While I was anxious to see it, I was also very nervous to watch it.
I walked into the 8:15p showing. It felt foreign. I was not sure where I was at. I regretted for a minute not going the night before, when so many of my loved ones were going…
Right before I walked into the theater, my sister called me from Arizona, to let me know that the verdict came in.

Not Guilty.
I was hungry but no longer had an appetite. It took a minute to sink in. I really wanted to say “I knew this was gonna happen” but I couldn’t. Because I want to believe that there can be justice somewhere for a black boy in the country…
After walking past the 50 or so faces in line to see the movie, I felt sick…it dawned on me, that even the Oakland that existed just 4 years ago when Oscar was murdered, had changed drastically since then…
I bumped into my daughter’s step mother and stood in line talking about our sons and how difficult it was for them this year at school.
Walking into the theater, people were whispering things about Zimmerman. My mind was drifting between facts about the Zimmerman case and the days following Oscar’s murder… I remember calling people I trusted to help put together a rally. I remembered Evan, the young man who held vigil outside of Fruitvale Station for three days by himself. Tending to candles, screaming for accountability. I remember calling Dereca Blackmon, I remember telling Tony Coleman I needed his help… I remember the bullhorn not working. I remember the first 30 people arriving…then what looked like 200. I remember the beautiful signs that were handed to me, made by Melanie Cervantes and Jesus Barraza… I remember the crowd turning to 500… I remember someone telling me to look up… I remember not being able to see International Ave from the Fruitvale plaza. I remember when we abandoned the script to allow mothers whose children were killed by police to get on the mic… There were so many of them…. I remember Andrew Moppin’s mother wailing…

The movie opened up with the cell phone footage of Oscar and the boys on the platform. I have seen this video at least 100 times, but I could not watch. I focused on a speck of lint on my husband’s baseball cap….
POP. It never fails. I flinched when Mehserle’s gun goes off.

I want to talk about the movie, because it was beautiful.
But I am somber right now.
The movie impacted me not because it took me back to New Year’s 2009, but as I watched Oscar beg for his job back, sneak extra fruit snacks to his daughter Tati, try and convince the woman that he loved that he was doing the best he could, I could not help but to revel in the similarities between Oscar and my husband… it was just too real for me. I cried.
I cried for the loss of the future, I cried for Tati, I cried for Ms. Johnson. I cried for his fiance. I cried for my husband… because it is not easy being a black man, facing multiple layers of responsibility, with little to no encouragement from society that you CAN overcome your circumstances.

I stayed til the end. Credits rolling, popcorn and soda strewed all over the theater…
I couldn’t really move. The movie ended with facts about the case, leaving the audience at January 1, 2009 only a few hours after Oscar was pronounced dead.
I knew what happened next though. I knew we would organize. I knew we would put pressure on the Mayor and BART to hold Mehserle accountable. I know there were uprisings in downtown Oakland over the next few weeks. I remember finding out our CAPE account was hacked by the police. I remember all of the drama.. working extra hard to trust that people were who they said they were. I remembered knowing that those Uprisings were the ONLY reason Mehserle was arrested. I remember trying to get a group of youth from HOMEY out of downtown Oakland as we were being boxed in my OPD and 13 other law enforcement agencies from all over the state of CA. I remember the burning sensation of tear gas…

As I walked out the theater, I could not speak. I just wanted to be alone… instead, I walked out to a group of white protesters demanding “Justice for Trayvon Martin.” I wanted them to shut up. I wanted to tell them, they needed to pass the bullhorn to one of the many black men that were standing outside the theater. If you are really about justice, you will allow those who are directly impacted to speak, you won’t take up space trying to lead a fight that is really not yours…

That’s when so much started to connect.

White Allies: Here is how you can help us right now: Respond to racism. Don’t condone it. Don’t justify it and don’t dismiss racism. Don’t tell me or any other person of color that they are wrong for being upset. Don’t discredit their anger. Start dialogue with other whites. Figure out how, together, you can start impacting the lives of young black men and women.
No one else will tell you this, but YOU OWE IT TO SOCIETY.
DON’T CONVINCE ME MY ANGER IS DISPLACED. CONVINCE OTHER WHITES WHO ARE RACIST THAT THEIR VIEWS OF HUMANITY ARE SKEWED BY FEAR AND STEREOTYPES. Don’t let them off. Make them dialogue with you. Find out what makes them racist and work to create a narrative that counters this.

