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A Tale of Two Drug Dealers

July 22, 2013

fruitvale station cops

When I went last night with a friend to see the award-winning film Fruitvale Station, depicting the final day’s events of police murder victim Oscar Grant, I naturally expected to get angry about racism.  And I did get angry — though, owing to the film’s complex, relatable approach, deftly shifting between heartbreak, horror, and humor, I felt many other things, too.  (You should really see it, if you get a chance.)

But one of the most striking reminders of U.S. white supremacy glared across the screen even before Fruitvale’s opening credits.

Meet the Millers is, according to the trailer, a zany comedy about a white dude sent on a mission to Mexico to smuggle in a ridiculous amount of weed.  Knowing he’ll be more conspicuous at the border if he’s alone, he assembles a team of white working-class ne’er-do-wells to act as his hetero nuclear clan, faking wholesomeness (synonymous with whiteness) to deflect any law-enforcement suspicion.

This, just before a film whose main character, a Black man, struggles to stay out of prison, wrestling with whether or not to keep selling trees to pay rent for his family.

And whose racist criminalization makes his last encounter with the law anything but a joke.

Black Americans were nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested on charges of marijuana possession in 2010, even though the two groups used the drug at similar rates, according to new federal data.

—NYT

Telling [people of color] they’re obsessed with racism is like telling a drowning person they’re obsessed with swimming.

—Hari Kondabolu

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