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April 21st, 2014

Fruitvale Station ***

Coming Soon to the Savoy Theater

 

Fruitvale Station

***

 

In the aftermath of the Zimmerman verdict, President Obama was inspired to say a few words about race.

In an unusually eloquent speech, Obama shared his memories about the troubling experience of being a young black man in America.

He remembered how it felt to be followed around stores by clerks who assumed he was stealing. He remembered how it felt when motorists instinctively locked their car doors when they saw young Obama walking by.

It was one of the most meaningful and heartfelt speeches of his presidency.

As someone who rose from the bottom of the social hierarchy to the very top, no one has a better frame of reference than the President. And because most white politicians are scared to speak frankly about the subject of race, no one has more power to open people’s minds to the problems that still exist.

Achieving racial equality in America is like driving west from Vermont to Hawaii. In the last fifty years, we’ve made it to California. Now that is definitely some major progress. But we’re not in Hawaii yet. And it might be impossible to get there.

“Fruitvale Station” is a rare treat: an independent drama that is made from the point of view of a young black man; a young black man who never dresses up as a sassy old black lady.

The film follows one eventful day for Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Oakland ex-con trying to get his life together. Oscar wants to be a good son, a good boyfriend, and a good father. But it isn’t easy.

Better than any movie I have ever seen, “Fruitvale Station” shows us how much acting a black man has to do on an every day basis. He has to speak completely differently around a black co-worker vs. a white customer. It is like he is three different people when he is talking to his girlfriend vs. his buddies vs. cops.

Being black in America may be enough to give a guy an identity crisis. And it’s definitely enough to stress a guy out.

“Fruitvale Station” is not a terrific drama. But it is an important one. The only way we are going to make more progress on the road to racial equality is if we honestly discuss our differences.

If enough people do that, maybe we can all drive to Hawaii someday.

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