Black male humanityshown in ‘Fruitvale’
Oscar Grant did not deserve to die.This is the central message of “Fruitvale Station,” a ﬁlm dramatizingthe real-life case of the young unarmedblack man shot in the back by a whitepolice ofﬁcer in 2009. It’s a commonmessage, often heard in ﬁlm and life ingeneral. But the way writer/directorRyan Coogler delivers this message isextraordinary.As portrayed by Michael B. Jordan(beware of plot spoilers ahead) Grantis a great father — and a convictedfelon. He loves his girlfriend — and hecheats on her. He wants to hold down alegal job — and he can’t make it towork on time. He’s a drug dealer whotakes time to make his bed in themorning, a hardened convict and amama’s boy — a thuggish angel.By the time the credits roll, OscarGrant has become one of the rarestartifacts in American culture: a three-dimensional portrait of a young blackmale — a human being.Which raises the question: If Grantwas a real person, what about all theseother young black males rendered ascardboard cutouts by our merciless cul-ture? What other humanity are wemissing?“Everyone either made Oscar out tobe a saint, depending on whatevertheir political agenda was, and on theother side theymade him out to bethis villain,”Coogler said in aninterview.“Everything hehad ever donewrong in his lifewas magnified,”Coogler said. “Hewas just a criminal,a thug, a drug dealer, and he deservedwhat he got. You live that type of lifestyle, you get what you deserve.His humanity was lost.”Grant was 22 years old in the earlyhours of New Year’s Day, returninghome to Oakland with his girl andother friends. In the ﬁlm, a ﬁght startson the train when Grant encounters anenemy from prison. Police detainedGrant and his friends on the platformof the Fruitvale station.The police are abusive; Grant andfriends respond with belligerence.Grant is being held face down on theplatform, unarmed and struggling,when the ofﬁcer shoots him once inthe back. Numerous bystanders cap-tured the scene on video.That’s the ﬁrst scene of the ﬁlm,using real video shot by bystanders.Then it jumps backwards one day to ﬁllin the blanks of an average brother, toillustrate the mundane moments withfamily, friends and strangers that con-stitute real life.When Grant’s death hit the news,what much of the public saw was a con-victed drug dealer who had beenreleased from prison three monthsbefore his death. They saw a trouble-maker who police said was resistingarrest. They didn’t see everything elsethat’s in “Fruitvale Station.”“If there’s one thing missing in ourcountry, it’s an acknowledgment of the broad humanity of black folks,”Ta-Nehisi Coates recently wrote on hisblog at TheAtlantic.com. “Racism —and anti-black racism in particular —is the belief that there’s somethingwrong with black people.”The remedy: “Close the gap betweenwhat they see and who we really are,”Coates wrote.Asked what it felt like to close thatgap, the actor Jordan said, “It felt real.It felt like I was telling a story foryoung African-American males whoare stereotyped and judged before peo-ple get a chance to know them.”“We wanted to let people know whothis guy was through the people whoknew him the best,” Jordan said.“Show the good, bad and the ugly.Flaws and all.”“Fruitvale Station” is not unprece-dented. It’s part of a recent wave of independent black ﬁlms that are put-ting authentic black characters onmore screens than ever.This can make a difference in howblack men are perceived in the realworld, said black filmmaker AvaDuVernay.
FOR THE RECORD2
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Actor RodneyAllen Rippy is 45.
This Day in HistoryThought for the Day
Britain’s Prince Charles married LadyDiana Spencer at St. Paul’s Cathedralin London. (However, the coupledivorced in 1996.)
“An idea is not responsible for the people who believe in it.”
— Don Marquis (MAHR’-kwihs),American journalist-author(born this date in 1878,died 1937).
Rock singer GeddyLee is 60.Actor Wil Wheatonis 41.
Emirates New Zealand Team AC72 catamaran races on in San Francisco Saturday.Emirates Team New Zealand defeatedArtemis Racing on a forfeit on Saturday in a Round 4 race for the Louis Vuitton Cup,which serves as the selection series todecide the challenger for the America’s Cup.
