Cut off from the glitz and glamor of Palm Springs, and overshadowed by towering sixty-foot Tamarisk trees, lies the historically Black Lawrence Crossley neighborhood. Allegedly planted by the City in the late 1950’s to line the 14th fairway of a City-owned golf course, these trees have become the focal point of frustration and animosity for locals who see the trees as an enduring symbol of redlining. For decades, residents have been forced to put up with the tangled overgrowth from a species so invasive, they have been officially categorized as a pest by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Until now. Racist Trees, a feature-length documentary, investigates the timely story of racial conflict in an unlikely, liberal pocket of America, uncovering an even darker racist history that few would equate with the city’s progressive image.
An intimate, sobering, and at times humorous look at the intersection of local politics, news media, race, class, gentrification, and social justice, Racist Trees reveals a microcosm of racial tension that continues to percolate across the country today.