I went to see Fruitvale station last night. What an amazing movie. I cried. I don’t mean the little tears rolling down your face while you still look beautiful kind of crying. I mean the nose blowing, snot generating, puffy faced kind of sobbing. And I was not ashamed. I cried for Oscar Grant. I cried for his Mama and his girlfriend and his daughter. I cried for his friends and the people who loved him. I cried for the people who would never get a chance to meet him. I cried and cried and cried.
When Oscar Grant was murdered it hurt me. I read his story and cried at the injustice of it all. A young father, fresh off of a New Year celebration, rushing home with his woman to go get their little girl. I couldn’t believe that that B.A.R.T. officer just pulled his gun and shot this young man in his back. THEN the video footage was released. I watched it because I felt it was important. It broke me down. To hear the officer say, “Stand Back” to his partner and then pull his gun and shoot an unarmed man in his back was shocking and heartbreaking. How could this happen?
I have been trying to write a poem about it since I saw the movie but the emotions are too raw to be wrangled in to poetry yet so I’m re-posting the piece I wrote in 2010.
Someone asked my why I care about Oscar Grant?
Actually she was making a joke
when she stated
and I quote;
“Dana’s new Black panther project
is that guy killed in California
She turned to me and asked
“Why do you let these things
get you all riled up?
Why do you care about
She said more…
performing for her audience
of people like her
They don’t relate to these men.
They aren’t REAL to them.
The media rushes in to
each victim in the public’s eyes.
From juvenile records released
to the wallet for which he reached…
it’s THEIR own fault.
They emphasis their different-ness
so you won’t care
or look into a mother’s eyes
and see yourself there.
OF COURSE WE SHOULD CARE!
Can you please
take a moment to HEAR me?
Listen and accept what I tell you is MY reality?
That is what is missing from all of this discourse
people just shouting at each other until they are hoarse.
What we need to do is bridge a divide
listen with our hearts and not our pride.
Put aside your reality and try on mine.
Listen close to me and close your eyes.
I don’t live in the hood
my neighborhood is good
But the cops aren’t always the good guys.
I have Black and White friends AND family
I have seen first hand how we are not treated equally.
When was the last time
your White friend
was pulled from a car
during a routine traffic stop
put face down on the ground by 7 cops?
I have seen this happen FOUR times
and I was IN the ride.
But the driver was NEVER white.
Once you can accept
that maybe there are cops
who abuse their power,
see the people they are supposed to be protecting
as the enemy
you are starting to understand my reality
and that of those who look like me.
Why do I care about Oscar Grant?
He IS me
so easily could have been.
He is YOU
if you continue to accept
that taking a human life
is a mistake
justifiable by rallies
hurled racial insults
discourse that is anything but humane.
He is YOU!
As you cede your civil liberties
by saying it’s okay for cops to murder
shoot in cold blood
in the back
a man who was
He was surrounded by officers
just moments before he was shot
an officer was on top of him with his knee in Oscar’s back
and his partner said “stand back”
pulled his gun
Is that really defensible?
We are not that different from you.
Walk across the bridge with me
let’s create a NEW reality.
Let’s start with calling a crime
Let’s start with valuing EVERY life
We are not that different from you.
And if its okay to kill those who look like me….
One day it will be okay to kill you too.
P.S. – I had some formatting issues but everything you see in blue is a clickable link. Learn about these men. Remember their names. Let their legacy be lasting.