October 6, 2007

Lyrics Anger Jena Mayor More Than Nooses Ever Did

Drumbeats from Kristi told us about flap between John Mellencamp and Jena mayor. I saw Mellencamp in a movie called Falling From Grace back in the day. Earlier this year he wrote a song called 'Jena'. Mellencamp's song opens, "An all-white jury hides the executioner's face; See how we are, me and you?"

As he sings, images of Jena, the high school and the tree are followed by video from the 1960s, including civil rights marchers, police beatings, and President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King speaking. Still images include one of a protest sign reading, "God demands segregation," a stylized drawing of people in Ku Klux Klan robes and an older image of a black man in shackles, begging.

The mayor of Jena is pissed off about the song and video. The mayor wrote, "The town of Jena has for months been mischaracterized in the media and portrayed as the epicenter of hatred, racism and a place where justice is denied".

The mayor said he had previously stayed quiet, hoping that the town's courtesy to people who have visited over the past year would speak for itself. "However, the Mellencamp video is so inflammatory, so defamatory, that a line has been crossed and enough is enough."

Perhaps the outrage over Jena never materializes if Mayor McMillin showed this anger about the whites only tree in the local high school or if the Jena City Council didn't feel that nooses being hung in trees were no more than a prank.

Villagers, you be the judge. Click here to see the video or read below to see the lyrics:

An all white jury hides the executioner's face
See how we are, me and you?
Everyone here needs to know their place
Let's keep this blackbird hidden in the flue

Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena

Take your nooses down
So what becomes of boys that cannot think straight
Particularly those with paper bag skin
Yes sir, no sir we'll wipe that smile right off your face
We've got our rules here and you must fit in

Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena

Take your nooses down
Some day some way sanity will prevail
But who knows when that day might come
A shot in the dark, well it just might find its way
To the hearts of those that hold the keys to kingdom come

Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena

Take those nooses down

Oh oh hey Jena
Oh oh Jena
Oh oh Jena

Take your nooses down
Take those nooses all down

Villagers, what say u?


Bronze Trinity said...

I'm glad that this isn't ending. I think that either noose incidents are increasing or that the MSM is just reporting them more because of Jena. hope that this is going to be a time for major changes for all of us. This has to just be the beginning.

Villager said...

BT - MSM is more attentive. I also think that OUR EYES are now open ... so we SEE more than we may have seen before. Woozie also suggests that there are more COPY-CAT dummies out there now that the original Jena nooses were so heavily publicized.

WhozHe said...

What can I say to the mayor but "the truth hurts."

Bohemian Hippie Chick said...

Hmmm...I wonder if those lyrics anger the mayor as much as the entire Jena fiasco angers us? I wonder if he feels as angry as we feel about all of the racist incidents that continue to happen? He should've been angry about a whites only tree in a public school, and angry that those children have received death threats. But no, he's angry about a damn song. It's like turning a light on in a dark, roach-infested room...but instead of scattering, these roaches have the nerve to get pissed! The mayor needs to get a grip, and Jena (and all the other little towns like it) needs to join us in the 21st century.

I think the MSM is playing catch up. They hate that they ignored this at the onset. Now the race is on to see who can squeeze a Pulitzer Prize out of all this.

Villager said...

WhozHe & Hippie Chick - Amen!

old white guy said...

The surest, fastest, easiest cure for racism is for whites to become irate, for whites to stand up and shout, loud and clear, that moronic attitudes and behaviors will no longer be tolerated. Blacks may suffer from racism but it is a white problem. I did not see the response from whites that the Jena situation deserved and so feel indebted to Mellencamp for speaking out. Maybe others will follow.

Woozie said...

You'd think more white people would have a vested interest in speaking out against all these noose incidents. At the very least all these idiots hanging nooses are making white people look bad in the eyes of some.

Kevin said...

Thank you for sharing this information with us all. I would not have had the chance to see the Jena Video normally, but I believe that it is something that everyone in this country should see. Who would believe that in 2007 hatred and racism would still be so blatant in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. If any of these people are Christan and can read, according to the Bible there was one man and one woman created by God. If they believe that to be true then everyone here of earth came from them and we are all brothers and sisters regardless of our skin color.
Thanks again Villager for keeping us informed and getting the word out.

Anonymous said...

The fact of the matter is, that racism is still pervasive in America today. Political Correctness has only pushed it underground. Racists feel that as long as they behave in a politically correct manner it's "OK"

Americans are good at hiding things. Political corruption, bigotry, hatred, racism, are all hidden from view. We are always pointing out the wrongdoings of others, as a defense against dealing with our own.

