I spoke with a friend today who resides in Chicago. It seems we keep calling each other at inconvenient moments. This time he was on his way to see Fruitvale Station. We said we'd catch up later and disconnected the call. The call had ended but his destination still rang in my head. I was feeling a little guilty at having not seen the movie. I mean we all know how the story ends and frankly my spirit is exhausted from collective pain, angst and anger. I called another friend and we shared a lighter moment, but now my uncomfortableness was beginning to grow. I mentioned this to my friend and she understood how I felt. She to was dreading the heaviness of spirit that would further impact our individual and collective psyche. We commiserated and acknowledged the importance of supporting this film and its creators. I equaled it to the tension and apprehension you feel at having to attend a funeral. We never want to go, but we do because we must. So, I checked the movie schedule at the Magic Johnson Theatre here in Harlem, showered, dressed and made my way from 151st to 125th street. What a gorgeous day, almost to beautiful to sit inside a movie theatre. I bought my ticket and a large popcorn. I Settled into my seat and waited for the film to start. As the film started I breathed a sigh of relief force having made it through the first unsettling scene (actual cell phone footage of Oscar Grant being shot by a police officer). As I relaxed into this world I smiled at a playful young father. A son who adored his mother. A boyfriend fighting for love and life. A man who made some mistakes and struggled to get it together. I saw in his eyes pain, anger and danger. There were moments where I judged his choices. I wondered why he went down the path that he chose. He made me think about the young men in my life ( nephews, cousins and friends) all of us a decision away from incarceration or legal drama. Systems within systems that will turn you inside out. By the time Oscar was on his way home from New Year's Eve celebrations I was in his corner and he was a member of my family. By the tIme he drew his last breath and his mother begged to hold him one last time, I was Oscar and he was me. I left a part of myself in that darkened theatre. The tears streamed down my face, because I understood at a cellular level that the only difference between Oscar and me was nothing more than luck and the Grace of God.
There are more stirrings sparked from this cinematic moment. I give what I can for now and committ to sharing more later. Forgive me, but I'm still dazed and hurt by this experience.
"Art should touch us in our soul places." -Antonio Lyons
(artist +activist) uses his/her artistic talents to fight and struggle against injustice and oppression—by any medium necessary