Strange Fruit

17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Matthew 7:17-20

Growing a tree takes patience. Seeds must be gathered, the conditions for growth must be right, the ground cultivated.

A seedling sprouts, develops roots and bursts from the Earth.

Initially all seedlings appear the same, but in time they will display characteristics that differentiate them from other trees and season each tree solidifies its identity through bearing fruit. 

From a seedling to a fully grown, a tree’s maturity process is comparable to a human’s maturity process. 

One’s beliefs, biases, opinions and prejudices stem from their background- what they’ve experienced, who they’ve interacted with and the types of media they’ve been exposed to.

Through biases, assumptions and prejudices are indoctrinated and nearly intrinsic, many Americans seek to just address the manifestations or symptoms of these beliefs and disregard the conditions that allow them to develop in the first place.  

For many ailments, we only seek to treat the symptoms of that make us uncomfortable.




  • a feature that is regarded as indicating a condition, particularly such a feature that is apparent to the patient.
  • a sign of the existence of something, especially of an undesirable situation.

If you have a cold, most patients only want to stop coughing, not caring to be completely well.

If you feel inadequate, it is easier to compare yourself to those doing worse than you than to navigate, understand and defeat your self-imposed sense of inadequacy.

When we see the effects of racism, xenophobia and prejudice only after someone is killed or threatened, most Americans are comfortable with only addressing the symptoms of this injustice.

After a ignorant and hate-inspired attack, the perpetrator is condemned, punished, and made to be an example. Because this person’s deviance from the norm could never embody America or represent the ideals and values of the United States.

This happens on case by case basis, but why should it be allowed to happen more than once?

Why is it so difficult to address the issues at the core of this epidemic?

Because it is uncomfortable to view racism, xenophobia and prejudice as an institutional problem. As a problem embedded so deeply into each American institution that is has become undetectable to those who benefit from it.

But to those of whom the system is set against, obstacles for surviving and succeeding in an oppressive society are apparent and endured daily. 

Social stratification helped established the United States of America as a nation; therefore, identifying a group’s superiority based on race, gender and class is historically acceptable. 

The structure of the United States needs to be dismantled and reconstructed to bestow all groups with equitable rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. It is evident that all men are created equal, but this truth is not reflected within the institutional structure of the United States.

Public outcry against the small effects of institutional oppression does nothing to alleviate the problem. It only addresses a symptom.

In order to see a change and work towards and equitable society, we must admit that there is a problem and we must begin at the root.

Southern trees bear a strange fruit

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root

Billie Holiday, 1939


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