By Arturo R. García
Fruitvale Station reminds us that the story of Oscar Grant is not over. And the world seemingly took a cue from that on Wednesday, when a federal court rejected his killer’s appeal, enabling his father to continue to seek justice in his name.
The man who shot Grant dead early on New Year’s Day 2009, former transit officer Johannes Mehserle, doesn’t say anything in writer/director Ryan Coogler’s account of the last hours of Grant’s life, a choice that not only allows Grant (Michael B. Jordan) and his loved ones more time to be seen and heard, but defines Mehserle as less character than calamity – a clumsy, confused-looking thing that happens. Both Grant and Mehserle are introduced from afar in the film’s opening seconds before shifting focus to follow Grant (sometimes, literally, from behind), pointing the viewer toward the same destination. But knowing what’s coming from a dramatic standpoint doesn’t diminish the visual impact.
At the film’s pivotal moment, both of those impulses collide; we see Oscar veer from calling out the officers (led by a glowering Kevin Durand) for dragging him out of the train and throwing him and his friends to the ground to trying to calm his group and filming his captors’ badges before Mehserle (or his surrogate character) fires.
From there, the film shifts to follow Sophina and Grant’s mother Wanda, as Díaz and Spencer show their respective characters fraying despite themselves. After we see her withstand not just Oscar’s verbal abuse during his prison stint but the creeping possibility of his death, Wanda finally breaks upon seeing his body (“He doesn’t like to be alone … Just let me hug him.”) while Díaz’s eyes convey the terror of having to go from realizing that her love is dead to having to convey that to Tatiana.
The film ends by touching on the protests that followed Mehserle’s brief conviction on manslaughter charges and Grant’s emergence as a rallying figure for Oakland’s hip-hop community before showing us a glimpse of Tatiana at this year’s memorial for her father, a reminder that he is not alone in death — nor in being victimized by injustice. Mehserle’s character didn’t speak on film, but if Fruitvale calls attention to him (hopefully) having to answer for his deeds in a more thorough fashion … it can never be an “epilogue,” and certainly not a “happy ending.” But it will add to Coogler’s vow to do right by Grant and his loved ones. And maybe it will help another family escape being separated in this fashion.
About This BlogRacialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable
Keanu ReevesJohn Cho newsflashes.
Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.
Comments on this blog are moderated. Please read our comment moderation policy.
Use the "for:racialicious" tag in del.icio.us to send us tips. See here for detailed instructions.
Interested in writing for us? Check out our submissions guidelines.
Follow Us on Twitter!
- lynn1066 on The Walking Dead Roundtable: 4.8 “Too Far Gone”
- bridgetarlene on The Walking Dead Roundtable: 4.8 “Too Far Gone”
- etoiledamore on The Walking Dead Roundtable: 4.8 “Too Far Gone”
- literatebrit on The Racialicious Links Roundup 12.5.13: Black Twitter, Black Academics, Iran, Chicago and Elan Gale
- Matt Pizzuti on The Walking Dead Roundtable: 4.8 “Too Far Gone”
- The Walking Dead Roundtable: 4.8 “Too Far Gone”
- Voices: Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
- The Racialicious Links Roundup 12.5.13: Black Twitter, Black Academics, Iran, Chicago and Elan Gale
- On Disability and Cartographies of Difference
- A Muslimah’s Guide to Rocking the World
- Quoted: Dr. David Leonard Pens Open Letter to Marissa Alexander
- The Acclaimed Web Series Black Folks Don’t Returns for a Third Season
- Comedian Aamer Rahman Explains “Reverse Racism”
TagsABC activism advertising african-american asian asian-american barack obama black celebrities comedy diversity fashion feminism film gender glbt HBO hip hop hispanic history hollywood identity interracial relationships Kerry Washington latino media mixed race movies music muslim politics race racial stereotypes racism religion Scandal sex sexism sexual stereotypes stereotypes True Blood tv Uncategorized white youtube