On Fruitvale and other fears of a Black father

I don’t expect all of you to fully understand or thoroughly appreciate the very real fears that recent events have awoken in me as a Black man, but more so as a father of a Black child.

I understand that some of you wold rather I discuss this as a community and societal issue, but I refuse to color this as an intellectual practice. This isn’t teaching time. For me this is a personal matter. I have and will lose sleep over it. I will be increasingly paranoid, resentful and defensive as my son matures. And I don’tparticularly care to be talked off of that emotional ledge. 

I am lost cause as far as peace and tranquility around my son’s life is concerned. And I don’t just mean the son born and given to me as my ultimate responsibility.

I mean all of the son’s who are friends and comrades of mine. All of the sons who have fathered and taught me throughout my life. I speak of myself. And I am deathly afraid.

Fruitvale Station is an exceptional film. This very you g director never takes sides in leading us through the last day of Oscar Grants life culminati g with his death of a gunshot wound from a police officer’s gun on New Years day. He doesn’t paint Grant as an sympathetic victim. He gives us the messiness of this man’s life and let’s us decide how we feel about his life and eventual demise.

The film itself is a thing of beauty, even when you remember that you should be dreading the conclusion. 

Though a film, I came away from it more resolute than I have ever been about my role as a protector in my son’s life. I am resentful that I have to educate him about all of the ways in which he has to negotiate basic human interactions to be sure that he doesn’t scare others, as a means to avoid catching a case of premature death.

Im a bit fed up with educating people in two communities knowing that those having the conversation with me aren’t the real threat. I want to scream at my neighbors in other communities that they need to go to their sons, their peacekeepers, their authorities and educate them,because as it stands, saving all of our sons has fallen to a chosen few, and they cannot hold that weight.

What. Is unfortunate is that I’ve come to expect that we all will do our homework on these boys/men when we get word that tbeep have been murdered. Some news outlet or related source is goi got inform us that they weren’t an “innocent”,  as if that that somehow justifies the killing of a growing Black man.

Some well meaning neighbor will try and relate by offering some anecdote wherein they eventually complied and thus ended well with our public servants/defenders because they obeyed.

That shit is insulting son.

The reality is that my sons live under a very specific set of rules which suggest that any raised voice, tensed shoulder, angry glare, is grounds for Marshall violence.

I have to raise my son with the reality that he should fear those like him in his community. He must know that those who by right, should protect him, fear and at times, misunderstand and hate him.

 Comply or you risk everything. Smile enough to disarm others. Avoid too much eye contact. Feign harmlessness. Message being that you are not allowed the full range of experiences in your society, and there is nothin you can do about that.

I am reminded that Grant and Martin are links in a chain of events, and we’ve done little to address the ills that ended their lives. We have flinched a time too many.

I started out with the idea that I needed to say a bit about how magnificent a film Fruitvale is, and it is an understated, heartbreaking work of art.

Where I have ended up is at a place of commentary about how very real my concerns as a man and father are. No one but Black men and boys can relate to this fear and so many of us have no way to put those fears into words that others would hear as anything other than anger or excuses, so fuck it, why try.

I will spend every moment leading my son through this gauntlet with his sanity intact, I will tbrothers the brothers God saw fit to give me, and I will no teach, but will fellowship with my neighbors who will take the time 

I ask that you understand that I won’t be ending this post with anything hopeful or insightful in that I am simply frustrated at this point. I have not come ttoday to offer answers or solutions. Point of fact, imjust saying what I’m saying. 

I needed to get to a place where I understood the importance of the work I must do with another of our sons (Dr. Christopher Science Genuis Emdin) and one of my cherished neighbors (Dr. Mike Marti). Thoout tasks should keep me occupied, and I am grateful for that.

Oh, and as hard as it may be, see Fruitvale Station, because someone out there was brave enough to make a tragedy of our existence both beautiful and meaningful.

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