People of Color: I want you to stop being “not surprised” about the verdict, about injustice that happens to POC, to the discrimination that happens to our brothers, fathers, sisters and mothers everyday.
I want you to be surprised. Be angry. Be sad. Don’t even normalize this sh*t. Because if you do, you will stop fighting.
I was ashamed that there was no discussion happening before or after the movie. THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO ORGANIZE. Talk. Share your brilliance and your stories. Let it be ammunition to fight for a better future.

Organizers, young and old: Don’t work in a vacuum. There are many amazing people whose brilliant ideas need to be heard and shared. No more preaching to the choir. The choir is singing back up.

Mamas: Let’s teach our kids to protect themselves. Let’s make the truth of injustice, discrimination and prejudices, fit to be told. Let’s hug our children frequently. Let us feel blessed that our babies are safe… for now.

Hug each other. Oscar and Trayvon can’t do that.

I want peace so bad. But justice must come first.

7 Responses

  1. Anderson Roasko

    You know… I don’t know if this is appropriate, per se, nor do I want to offend anyone here. But I’m hoping this adds some perspective to things.

    72 people we shot in Chicago over the 4th of July holiday. Seventy Two, I am not making this up (google it). Almost all of them were black males. Almost all were shot by black males.

    The incidents with Oscar and with Zimmerman were utterly unacceptable miscarriages of justice. I have no defense for Zimmerman. But think about the stat above. 72. Nasty cops and Zimmermans are major, real problems, but they pale in comparison to 72. Please think about it and ask where your real outrage should lie.

    Reply
  2. yams

    i don’t really get why you’re upset with white people protesting against the killing of trayvon martin. really what is your problem? do you really want them to shut up and sit down about this issue and only quietly go talk to other white people and walk around on eggshells? your resentment of white people standing up against racism is tiresome. thank God this film focused on humanity and honesty and ignored this kind of shrill, old-school, PC crap wherein white people are always and forever unforgivably inappropriate and detestable, even at the moment when they show solidarity. thank God, because if this movie had been made from your perspective, then instead of being a transcendent thing of uncompromising truth, beauty and humanity, it would have been shrill, unwatchable, polarizing garbage, and believe me, not only in the eyes of white people.

    Reply
  3. A

    Christina, you left out the most important piece of advice, Men of Color: BE THERE FOR YOUR CHILDREN AND SET A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR THEM.

    How is it that you list all these groups of people with responsibility but the fathers of these children? Why is that you want white allies to figure out how to impact children of color and NOT the fathers? There is an alarming amount of children who have either bad father figures or absent fathers.

    Also, racism is a two way street. I work with high school kids in high risk areas and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that they don’t want to continue their education or do good in school because that’s acting White. When you have people thinking like, how can you honestly expect them to not have open mind with anybody that isn’t their race?

    As a person of color I can tell you from my experience that change has to come within.

    Reply
  4. Christine

    Thank you for writing this, Krea. I’ve always appreciated the standard by which you organize, and the deep amount of love for community.

    Anderson, I get what you’re saying and it’s a common theme I’m hearing pop up. I would read this: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/07/15/the-trayvon-martin-killing-and-the-myth-of-black-on-black-crime.html.

    Also, I would say that the same systems of white supremacy that this country’s economy was founded on (and whose repercussions echo today), created the environment for poverty and lack of opportunity that lead to the crime you’re talking about AND it is white supremacy that allows for a crime like what Zimmerman committed to be let off scott-free in our supposed justice system.

    White supremacy tells us that young black men’s lives are worth less or not worth anything at all when Zimmerman is let off free and when our policies do VERY LITTLE to NOTHING about the poverty and lack of opportunity in black and brown communities that allow for 72 deaths to pass as if it were nothing.

    Your point doesn’t run counter to the importance of Trayvon’s death and Zimmerman’s acquittal. It is directly related to and another side of the same coin of racism and white supremacy.

    I write this all with love and while grieving. I hope you take my response in that spirit.

    Reply
  5. Tiff

    @ Anderson Roasko

    And as par for the course, whenever a black or brown person share their lived experiences with or speak out about systemic and institutional racism, and the ways *allies* can help improve the dialogue, you derail the conversation by tone policing and spouting black-on-black crime statistics. We don’t exist in a vacuum. We are *aware* of what’s happening in Chicago. What does that have to do with the killing of black bodies, due to racial profiling and institutional racism? In 2012 alone, over 300 black people were killed by the police and due to vigilantism in this country. And many of them were unarmed. — http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/1-black-man-killed-every-28-hours-police-or-vigilantes-america-perpetually-war-its

    Did you even attempt to grasp what the writer was trying to convey?

    Reply

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