Mostly cloudy in the morningthen becoming partly cloudy. Patchy fogand drizzle in the morning. Highs in thelower 60s. South winds 10 to 20 mph.
Partly cloudy in theevening then becoming mostly cloudy.Patchy fog and drizzle after midnight.Lows in the lower 50s. South winds 10 to20 mph.
Mostly cloudy in the morning then becomingsunny. Patchy fog and drizzle in the morning. Highs in thelower to mid 60s. Southwest winds 5 to 10 mph.
Mostly clear in the evening then becom-ing mostly cloudy. Patchy fog and drizzle after midnight.Lows in the lower 50s. West winds 5 to 10 mph.
Mostly cloudy in the morning.
Local Weather Forecast
On this date:In 1030
, the patron saint of Norway, King Olaf II, waskilled in battle.
, the English attacked the Spanish Armada in theBattle of Gravelines, resulting in an English victory.
, artist Vincent van Gogh, 37, died of a self-inﬂict-ed gunshot wound in Auvers-sur-Oise, France.
, Italian King Humbert I was assassinated by ananarchist; he was succeeded by his son, Victor Emmanuel III.
, Adolf Hitler became the leader (“fuehrer”) of theNational Socialist German Workers Party.
, Britain’s King George VI opened the OlympicGames in London.
, the International Atomic Energy Agency wasestablished. Jack Paar made his debut as host of NBC’s“Tonight Show.”
, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed theNational Aeronautics and Space Act, creating NASA.
, an accidental rocket launch aboard the supercarri-er USS Forrestal in the Gulf of Tonkin resulted in a ﬁre andexplosions that killed 134 servicemen.
, President Gerald R. Ford became the ﬁrst U.S. presi-dent to visit the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland.
, a state funeral was held in Cairo, Egypt, for thedeposed Shah of Iran, who had died two days earlier at age 60.
, the Israeli Supreme Court acquitted retired Ohioautoworker John Demjanjuk of being Nazi death camp guard“Ivan the Terrible” and threw out his death sentence;Demjanjuk was set free.
Ten years ago:
President George W. Bush refused torelease a congressional report on possible links betweenSaudi Arabian ofﬁcials and the September 11 hijackers, say-ing disclosure “would help the enemy” by revealing intelli-gence sources and methods.Actor Robert Horton is 89. Former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum-Baker is 81. Former Sen. Elizabeth H. Dole is 77. Actor DavidWarner is 72. Rock musician Neal Doughty (REOSpeedwagon) is 67. Marilyn Tucker Quayle, wife of formerVice President Dan Quayle, is 64. Documentary maker KenBurns is 60. Style guru Tim Gunn (TV: “Project Runway”) is60. Rock singer Patti Scialfa (Bruce Springsteen and the EStreet Band) is 60. Actress Alexandra Paul is 50. Countrysinger Martina McBride is 47. Rhythm-and-blues singerWanya Morris (Boyz II Men) is 40. Actress Rachel Miner is33. Actress Allison Mack is 31. Actor Matt Prokop is 23.
In other news ...
(Answers tomorrow)ETHIC STYLE ARMORYAVIARYSaturday’sJumbles:Answer:If the ocean were run by a corporation, thenPoseidon could be the — “SEA” E.O.Now arrange the circled lettersto form the surprise answer, assuggested by the above cartoon.
THAT SCRAMBLED WORD GAME
by David L. Hoyt and Jeff Knurek
Unscramble these four Jumbles,one letter to each square,to form four ordinary words.
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J u m b l e p u z z l e m a g a z i n e s a v a i l a b l e a t p e n n y d e l l p u z z l e s . c o m / j u m b l e m a g s
Print youranswer here:
The Daily Derby race winners are Hot Shot,No.3,in ﬁrst place;Eureka,No.7,in second place;andLucky Charms,No.12,in third place.The race timewas clocked at 1:41.59.
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