I know I am a bit late to weigh in on the Jena Six story. But I forge on, better late than never, that's me.
I have only one point to make - doesn't anyone who has reported on or commented on this story remember high school?
So much has been made of this "white tree" thing...
At my school, we had the jock table, the cheerleader table, the ASB table, the band geek area, the drama people bench, the "loadie" circle...all inviolate areas for each group. None of it was overtly racist or classist, but you just KNEW not to go where you didn't belong. If you went there, nothing good was going to come of it.
My group was the smart/funny/weird kids who liked movie and comics. We didn't define it that way but looking back on it, that was true. You had to have all four of those qualifications to belong, or at least be strong on 3 out of 4.
(Oddly enough, we called ourselves the Jewish Liberation Army, the JLA. We were NOT Jewish and we went to a school where Jews were few and far between. We just thought the Christians at our school were so annoying that we wanted to do something to drive them nuts. So we became promoters and cheerleaders for All Things Jewish. I remember standing and cheering in history class when our teacher did the lesson on Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. Kids are weird, that's my only excuse.)
The JLA hung out BEHIND McDonalds at lunch. We sat out back on the curb by the trash because we just didn't feel like fighting the more popular kids for tables inside and anyway, the fresh air, the big fat seagulls, and the proximity to the restrooms suited us. Or at least that's what we claimed at the time.
High school is ALL about finding your people, your peer group, the place where you slot yourself and pretty much stay there for the rest of your life, unless something miraculous happens. I'll bet many of the ASB people are still politically active and that the surfers are still surfing.
So reading about Jena having a tree where only white kids sat made me think that was actually kind of a tepid distinction. I am just surprised that it wasn't the tree for "white kids who also belong to the Volleyball team" or something more specific. Because in high school, the cliques are sliced and diced a lot finer than just "white" and "black" no matter where you are.
People WANT to separate themselves from each other, and they do, often in ways that are cruel and violent. I don't know if that is racism or if that is just humanity.
What was your clique?