Fruitvale-Station-PosterFrom The Grio — There’s no excuse for not seeingFruitvale Station. But some black folks, perhaps people you know and love, may be using Trayvon Martin as one.

Tensions are running high in black America following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Martin.

Zimmerman’s defense argued he shot and killed the 17-year-old black teen in self defense but the case’s conclusion has left many people of color feeling bewildered, angry or just jaded.

A new NBC poll shows a growing dissatisfaction among African-Americans with the direction of the country, the performance of the president and the reliability of our justice system.

While it would be simplistic to attribute these negative numbers entirely with the outcome of the Zimmerman trial, its conclusion and aftermath have undoubtedly cast a shadow over many black psyches.

Opening at an auspicious time

It is in this harsh climate that the acclaimed film Fruitvale Station enters the fray.

For those who may not know, the movie documents that last 24 hours in the life of Oscar Grant, another black youth whose tragic death recently galvanized a community.

Grant was shot and killed on New Year’s Day 2009 by a BART officer in Oakland, who claimed that he mistook his firearm for a taser. His conviction for involuntary manslaughter instead of murder led to violent riots and protests in the Bay Area and to this day Grant remains a symbol for anti-police brutality activists.

The film does not try to make Grant out to be a saint, and that is part of its brilliance. Over a naturalistic 9o minutes, audiences see a convincing portrait of a flawed but decent man — who struggles with his obligations and his temptations. When the story reaches its inevitable tragic conclusion the emotional effect is overwhelming, in the best way.

Fruitvale Station, which was impressively written and directed by the 27-year-old Ryan Coogler (an African-American), does what we often wish so-called “black films” would do. It provides a realistic, honest and sympathetic glimpse of what the black experience is for so many of us and it deserves all the praise being heaped upon it for its unflinching intensity and heartfelt emotions.

The movie we’ve been waiting for

Still, some may argue that in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict that this film may be too hard to handle. You may have heard someone close to make that case that they won’t support the movie because it hits to close to home.

This is precisely why you should see this movie. See it now, not later, and take a friend while you’re at it.

For far too long, movies, media, even music, make young dead black boys an afterthought. They are as unidentifiable at the ubiquitous mugshot of the unidentified black male suspect seemingly wanted for every neighborhood crime. Devoid of a family, a history or a voice, these figures are easy to ignore and dismiss.

Fruitvale Station is a game-changer because it succeeds in making you care about someone who for too many Americans exists on the margins of society. And thanks to the breakthrough, Oscar-worthy performance of Michael B. Jordan as Grant, you would have to be missing a piece of your soul not to be emotionally invested in his fate by the conclusion of this film.

(Continue Reading @ The Grio…)

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  • Rue

    “There’s no excuse for not seeingFruitvale Station.”
    Oh. Ok. I wasn’t aware that funneling millions into Harvey Weinstein’s pocket was a requirement of being black. Couldn’t I educate myself on Grant without seeing this movie?

  • Brad

    Loved these points from “carolynedgar” web site on why “Fruitvale Station,” matters.

    -The importance of “Fruitvale Station” lies not in its devastating final 20 minutes, but in the random, joyful normalcy of the 70 minutes that precede them.

    – In showing both the positive and negative facets of Grant’s character, the movie also challenges you to re-think the “thug” label.

    [SPOILER ALERT]

    – When a yuppie white man admits to Grant that he, too, was once involved in crime, as a way of getting his life started, one has to wonder what the difference really is between the young white man, who married his girl and started a successful web design business, and Grant, who is thinking of marrying his girl but whose prospects are far dimmer than his new friend’s. Why is Grant any more a “thug” than the young white man? Why was Grant imprisoned for his crimes, while the white guy not only served no time for any of the crimes he admits to committing, but prospered as a result?

    – This “pull your pants up” message does not counsel the person who is actually out there doing wrong to modify his or her behavior — it simply counsels them to don a mask of respectability so they won’t get caught. And there is a disturbing flip side to the respectability message that its proponents ignore. If you believe those who don’t look, act, or dress like thugs deserve to be left alone, then you also believe those who dress, act, talk and look like thugs, deserve whatever happens to them — including being shot.

    – And that is the lesson of Fruitvale Station: whatever one might choose to call Oscar Grant — whatever Grant’s future did or did not hold — in those moments just before he was shot, he was simply a man who did not deserve to die.