The Jena 6 story is sobering. It reminds everyone that for as advanced as we think our society to be, old bigotries are not non-existent, just put away in the basement, away from the prying eyes of visitors. But just like my cluttered old house, you can’t hide everything. The dust bunnies in the corner pile up and one day threaten to trip me on the way into the house. For many people in the northeast, we think of the south as the basement – things that happen there, could never happen here, right?
There’s always been the grudging acceptance in Pennsylvania of its dixie of the north status. Derisively known as Pennsyltucky or Pennsylbama ( Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on the east and west – and Kentucky or Alabama in between). Technically a blue state, purple is more accurate. Still the story of what’s happening in Lititz, Pennsylvania needs to be broadcast across the country. Racism isn’t something relegated to the south – it’s live and kicking here in the north too. Litiz is about 75 miles away from Philadelphia in Lancaster County. A predominantly white community, and as with the rest of the country, it is dealing with a diversification of it’s demographics. This diversification has led to incidents in the high school where white students have accosted and taunted black students and their parents. There’s talk of a “redneck row” where only white students are allowed to park their pickup trucks. Liberal use of the word nigger.
Unlike the situation in Jena, the authorities have reacted appropriately by suspending the students responsible. There hasn’t any retaliation by the black students (although this situation is new and bears keeping an eye on). Still it is sad to see cases like this crop up across the country. Even at Columbia University, an Ivy League college, there have been racial incidents in the recent months. While the Jena 6 story deserves all the attention it has received, we need to keep a close eye closer to home. Traveling to the south to protest racism is not required – there’s enough to protest in our backyards, whether it be the Jena, LA or Lititz, PA. I’m hoping more light is shed on stories such as these.
Pay attention to what’s going on in your house – not everything can be hidden away in the basement.