September 21st, 2007

locked & loaded

Whiskey tango foxtrot.

Two arrested in noose incident near Jena, Louisiana

ALEXANDRIA, Louisiana (CNN) -- A Louisiana city that hosted many of the "Jena 6" protesters Thursday became the site of a racially charged incident of its own.

Authorities in Alexandria, less than 40 miles southwest of Jena, arrested two people who were driving a red pickup Thursday night with two nooses hanging off the back, repeatedly passing groups of demonstrators who were waiting for buses back to their home states.

On my mind a lot lately.

So, I was going to ask the question, "What is the difference between identity and community?", but I felt like I was being somewhat disingenuous in doing so because I've been thinking about that question quite a lot in the last week, mostly in terms of how children of LGBTQ parents are portrayed in the media and whose voices are heard. Then today, I stumbled upon the brilliant tuckova's latest post on the exact same topic (or, at least, she seems to be answering my question to some extent without knowing it was being asked). And anyway, I already have at least one answer of my own.

Identity is some defining characteristic--it can be a big thing or a little one, though I suspect its importance to one's sense of self or to others is a matter of how important that characteristic is to society as a whole. Ours is a society in which gender is a hugely defining characteristic, along with parenthood, and age. Sharing any of these characteristics, though, doesn't make for a community. It makes for an affinity group.

Affinity groups do not assume that each person present has had the same experiences around the shared identity. Likewise, they do not assume that each person will feel the same level of comfort, pride, or acceptance of that identity, particularly if the identity is one which is targeted by society for violence, the deprivation of civil rights, and other types of oppression.

So what is community, then? Community is intentional. Community is built and requires work on the part of its members for its growth and healthiness.

To be continued.
look! a birdie!

And in the meantime....

Court rules 'Jena 6' defendant to stay behind bars

JENA, Louisiana (CNN) -- Mychal Bell, the sole defendant who remains behind bars from the group of teens known as the "Jena 6," will not be released Friday, a court decided.

Bell, 17, has been in jail since his arrest more than nine months ago.

It was not immediately clear what happened in court Friday, where Bell's attorneys had planned to push for his release.

"It is our understanding that the judge refused to give bond or bail to Mychal Bell today," the Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist who traveled to Jena for Thursday's rally, said in a written statement.

A source inside the court said the issue of bond was not discussed at the hearing. Attorneys did not immediately comment. The proceedings, involving a juvenile, are not open to media.

Bell's mother left the courthouse in tears.

"We'll be back," shouted one Jena 6 supporter outside the courthouse Friday.

With thousands of demonstrators converging on the small town Thursday to decry what they call "unequal justice," the state's 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal ordered a bond hearing for Bell within 72 hours. It was set for Friday morning.

Among the calls at Thursday's dramatic protests -- which drew worldwide attention -- was "Free Mychal Bell."

See a full timeline of the events here: (Thanks, jwz.)