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Reflections on “Fruitvale Station”

August 14, 2013

By Sister Elizabeth L.

Fruitvale Station Sign

Fruitvale Station in Oakland, CA, the setting for the events in the “Fruitvale Station” movie.

New Year’s Eve 2008, was his mother’s birthday. A year ago she was visiting him at San Quentin State Prison. This year his day was framed by preparations for her birthday party.

By New Year’s morning Oscar Grant was dead.

Oscar was shot by a transit officer at the Fruitvale BART station in East Oakland, CA. He and his friends – including his girlfriend, the mother of his little girl – had gone to see the New Year’s fireworks in San Francisco.  His mother had suggested that they take BART since it was safer than driving on New Year’s Eve.

The killing of this young Black man was senseless and the transit officer was charged with first-degree homicide. He was tried and convicted only of manslaughter and served eleven months in prison.

This is a true story. “Fruitvale Station” is already attracting a large audience, because of its evocation of the recent trial of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin. If that brings people to the theater, good. However, it is a disservice to both young men, Trayvon and Oscar, to conflate their stories. The beauty of the film is that it individualizes. Oscar struggles and loves in his own ways. We see him stumble, and again leap for joy, we see light and we see shadows, in the details of this single day of his life. The loss of this mother’s son, this daughter’s father, this lover’s beloved, breaks our hearts.

Before we return to the also necessary outcry at the slaughter of so many young Black men, we need to give Trayvon Martin’s life the same loving attention.

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Wayne Hsieh

6 Comments leave one →
  1. CSSF permalink
    August 14, 2013 9:10 am

    Reblogged this on FSJPIC and commented:
    Taken from Connect With Mercy, the Sisters of Mercy, written by Sister Elizabeth L.

    • Barbara Smullen permalink
      August 19, 2013 9:43 pm

      Thank you for sharing this tragic story. Yes, we must keep hearing stories like this, as Trevan Martin’s story should be enough but it seems that it is not to bring about meaningful action. How can we NOT demand appropriate action ? How can we sisters and associates of Mercy have a significant impact ?

      • Barbara Smullen permalink
        August 19, 2013 9:44 pm

        I do not understand the rating system. I would be happy to rate it but…??

        • August 20, 2013 9:27 am

          Rate means you give a thumbs up or thumbs down. It’s like Facebook where you can like something but you can also dislike a post.

  2. Renee Yann permalink
    August 14, 2013 4:52 pm

    Thank you for the thoughtful challenge, Elizabeth, so compellingly stated.

  3. John permalink
    August 14, 2013 5:27 pm

    I would have to disagree. The Trayvon Martin incident was different. Yes, it was a tragedy, but Trayvon was culpable and the shooter was proved innocent.

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