In three words, I found Fruitvale Station to be:
Raw, Thoughtful, and Provocative.
I’ll never know what it feels like to be a Black man in America, but yesterday, I came close. I sat just feet away from the screen, and for about an hour and a half, I was a witness to the events that took place that New Year’s Day over 4 years ago. And to be honest, I was broken-hearted. Crushed. My emotions were provoked to the point of tears, and I dare not wipe t
hem, until I figure out my part in trying to stop the cycle of racial profiling and police brutality in this country.
This movie told the raw story of an African-American man who fell victim to both racial profiling and police brutality in the Bay area on January 1, 2009. The writer and director did not sugar coat the tale. He painted a picture that hurt to watch, but was easy to understand. It gave us an ending that broke our hearts, but also woke us up and charged us with a mission to mend it on our own. There was no story book ending, because you know the story didn’t end there. Until we do something as a society, it won’t even ever begin.
There are movies that only tell one side of the story. There are movies that slant its character depictions in a way that favors the “protagonist” and makes you hate the villain. But not this film. I didn’t walk away angry at the the Bay Area Rapid Transit officer. I didn’t walk away angry at anyone. This writer thought about everyone. He included both sides as being responsible for the events that occured. Instead of taking sides, he thought telling the story was more just. He knew the story alone would be enough. Enough to make us think. Enough to make us cry. Enough to make us act.
For 85 minutes, I sat there watching the heart- and gut-wrenching day in the life of this 22 year old, Oscar Grant. At times, I wanted to yell at the screen for him to stop, and rethink his actions. There were times, I shook my head, because I’d seen this before. In my neighborhood, in my schools, in my church. I wanted to protect him. I wanted to quiet his rage, I wanted to soothe his unrest– just like I would my brothers, my cousins, my uncles. I wanted him to be quiet, sit down, be cool. But then it was over, and I understood why he was so angry. I understood why he couldn’t hold his peace. I suddenly realized that he was born into a society that would give him nothing and then punish him for trying to survive with it. A society that would break him and then provoke him into a situation that would separate him from his family with prison walls and death. I understood that because, for 85 minutes, I was Oscar Grant. That is what Fruitvale Station did for me.
In today’s American society, we are so eager to point the finger. We want to blame the law, the law enforcement, or most often…the law offenders. And we want to do all this blaming from the comfort of our own homes. We want to crucify the world for our own inaction. That is, until its effects show up on our doorstep. Until its blood leaves a trail on our marble floors. THEN we cry over the death of our people, our faith and our power. But how can you watch the gun be locked and loaded and then shed tears when the trigger is pulled? Didn’t you see that coming? By law, doesn’t that make you an accessory? No? Why, what a tangled web we weave.
There is a mindset that needs to be changed. There is an apathetic culture that needs to be moved. There is a new generation that needs to be protected.
If you need a little nudge in the right direction– if you need a push to find your purpose, please go see this film.