Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fruitvale Station (Coulda Been 60th & Market Street)

This weekend...I finally got around to seeing "Fruitvale Station", the much anticipated movie about the Oscar Grant killing in Oakland, California on New Years Day, 2009....In the wake of the Trayvon Martin killing and the subsequant acquitall of George Zimmerman...you would think that I would shy away rom seeing a murder about yet another young black male who was senselessly gunned down....Yeah, you would think!

Oscar Grant was 22 years old when he was killed on New Years Eve....by a trigger happy and inexperienced rookie transit cop who says he mistook a gun for a taser... I watched this movie, which I'm glad portrayed the victim as a human being and not the monsters they always portray us as on the 6:00 news when we get shot or worse, killed...

See ,Oscar Grant could have been me when I was 22...I was somewhat like him...a little under employed...Didn't too much know what I was going to do with my life at that time...My parents were pretty much sick of me around that time too...And but for the grace of God...I could have very well of taken a walk on the dark side back then...

Trayvon was me at 17...Tall,lanky, still unsure of my place in the world...Still not quite ready for prime time...and by God's grace...I lived to see my hair turn gray or rather start to turn gray...Neither Oscar, nor Trayvon got to see their hair begin to turn gray...

But I digress...This is the true story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being a better son to his mother, whose birthday falls on New Year's Eve, being a better boyfriend to his girlfriend, who he hasn't been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to Tatiana, their beautiful 4 year old daughter.

He starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realizes that change is not going to come easy. He crosses paths with friends, family, and strangers, each exchange showing us that there is much more to Oscar than meets the eye. But it would be his final encounter of the day, with police officers at the Fruitvale BART station that would shake the Bay Area to its very core, and cause the entire nation to be witnesses to the story of Oscar Grant.

That's the Bay Area Rapid Transit station where he met his death....That could have easily have been the 60th street El Station right here in West Philadelphia...or Kiladelphia as they call our city nowadays...

I did a lot of hanging out back then, late 1970's, Early 1980s....It was just as dangerous to be a black male then too...We had stop and frisk before the term was coined...I was stopped at least once a week and frisked because I looked like I was someplace I didn't belong... I wasn't driving then and didn't own a car...
Me and my friends rode the Bus and the subway everywhere....Even picked girls up and went on dates on the Bus and Subway....Because the girls weren't driving either....That of course would be unheard of today, but nobody had a lot of money then..We all were young and struggling and there was a kind of understanding and unity amongst us that young black people don't have today.

We were under no illusion that this was a post racial Amerika....We knew all about the man!!  We also didn't have rappers and singers filling our heads with unrealistic notions of material wealth either...I believe we  and by we...I mean the young people of my era had a closer grip on reality.....I guess all generations say that...but I just don't honestly see a lot of critical thinking going on amongst todays youth...I hope I'm wrong.

I'm just saying...The police hassled us...and we kind of expected it and our parents did a good job of telling us how to govern ourselves...I remember my mother sternly telling me..."If a policeman stops you, don't you say a durn thing.(She never said damn, I think she made up the word durn to keep from cussing!) You keep your mouth closed and speak only if he asks you a question...don't give him no lip." She wasn't being mean, she was trying to keep me alive...So that I could live to see my hair turn gray! She did a good job and where-ever she is...I thank her every day of my life.

This was one of the things my mother said to me then that I listened to and obeyed...Cops stopped me and I offered no resistance....They searched me and I didn't say a word unless they asked me  something and then I was on my way most of the time... A couple of times they took me "for a ride" to some far away neighborhood and dropped me off and then I had to make it back home the best way I could...(This was for repeatedly violating the curfew) but that only happened twice...One of my cousins , who is eight years my senior told me that that happened to him also... And he hadn't violated the curfew!!So it wasn't a new thing...This was just life for a black male in Philly or pick a city USA!  It seems so foreign to some people though!

I don't know of any white person my age or younger whose parents had to have that talk with them... You know why? Because the Trayvons and the Oscars don't look like them...They tend to look more like me...They aren't going to be stopped and asked what they are doing anywhere...But I still might!

They aren't going to be profiled....But I might!!! And you can best believe if they are accidentally shot in the back by a cop.....That cop is going to do more than 11 months in prison....That's all Oscar's killer got...11 months...

Go see this movie....It's beautifully acted by Michael B. Jordan...'Wallace " for those of you who used to watch "The Wire" on HBO.. new comer, Melonie Diaz and Oscar winner, Octavia Spencer from" The Help"

5 comments:

Chris Anne said...

It's not easy to see alone, but that's the choice I made. I wanted time to process it all without distraction. Dear Angela, go see it. This film is too important to miss. Our collective energy will make a difference. That is how the Universe works. Trust it! Rest in Peace Oscar Grant.

Angie B. said...

I haven't seen it yet, I am not there yet in my Christian walk.

Drake said...

It really hits home out here Nupe! Especially we we take BART...

Yvonne Anderson said...

This was poignant and beautifully written and adequately expressed..

Arlene said...

Keith, seeing that movie was one of the highlights of my vacation. I lost my breath too many times watching. The story was gripping. A mother's love pressed to the max, a woman's love pressed by circumstance, and a child's love that's pure and innocent! OMG, what a world!

As a mother of black men and grandmother of a black youth, these things press on my heart. I gave those lectures about behavior and teetered on the edge of the porch each time my boys went out for an evening of fun. I could exhale when they put the key in the door. Both are grey-haired men now, well one has hair. I hold my breath for the next generation.

P.S. You know where your mother is!! Live right and you'll be with her again.




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