Sunday, September 23, 2007

The revolution may be televised (but some of y'all will still miss it)

On Thursday I wore black to work in honor of the demonstrators who descended on Jena, La. to protest the treatment of the Jena Six, a group of black teenagers arrested for nearly stomping the life out of a white kid. The schoolyard brawl happened after some white students hung nooses from a campus oak--a not-so-veiled threat to ward off blacks spending too much time at the "White Tree." A small-town prosecutor charged the black kids with attempted murder, not assault, and set off a multi-media civil rights campaign that culminated in Thursday's rally and people all over the country wearing black, including me and several of my liberal white coworkers. I would like to assume that most readers know about all this and my detailed explanation is unnecessary, but a recent exchange with a good friend convinced me otherwise.

His name is Wayne, but we all call him Weasel. He graduated from an elite private school and went on to Harvard, where many people loved him but also laughed at him behind his back (and sometimes to his face). That's because Weasel is sweet and caring and quite eager to please: He would give you the shirt off his back and, if you told him, his pants, undershirt, socks and underwear, too. Six years out of college, Weasel and I live in different cities--he coaches wealthy Manhattan kids to take the SAT and I report for a newspaper down South--but we stay in touch with phone calls and texts, usually filled with my own mocking but loving sense of humor. On Thursday, we exchanged the following texts regarding the Jena Six.

Quint: you wear black today, monkey?

Weasel: no why?

Quint: jena 6

Weasel: what,??

Quint: Negroes don't read anymore! Google it.

Weasel: Fool I work all the time. When do you think I can read?

Quint: a newspaper headline? In the morning before you go to work.

Weasel: I read a book on my way to work.

Quint: did you google it?

Weasel: fool I'm at work

Weasel: I'm driving

Quint: set your home page to nyt. you'll be a more informed citizen. Or is HARVARD still your homepage

Weasel: you bout to get on my last damn nerve you preachy motherfucker. you are a JOURNALIST! do you know anything about the college board changing their stance

Weasel: on whether or not the SAT is coachable?

Quint: easy there fella. Harvard must still be your home page. ha! current affairs is important for everybody. not just journalists. that's the truth. but I'll shut up.

Weasel: I think educational happenings are for everyone too

Quint: man the blind are leading the blind

Weasel: i hate u


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