There Are More Important Struggles For Equality Than The "Jena Six"

11/17/2011 09:02 am ET

By some reports, as many as 50,000 mainly African-American protesters descended on Jena, Louisiana this week to protest the felony charges against six black men from the area for beating up a white classmate.

While the circumstances surrounding those charges need to be aggressively addressed and investigated, I wonder how much of this anger is yesterday's struggle- one built upon presumptions that "the South" is not a place where justice can prevail.

Although I know it can be plausibly said that my own ethnicity makes this not my fight, I do believe the following:

Jumping on buses, in cars, and driving hundreds of miles to protest presumably racially motivated felony arraignments of young black youth is not unimportant. But the larger struggle is larger, wider, and more often than not, isn't of the nature where picket signs and picket lines are going to help.

To that end, I wonder about how much more uplifting and durable a blow against underclass status it would be if even a small percentage of those demonstrators stayed or went back to their home towns and:

Worked on voter-registration campaigns- campaigns which could enfranchise enough voters to tip elections away from candidates who would shortchange schools and not appoint overly tough-on-crime judges;

Worked on vigilant anti-gang projects, such as working with local residents to out gang leaders and drug pushers rather than perpetuate vows of silence;

Work edon projects that would cut down on out-of-wedlock births and promote two-parent families;

Operated car pools that would take inner city residents to jobs in suburbs underserved by public transit;

Promoted local literacy programs.

Volunteer for a Planned Parenthood sex education - and if ncecessary, contraception distribution- community outreach program.

These are but a few of the social ills that keep whole groups of people down, and need to be fixed.