Written by: Derrick JaxnLast night I had the opportunity to watch Ryan Coogler’s new movie, Fruitvale Station starring Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant. As expected, the story is a tragic and hardly uncommon one of a young black male being treated like the red headed step child of modern day America we’re constantly being shown that we are.
No spoiler alert here. But a bigger point is to be made by this movie that we’re too afraid to touch on.
Non-racist whites don’t like to talk about racism or to acknowledge that racism is still a problem. Why? Because it usually means they’re getting ready to be falsely accused of being racist. But because they’re not, nor have been subject to racism(outside of mean looks), they see it as just a figment of our imagination and a thing of the past. I get it.
Blacks are constantly subject to racism but don’t know who to really blame, so we blame white people because that’s what history has taught us. Because we wrongfully blame them so much, it starts sounding like we’re crying wolf and don’t know what we’re talking about even though we live it every single day when trying to go shopping, or being “randomly” stopped and frisked, or worse, shot in the back by a policeman while lying face down and unarmed. And those who are racist are playing on those frustrations by telling us it’s not racism if no one says the N-Word….to our face.
The sad part is, both whites and blacks are picking a fight with the wrong people. It’s not each other that we need to wage war against, but instead the institutionalized racism that exists in our media and justice system. Laws designed by racist politicians that still haven’t changed over the last 60 years, destructive images of black men that we’ve not only accepted but in many ways embraced, are only exposed in statistics we’re too caught up in Youtube and Reality TV to actually see.
This movie was masterfully done and necessary because it keeps the conversation of racial injustices alive while doing so in a very responsible manner. It doesn’t paint white people as all being racist. In fact, it shows white people who were trying to help Oscar Grant in the midst of his untimely death, directly reflective of what’s happening today. There are white people who are fighting alongside blacks to end racism, but we can’t alienate them out of frustration of needing someone to blame.
There’s plenty of work to be done to finally end racism but Rome wasn’t built in a day. We first need to recognize our opponent if we plan on winning anything. Lebron James can’t win a single game by dunking on the popcorn guy in the stands. As absurd as that sounds, that’s exactly what we’re all doing by choosing which race is more at fault. Once we establish that this flawed justice system and the biased images the media projects which facilitates these dangerous stereotypes and division of cultures is who the REAL enemy is, then we can come together and really figure out how to win.
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