I'm outing myself a bit here. I'm from Jena.
I wrote this as an email on September 19. Isent it to some friends who live out of state and thought I'd publish it here in case anyone still checks in on my blog. It's been pretty awful at times living here and knowing the truth. I've sat an watched news reports and couldn't believe the inaccuracies.
Thankfully the march came and went without incedent. The marchers were very gracious and nice, the people who live here were as well. It was nice to see that 15,000-20,000 people (more people than are in our entire parish) exercise their right to demonstrate. I take heart that it can be done without violence.
So for those of y'all still reading and checking in on me. Here's my email.
Thoughts on September 20
Tomorrow there will be more people in Jena than I ever thought possible.Weirdness and wonder.That's the two words that come to mind about tomorrow. I can't imagine what the day will bring, hence the wonder. I can't imagine that I sat on my floor and watched news anchor after news anchor talk about Jena, hence the weirdness.
I can't know what tomorrow will bring.
These are the things I DO know.
- The media has painted a rotten picture of us. I can't help but take it personally.
- I will never again wholly believe what I see on the evening news or read in the paper. Ever.
- I had to reassure my daughter that things will be ok tomorrow. I don't know for sure that they will be ok. I don't like feeling like I've lied to her.
- There ARE racists in this town. Thankfully, they are the minority.
- The boys accused of beating Justin Barker were NOT nice boys who made poor decisions that day. They are thugs. Ask their teachers. Ask their neighbors. Ask the elderly people in their neighborhood that they terrorized. Ask the judges who presided over their juvenile cases.
And lastly, I know:- We will never be the same after this is over.
My brother-in-law will be on duty downtown for the march. I'll be working at one of the hospitals in the parish. My co-workers will be manning ambulances at the courthouse tomorrow. I have friends who are law enforcement officers and will be on duty tomorrow. I'm worried.
I pray for a peaceful day. I pray for safety.
I also pray that the stupid redneck white people all get flat tires and have to stay home. I pray that the violent people all get horrific diarrhea and have to stay home. I pray that those with evil intentions get lost and end up right back where they started.
I also pray for the safety of those who are coming. Some genuinely believe that the Jena 6 have been wronged. They are misinformed, but their hearts are in the right place. Some of those coming truly care for their fellow man and want to make a difference. They don't know they've been lied to and misled. It should give us some glimmer of hope that people can care enough to attempt to make a difference.
I pray for the young men who committed this crime. They are the center of a storm. Hopefully at some point, they will admit their culpability in the creation of that storm. However in the mean time, I pray for them.
I pray for the Barkers. Tomorrow will be difficult for them I'd imagine. They have been much more stoic than I think I could have been. I pray for their continued strength.
It's been difficult to see my town portrayed as a haven of racism. It's been difficult to hear the misinformation and sometimes downright lies about Jena and the Jena 6.
I have to believe that when the day is done tomorrow, somewhere there will be a blessing. I can't believe that all this has been for nothing.
So, tonight and tomorrow, please keep us in your prayer and thoughts.