Florida: Black Men Ditching Hoodies; Embracing Lynyrd Skynyrd and Ronald Reagan T-Shirts

Jacksonville, FL – Wednesday By Joshua Mauldin Following the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the shooting of unarmed minor Trayvon Martin, the sale of hooded sweatshirts known as “hoodies” has hit an all time low thanks to the work of controversial African American leader, Davis Stone. “With the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law in full effect, we need to take practical measures to avoid wearing or acting in ways that threaten or otherwise make white people uncomfortable,” says Stone, head of the Black Capitulation Project. “Hoodies make caucasians nervous, they associate them with gangs and rap music. What we’re trying to do at the BCP is help our brothers and sisters dress in a way that calms white people’s fears – especially since most of them are carrying fire arms.” The BCP’s strategy is to let white people know, from first glance, that they’re “one of the good ones.” “If they see a brother in a Lynyrd Skynyrd or Ronald Reagan shirt, it puts they’re trigger fingers at ease. It let’s them know that ‘hey, a black president freaks us out too.” Responding to critics who claim the BCP’s approach is tantamount to blaming a rape victim for wearing revealing outfits, Stone agrees. “It absolutely is. Do you think I like wearing this stupid Cosby sweater in ninety-five percent humidity? Hell no, I just don’t want to get shot.” Feature Image Credit: Reware...

Fruitvale Station: A Profile Of Human Tragedy

I tossed and turned in bed all Saturday night wrestling with Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station in my head. Perhaps I should recommend it for that alone. Isn’t that what art is supposed to do? I don’t remember losing any sleep over Pain & Gain. This is a very difficult movie to review because it’s impossible to seperate it from the real life incident it fictionalizes. That seems to be the intention of the filmmakers as Fruitvale Station opens with actual cell phone video footage of the event and closes with Oscar Grant III’s daughter Tatiana at a rally for her father in 2013. For those unaware, in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009, Grant was shot in the back on a BART platform while lying face down by Oakland police officer Johannes Mehserle. Meserhle (whose name has been changed in the film) claims Grant was resisting arrest and when he saw Grant reaching for his waistband, Meserhle mistook his pistol for his taser. Grant was unarmed. The officer was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to two years minus time served. Upon the release of the verdict, protests and small riots broke out all over the greater Oakland area. Fruitvale Station is the dramatized account of that fateful New Year’s Eve, the last in Oscar Grant III’s life. As a keenly observed, brilliantly acted human tragedy it’s one of the best films of the year. As the socially poignant call for justice it strives to be, it feels slightly disingenuous. Or at least unsure of its statement. Maybe it’s the details of the case, or my personal perception, but the film diverges too heavily into polemic by the end. That’s part of the Catch 22 of embellishing or omitting key elements of a true story when creating a narrative account. I should report that the audience I saw it with – a packed house in West Los Angeles – probably disagrees. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house (including mine) when the lights came up. What I appreciate most about Frutvale Station is the filmmakers’ decision to present Oscar Grant III warts and all. This is not an angelic martyr of social injustice but a conflicted human being sorting through the beginning of adulthood. When we first meet Oscar and his girlfriend Sophina (played with subtle force by Melonie Diaz), they’re arguing over an affair Oscar claims to have ended. He promises to be there for her and their daughter Tatiana. Unfortunately, he’s lost his job for being late. While picking up seafood for his mother’s birthday, he begs his ex-boss for his job back – going so far as to borderline threaten him. It doesn’t work. His only real option to pay the rent now is to sell drugs to an old connection. Having already done a stint at San Quentin for possession, that’s not what he wants to do, but what else is there? Much of December 31st, 2008 is concerned with Oscar’s attempt to make amends for previous transgressions – to be better to his girlfriend, daughter and mother – even though the odds are against him. Michael B. Jordan plays Oscar with an admirable ease, fully convincing us that he’s the living, breathing contradiction most 22-year-olds are. What a revelation. Not that fans of The Wire or Friday Night Lights will be surprised. His performance never waivers and that’s precisely why the last act of Fruitvale Station is so devastating. When that gun goes off, it hurts. Deeply hurts. Few on-screen deaths are this affecting and that’s in spite of the fact we know it’s coming. As Oscar fights for life in the hospital and his family and friends pray for his survival, we’re emotionally right there with them – hoping in vain against the inevitable. There are a few scenes that skew into novice territory, specifically: a) some of...