Monthly Archives: July 2013

fruitvale stationI just finished watching Fruitvale Station the movie and I still have jitters up and down my spine. Seeing the events of New Years Eve before the start of 2009 that ultimately ended the life of Oscar Grant III on the screen was a very emotionally intense experience. The film did an amazing job of portraying Oscar Grant as a regular person growing up in Oakland dealing with trials that young African Americans encounter in this society such as being incarcerated because of a drug possession and having a challenge to find stable work. The film showed many of the facets that was the man Oscar Grant, the loving father, son, and boyfriend who wanted to do right by his family and who was struggling to find a way to survive in this capitalist system we call America.

In watching this movie I realize that the director did an excellent job in showing a complex character in the representation of Oscar confronting the mainstream media’s portrayal of black male victims of police killings of being all harden criminals who do not contribute to society. Many young men Oscar’s age are struggling to find their way in this economy and might possess and sell marijuana to get by. The difference is if this young man is white he might escape being under the radar of law enforcements for doing the exact same thing in the suburbs that Oscar was doing in Oakland. The problem is the criminal system is designed to put more young black and brown men in prison than their white counterparts. Police are also more likely to use deadly force on black and brown youth that our society has deemed more violent in an attempt to control those populations. Being also a person with a disability I also have to recognize the police violence that is still being committed against people of color with disabilities that can lead to serious injury, unjust imprisonment, or death. In viewing the policing people with disabilities we can see plainly the police’s directive in controlling populations that are disadvantaged so they won’t challenge the power structure that is in place.

When you bring the Trayvon Martin case in this discussion on policing vulnerable populations bring it to a more ominous tone. George Zimmerman was not part of any police force, however he was deemed innocent of murdering a unarmed seventeen-year-old boy that was coming home from the store. The stand your ground law that made George think he was justified in confronting Trayvon and ending up killing him has a purpose of unofficially deputizing white citizens so they can police black and bodies that come into their community. These laws that were written with the help of the ultra-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are trying to bring America back to a time where a white person could kill a person of color who came into their community without having any repercussions. I think this is just a blatant attempt by a segment of society to have a monopoly on violence to protect their power and privilege within that society. I think with the world’s resources dwindling and the gap between the rich and poor growing nationally and I suspect internationally the ruling class will have more pressure if they try to keep their power and privilege and will use violence to make sure their status stays in place.

What this means for the Trayvon and Oscar’s of the world is very troubling. With this sudden emphasis on security and self-defense being promoted  the target will definitely will be on black and brown men. To counteract this our whole community needs to stand up to protest this increased murder of black and brown men in this country. The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement did a study and found in 2012 a black person was murdered by law enforcement every twenty-eight hours. That one statistic proves that this situation is a crisis. Fruitvale Station is  an beautiful artistic rendering reminding us who we are fighting for and what we are up against.

As background I have been playing power soccer for more than two decades and was the team representative for my team, the BORP Bay Earthquakes for a number of years. I am very familiar with how to play the sport and I know the politics behind being in the sport I am in.

At the start of this season I was very excited about our chances to have a good standing at this year’s national cup. However as soon as we started playing the games at the tournament I new we were in trouble. Last year the team Minnesota Magic came with their Strike Force Power Wheelchairs from Power Soccer Shop and blew everyone away winning every game easily. This year when we went to the Premier Cup this year almost every team in the tournament had those chairs. Our confidence soon evaporated as soon we got on court with our game. On a first game CNY United from New York we got decimated. This trend kept repeating for the next for games. The performance of the whole team was a debacle, we were totally embarrassed. Although my teammates and I were going through our separate issues I place  most of our blame not being able to play against the Strike Force Power Wheelchairs.

Adjusting playing to these Strike Force Power Wheelchairs was not as easy as we originally planned. These chairs were built to have an unnecessary long frame with casters extended in front of the wheels. This allows the designers of the chairs to build an extended foot guard in front of the chair.  The end result being that the Strike Force Chair has a stronger kick on the ball and better maneuverability then any other chair on the market. What ends up happening is the team with the Strike Force Power Wheelchairs and relatively good power soccer skills will beat a team with any other power wheelchair. Also since the Strike Force Wheelchairs are sold at for over $7000 means that only those that can afford this chair will be able to compete in this sport at a high level. Since the Strike Force Power Wheelchair is constructed as an expensive “go kart” only for use on the court and not for daily use means that unfortunately not many medical insurance companies will approve co-payment for these extra chairs. Since until now people were using their daily chairs to pay power soccer it will cause another burden to purchase the Strike Force Power Wheelchair just to play the sport of power soccer. Many people with disabilities have limited incomes and the chair that the medical insurance company purchase for them is the only one that they will have. This will exclude many people from playing the sport as a high level because of affordability, which goes against the spirit of the sport that was suppose to be for people with severe disabilities to have a sport that they excel in using their own power wheelchairs.

As I leave the sport that I truly love and spent two decades playing I hope power soccer will not turn into a sport that excludes people on physical ability and income. I hope the sport still attract people that take a chance on trying out a new sport that they might excel in irregardless of their disability or the wheelchair he or she is in. That is the power soccer I fell in love with.