I just finished watching Fruitvale Station the movie and I still have jitters up and down my spine. Seeing the events of New Years Eve before the start of 2009 that ultimately ended the life of Oscar Grant III on the screen was a very emotionally intense experience. The film did an amazing job of portraying Oscar Grant as a regular person growing up in Oakland dealing with trials that young African Americans encounter in this society such as being incarcerated because of a drug possession and having a challenge to find stable work. The film showed many of the facets that was the man Oscar Grant, the loving father, son, and boyfriend who wanted to do right by his family and who was struggling to find a way to survive in this capitalist system we call America.
In watching this movie I realize that the director did an excellent job in showing a complex character in the representation of Oscar confronting the mainstream media’s portrayal of black male victims of police killings of being all harden criminals who do not contribute to society. Many young men Oscar’s age are struggling to find their way in this economy and might possess and sell marijuana to get by. The difference is if this young man is white he might escape being under the radar of law enforcements for doing the exact same thing in the suburbs that Oscar was doing in Oakland. The problem is the criminal system is designed to put more young black and brown men in prison than their white counterparts. Police are also more likely to use deadly force on black and brown youth that our society has deemed more violent in an attempt to control those populations. Being also a person with a disability I also have to recognize the police violence that is still being committed against people of color with disabilities that can lead to serious injury, unjust imprisonment, or death. In viewing the policing people with disabilities we can see plainly the police’s directive in controlling populations that are disadvantaged so they won’t challenge the power structure that is in place.
When you bring the Trayvon Martin case in this discussion on policing vulnerable populations bring it to a more ominous tone. George Zimmerman was not part of any police force, however he was deemed innocent of murdering a unarmed seventeen-year-old boy that was coming home from the store. The stand your ground law that made George think he was justified in confronting Trayvon and ending up killing him has a purpose of unofficially deputizing white citizens so they can police black and bodies that come into their community. These laws that were written with the help of the ultra-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are trying to bring America back to a time where a white person could kill a person of color who came into their community without having any repercussions. I think this is just a blatant attempt by a segment of society to have a monopoly on violence to protect their power and privilege within that society. I think with the world’s resources dwindling and the gap between the rich and poor growing nationally and I suspect internationally the ruling class will have more pressure if they try to keep their power and privilege and will use violence to make sure their status stays in place.
What this means for the Trayvon and Oscar’s of the world is very troubling. With this sudden emphasis on security and self-defense being promoted the target will definitely will be on black and brown men. To counteract this our whole community needs to stand up to protest this increased murder of black and brown men in this country. The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement did a study and found in 2012 a black person was murdered by law enforcement every twenty-eight hours. That one statistic proves that this situation is a crisis. Fruitvale Station is an beautiful artistic rendering reminding us who we are fighting for and what we are up against.