During the week after the George Zimmerman verdict, Marcie (my wife) and I were driving in the car and heard a priest say in a radio interview that a primary cause for this tragedy is that Zimmerman didn’t see the humanity of Trayvon Martin. We both thought that was very powerful.
But we didn’t fully understand it until we happened to see the movie Fruitvale Station.
I went to the movie knowing absolutely nothing about it (other than Marcie saying that a friend highly recommended it.) Based on the true story of a black man who is killed by a white cop, it’s intense, thought-provoking, important, and disturbing. And what the movie is all about, Marcie and I agreed, is precisely what the priest said—seeing the humanity of Oscar Grant, the movie’s victim.
In the movie, we learn that Grant is a flawed individual—he had served time in prison for dealing drugs, he cheats on his girlfriend, he has a hot temper, and he has trouble holding a job because he was habitually late. (It’s hard enough for someone with a felony conviction to get a job in the first place. You can learn more about that in the amazing book, The New Jim Crow, which I coincidentally read this summer, on my son’s recommendation.)
Watching Fruitvale Station, Oscar came across as a great guy to me and Marcie despite his faults. We saw that he was someone that we might have judged differently if all we knew was that he was a convicted felon. But, by getting to know him—by seeing his humanity (including the relationships he has with his mother, his brother, his girlfriend, his daughter, his friends, and strangers)—we couldn’t help but like him.
It reminds me of the fifth of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits, one of the ones about external leadership, about seeking first to understand, which is something I strive to, but don’t always, do.
Leaders seek to understand others, to see the humanity. Leaders help others see the humanity by making movies like Fruitvale Station, and by talking with others about these kinds of things.
What do you think? Join the conversation with your comments…