Sounds to me like the mayors pussy is hurting. Maybe he should take it to the vet?


Villager said...

Old White Guy & Woozie - Mellencamp is speaking out through song. I agree that it is important that other white leaders speak out. It would be great if George Bush or Hilary Clinton would lead the charge.

Kevin - Asante sana for sharing your village voice with us. I hope you come back often. Feel free to share his video or this post with others.

Anon - Thanks for sharing your perspective.

MsMarvalus said...

Maybe the mayor will realize that his ways of doing things need to be changed...the spotlight is on...I'm glad this is still getting attention.

Villager said...

Mz. Marvelous - Amen! It is good to help expose the light on these folks!

LoveMyselfFirst said...

i'm glad that a non-black musician is taking a stand or at least expressing acknowledgment of the nonsense in Jena.

Bakare said...

I'm speechless. This mute fool, who watched nearly silent, except when he "wished there were less people visiting Jena", should have remained mute. With all the injustice and noose related history in the county where Jena is situated, he should be more ashamed than upset.

Villager said...

LoveMyselfFirst and Bakare - Thank you for sharing your village voices with us! I hope you will both come back often...

Chuck said...

I am really disappointed that after all these years, we still live in a society where people see color and not the person. I am really disappointed that we still see things such as "white tree" or "black tree". I can still remember restaurants where if you were colored, you had to enter a certain door and sit in a certain place. And if you were white and entered through that door, you would be denied service. I am so disappointed and saddened to find so much hatred still exists between the PEOPLE.

Yobachi said...

"The mayor said he had previously stayed quiet, hoping that the town's courtesy to people who have visited over the past year would speak for itself."

Oh, polite racism. Well, gee, thanks.

The nooses spoke for them selves, the in school suspensions for haning the nooses spoke for themselves, the white's only tree spoke for itself, and those absolutely ridiculous charges spoke for themselves.

And all the while, the Mayor stayed quitet about all that.

Kristi K. said...

In reality, the mayor kept silent for one of the following reasons:

1.) He was a coward.
2.) He thought he could get away with doing nothing.

Or both.

Villager said...

Kristi - Coward and opportunist ... I think that those describe Jena, LA politicians exactly.

Yobachi - It is a new day. We can no longer accept "polite racism" especially when it has negative impact on our children.

Chuck - Amen!

Marenda.Biz said...

It is no surprise that the mayor of Jena would take offense to this song. Apparently, the image of the town and appearances are more important than justice and equality....clearly thats what he's pissed about...

The message of the song is racism is intolerable, it would seem that those offended by the message don't agree with the message... so then what does that say about the mayor of town that had a known white only tree?

Villager said...

Marenda - Your analysis is on point. It doesn't seem like the Jena mayor is aware of the fact that he is on the wrong side of history in this matter.

Denise said...

Music is powerful, and John Mellencamp's song will carry this message for years to come - look how many of us STILL break out with Jack and Diane or Little Pink Houses, some 20 years later?

The Mayor of Jena is well aware that this stain won't be washed away, even after the marchers have gone home and the kids have all moved on. It's now up to him and everyone else to change for the future, and they may be a little reluctant to meet themselves.

Villager said...

Denise - I agree that music is powerful. However, I must admit that I don't remember Little Pink Houses. I'll need to do some research on that one!

Anonymous said...

being a resident of jena i find the song highly offensive. 1.) it was never an all white tree, i went to high school there for 4 years from 2001-2005 and sat beneath the tree with my fellow black classmates everyday. 2.) what three ignorant children did (hang nooses) should not and does not speak for the whole town, yet the song along with the media makes every citizen of jena out to be racist 3.) the noose incident had nothing to do with the attack of the six black boys on the one white boy, it happened many months later. 4.) no one saw the nooses save the janitor who removed them at 7:30 that morning. I am not making excuses for the people who hung them. But i know from experience that jena is a wonderful place to live and i have black friends that will tell you the same. Thanks to this song my future children will never be able to leave the town of jena without ridicule or shame. the media has made our town into something it is not. It has also tried to tear us apart, but we are still together and i am very proud of Jena. I also recieve hate mail because of the simple fact that jena is my hometown...isn't that just another form of racism? Yes the truth hurts, but what hurts even more is a washed up singer trying to make some more money and publicity from the destruction of our town. Becky

Villager said...

Becky - Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts. It is evident to us that Jena white residents feel differently about the way things are then Jena's Black residents. In many ways that is no different than race relations in other parts of the country. One way that we improve things are to talk with each other. I hope you will visit our village often in the future.