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The reality of being young, Black in America

Casey Thomas | 8/5/2013, 1:39 p.m.
Casey Thomas

The Dallas Examiner

I’m not a writer, I just have something to say. I had a chance over this weekend to go see the film Fruitvale Station, a movie based on the true story of the life of Oscar Grant. Grant was a young African American male who lived in Oakland, Calif., and was killed by the bullet of a Bay Area Rapid Transit officer at the Fruitvale transit station.

The movie does a good job of showing Grant as a real person, not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. He has found himself hustling on the streets, as he tries to overcome the challenges of his past. Having spent some time behind bars, Grant has to navigate his dark days with his desire to “live right” by making an honest living and caring for his daughter and the mother of his child.

Many young Black males in America find themselves in the same position as Grant. With few educational options, these young men choose to “make it” by any means necessary to survive. Oftentimes the choices that they make lead them to a life that is not accepted in mainstream society. Few are able to “do a little dirt” and put themselves in a position to choose a different lifestyle. This was Grant’s story.

After attempting to go straight by working at the neighborhood grocery store, Grant was fired because he continuously came to work late. Confronted with rent payments and other financial responsibilities, he chose to make money in the streets until something else opened up. After reflecting on his past and his desire to do right by his mother, he decides that he will try again to get a job.

Before Grant is able to get back on the job hunt, he is accosted on a train and gets into a fight. After the altercation, the local BART police confront Grant and his friends and remove them from the train. After exchanging words and some aggressive action taken by the BART officer, Grant and his friends are arrested without being told what they are being arrested for. As the situation escalates, BART Officer Johannes Mehserle takes out his gun (he supposedly was reaching for his taser and pulled his gun by mistake) and shot into the back of Grant. Even though it was not fatal at the time, Grant later is pronounced dead at the local hospital.

Like Grant, many young Black men are confronted by the local police or other authority figures. Knowing what to say, or what not to say, can often determine if they will live or die. Let’s make sure we educate our brothers so we can do our part to make sure there are no more Grants.