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.
Ernest Comer III is a community relations professional with several years of experience working with non-profit organizations. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota in Communication Studies with an emphasis in African and African American Studies. Ernest is a proud member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated and has held positions of leadership in organizations such as PRISM at the University of Minnesota, and emerging non-profit in Ramsey County, Re-Armor Homes. He has been an adolescent mentor in the Pediatrics Department at the U and has hosted local television and radio shows showcasing young talent.
You are priceless and you are free. You are so much more than I am; I lose my words in awe for what can be. I am excited for the opportunity to teach you, to learn from you and with you, to grow with you, to be present in your life, and be a part of all that you achieve.
The practice of silent reflection is a powerful tool for rejuvination, self-empowerment and motivation. As you take moments today to browse through inspirational memes and youtube videos throughout the day to keep you going, remember to take some time to reflect on what you see, hear, feel and think.
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