“A Product of This Town” was a piece that detailed the events surrounding and unfolding from a single event in Jena, which caused a hoard of people to descend on the small town. It starts out detailing how the town was a simple town and the thing to do on Saturdays was to drive the “Loop” through the town and just hang out with your friends no matter what their gender or race. One day at the local high school nooses were hung in a tree that had been, by tradition, the ‘white tree’ where the white students would hang out. One day a few black students decided they would challenge this trend and they went to the tree to hang out. The next day there were three nooses hung from the tree. This was perceived by the black students that they overstepped their bounds by the white students who hung the nooses. This was also perceived by the black students that if they did it again, they might be hung as in America’s dark past. Although this was supposedly done as a joke by the three white students, given America’s history of racism between white and black, this was viewed as a hate/racist act. The principal of the school wanted to expel the boys responsible, but the superintendent intervened and only suspended the boys for three days stating it was just an “immature stunt” (Eggers 206). Several people in the town thought harsher punishment should have been given and from this point things continued to head downhill fast for the town of Jena.
Throughout the month acts of violence were committed, beginning with one wing of the high school being burned, schoolyard fights, and assaults on black students by white students. The local law enforcement just overlooked the events and said it was nothing more than “testosterone-filled teenage arguments” (Eggers 206). The final event that brought the hoard of people to Jena was when the fight broke out in the lunch room between a white student and black student. The black student knocked the white... [continues]
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