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Racism alive in America

By Denebola
Published: October 2007
By Hannah Scharlin-PetteeIn Jena, Louisiana last December, six African-American boys were arrested for attempted murder of a Caucasian peer. At Jena High School of Louisiana, a student brought up the idea of black kids sitting under the “White Tree, a spot where many white students often sat. Upon hearing the remark, three white students hung nooses from the tree, a symbol associated with the lynching of African-Americans in the late 1800′s to mid 1900′s.
The students were suspended, but the issue remained unresolved. Later, fights about the issue broke out in the school and six black students were provoked into beating up a white peer and were then arrested.
Although all were merely teenagers, five of the six accused were tried as adults. One, Mychal Bell, was convicted of aggravated second-degree battery, although luckily the court overturned the decision.
The case of the “Jena Six, as the boys became known caused a civil outrage’€thousands marched to Jena on September 20, showing their support for the six boys. The case raised a number of issues, among them how the Southern court system is tainted by prejudice.
More importantly, the case unearthed a serious problem that remains significant even today, almost 150 after Lincoln abolished slavery in the United States: racism against African-Americans is alive in the United States, but not just in the South.
America’s history is riddled with prejudice’€beginning from the colonies all the way to our modern day and age. There is a noted wealth gap between white and black Americans. As of 2006, over 800 hate groups exist in the US, as counted by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project.
The Jena Six case is simply another example of how racism still exists in American society. Even in Newton, the presence of racism can still be felt.
“Racism is worse in Newton [than in Boston]¦I have a tendency to notice the wealth gap. White people tend to have bigger houses, and get more opportunity, junior Barry Cooley said. “It has a lot to do with ‘Ëœold money,’ when money is passed down in white families.
But sophomore Nalis Mbiande disagrees.
“At Newton South I don’t see any racism. No one has ever acted racist to me, but I feel like black people get judged a lot’€like if something bad happens, they will assume it’s the other race’s fault, Mbiaande said.
Junior Jerry Anderson noted a similar attitude in the classrooms. “Sometimes at school, black kids get treated differently. Teachers will be more lenient with white kids, Anderson said.
The majority of students at Newton South are white. So what can we do to make the community a safer, more tolerant place for members of different races?
“We usually stick to ourselves¦if you don’t say anything [to us], we won’t say anything [to you], Anderson said.
Racism takes the form of social immobility at South. Instead of the “n-word being abused by white kids, there is a clear class division among races, due to an unfair system, a direct result of historical events. Cooley observed, however, that black students use the “n-word more often than white kids.
“I don’t condone the ‘Ëœn-word’ whatsoever, said Cooley.
“I don’t really use the ‘Ëœn-word”€not at all! I don’t like hearing it. It’s hypocritical [that black kids use it and expect white kids not to]. It’s the same thing if your parents tell you not to smoke, and they smoke, Mbiande said.
Whether in Jena, Louisiana, or in Newton, Massachusetts, racism is alive, and it is up to the community to make it a thing of the past.

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