Such a Pretty Tree

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Such a Pretty Tree (and all the pretty colors today)

Some news is hard to believe. A lot of it makes you double check the date and reaffirm that you are living in the 21st century. That humans are higher functioning beings than in the stone age. I found myself doing that a few times this year already – most recently in response to the Jena 6 case in Jena, Louisiana. It’s not front page newsworthy as per mainstream media.

The short of it is that at a high school in Jena, LA, a tree was planted and for whatever reason, the white students at the school felt that the tree was explicitly for their enjoyment and shade. This infuriated the Black students (rightfully so). One black student asked an administrator if he could sit under the tree to which the administrator responded that he could sit where he pleased. (it is telling that he felt the need to ask permission). The white students then hung three nooses from the tree (in the school colors – that’s that school spirit). The students responsible for this were expelled – but the decision was reversed under the auspice that their actions were “just a prank”. The Black students staged a sit in under the tree. Soon after, white students at the university beat up on one black student at a party. And in response a fight ensued between 6 black kids and a white kid who was racially taunting the black kid that got beat up at the party. The white kid got off scott free. The black students were arrested under the charges of 2nd degree attempted murder and conspiracy. This news never made the headlines. It was buried – you had to be looking for it to find it.

Well, Black America found the story and the usual suspects are up in arms and headed to Louisiana today to protest. The message went out that in support, those who couldn’t make it to Jena wear black as a sign of solidarity. So on the radio waves, websites, black publications and word of mouth – those of us enraged were encouraged to support.

I’m donning my all black today and wandering through my predominantley middle class black neighborhood, I witness all the colors. The beiges. The browns and the blues. The reds, yellows and greens. And every so often – all black. And it almost makes me want to smile… Maybe even hold up a right fist in acknowledgement… But who’s to say their wardrobe today wasn’t an absolute coincedence.

It makes me think that indeed to hide something from Black folks hide it in a book (or in any text at all – website / newspaper / email ). I know it sounds so cliche but – I feel sometimes that if we can’t collectively do something like alter our wardrobe in support of something that could have truly happened to every one of us… Then when might we ever struggle for what is right together? And if not together… How might we get this done at all?

The fight is far from over but we’ve managed to become labotomized as a people by the chase for money, means and material. Fuck the movement, I can hear us collectively murmur. I’ve got bills to pay. But when injustice comes our way individually, we’ll wonder why shit isn’t fair.

It’s so sad too… The tree itself is beautiful. Not unlike many a tree we’ve seen used to symbolize our deep heritage as Black People. I just wonder if anyone remembers anymore.



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