Staff Editorial: Jena 6: Beyond change & exchange

By Staff

The nooses hung in school colors from a tree in Jena, Louisiana have prompted a wave of both racial awareness and further assaults on people of color. Many of these have taken place on college campuses, in settings that we would find familiar.Three black female St. Thomas students have been systematically stalked and terrorized with racial hate messages. The perpetrators have been determined enough to physically deliver a message around an appointed guard.

Six Hamline students took their fight public, posting photos of themselves in blackface impersonating an African “tribe” on Facebook. Yale, Colorado College and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have witnessed similar performances.

Nooses have appeared nationwide, from Yale to Columbia University to the Tupac Center for the Arts.

Macalester is not above these incidents, as evidenced by last January’s “Politically Incorrect” party, where at least one guest showed up painted in blackface in a noose while another was reported to be wearing Ku Klux Klan garb.

These incidents offer an opportunity for learning and insight, for finding relevance in the struggles of people of color of all classes, rather than an eye roll or a dismissal.

The Day of Change & Exchange failed at providing the needed opportunity for continuous learning. More than anything else, it was a funeral for racial dialogue, a silencer for future consideration of the issues facing marginalized groups on campus. On The Morning After, Politically Incorrect was officially behind us. Change & Exchange has now become a brand name, to be used to publicize an as-yet-undetermined topic next year.

Macalester was scheduled to hold a discussion on the Jena 6 incident and movement yesterday. Mac students from Students for a Democratic Society, the Black Liberation Affairs Committee, and the Program Board are sponsoring a benefit concert for the Jena 6 tomorrow, Nov. 10 at 10 p.m., at the Triple Rock Social Club. At $6, tickets are affordable and proceeds will benefit the Jena 6 Legal Defense Fund.

We cannot imagine a camaraderie with people of color to simply allow us to laugh at a Dave Chappelle episode. We need a camaraderie that bonds us through the solidarity of struggle and the uncomfortable shedding of our rationalizations and preconceptions.

Supporting efforts like the above, interacting with people of different colors and classes, and seeking to understand other perspectives on their own terms is a crucial pursuit, as we seek to be global citizens in a post-Change & Exchange world.