights, and arson would soon occur over the course of three months. Black students would continue to grow disenchanted and slighted by the school's administration and local law officials. These disagreements would eventually culminate in the assault of a 17 year old white student named Justin Barker, perpetrated by 6 Black Jena High School students: Robert Bailey, Mychal Bell, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, Theo Shaw, and an unidentified minor. Barker allegedly hurled racial epithets, a charge his family denies. Barker was taken to the hospital and treated for a concussion, bruising, and various other injuries and released two hours later, in time for a ring ceremony. The Jena Six, however were arrested and charged with aggravated assault. The overzealous District Attorney would then decide to increase the charge to attempted second degree murder which could result in the defendants being imprisoned past age 50. This blow prompted outrage from the Black residents of Jena, because the charges were disproportionate to the crime. On June 26, Bell's sentence would be reduced to aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated second-degree battery. According to my research, a deadly weapon would've needed to be used, to warrant being charged with such. The DA argued that Mychal Bell's tennis shoes he wore during the day of the assault and kicked Barker with, were deadly weapons. The all white jury agreed. The other defendants' charges would eventually be reduced, leaving Mychal Bell to remain in jail, facing 22 years in prison. All are waiting for their day in court, which will happen later this month. So many conflicting accounts and mishandling of this case. The public outcry and online groups supporting the Jena Six are warranted. The case has garnered national attention and has drawn the ire and support of black leaders and organizations. Jena's Black community are skeptical that the boys will receive a fair trial. I mean after all, their wariness is justified considering the glaring segregation and aloof attitudes toward the "noose" incident. The Jena Six should indeed pay if they assaulted Justin Barker. But they should pay with a sentence that matches the crime. Most murderers and repeat sexual molesters get off with with less time. How much responsibility do Jena High School administrators bear, by deciding not to address the root cause of the issue to begin with? They, in essence, instigated a terrible situation by choosing not acknowledge it. A prank is stealing the school mascot or T.P.ing the halls. Hanging nooses, racially charged graffiti, and the like are not mere pranks. It's hateful propaganda that has no place in the school system or anyplace else... not in this day and age. It's frustrating that in 2007, issues of race still abound. Technology, the current cult of personalities, media, and celebrity help exacerbate hateful language and inane rhetoric. The structure of most institutions and a dubious this White House administration continue to disadvantage many ethnic groups by fanning the flames of xenophobia, racial profiling, and not accepting that we're in the midst of the 21st century! A multicultural era, where we should be evolved by now. Instead, we're slowly regressing. Most of us are still scratching our heads over the outcome of Hurricane Katrina. As much as I'd like to think we'll reach some sort of resolution on race matters, the fact is, I don't think there will ever be a workable medium. Period. That would require cooperation from the powers that be. That would require those same powers that be, to relinquish some semblance of control by distributing justice and equality fairly and accordingly. Fat chance of that ever happening. Divide and then conquer. The most antiquated (and seemingly effective) method in the book. ... Why do hate and growing racial disparities still continue thrive and fester? The Jena Six deserve a fair trial plain and simple, and are being railroaded. P.S. I'm dying to hear Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly weigh-in on the Jena Six situation, if they haven't already.