The Story of Oscar Grant III and Fruitvale Station is a familiar one.
It’s a story all too easy to imagine happening, too easy to imagine similar stories happening at train stations, street corners & bus stations. In neighborhoods where people with brown skin occupy most homes and apartments there are common narratives that makes this story painfully relatable.
What struck me most about this story is the question: What’s to be done about a Black man and his two-ness?
What WEB Dubois called Double Consciousness some might refer to as duality in this case as the former originally referred to the psychological challenge of reconciling an African heritage with a European upbringing and education. What Oscar appeared to be struggling with was a clash between his identities as father and short-tempered drug dealer.
It is clear at a certain point in the film that a personal decision is made to abandon the act of selling drugs however, his loved ones and his community continued to receive him as a drug dealer rather than simply as a father. With that he continued to play a matching role. It’s not difficult to imagine someone who would abandon an act or behavior without abandoning the lifestyle that comes with it.
One of the most painful elements of this familiar story is the consequence of making a personal change that the world doesn’t seem ready to accept. We all have to deal with the consequence of our actions and behaviors even if we decide to disengage them. The people around you won’t forget what you did just because you stopped doing it. People make bad decisions. All that we can hope is that the consequences don’t catch up with us or at least that they match the severity of the transgressions we commit.
Black men cloak themselves in paranoia feeling the watchful and fearful eye of the world hovering above. We know that – like in the case of Fruitvale Station – bad choices we make may be followed by consequences far more severe than what’s truly deserved.