Last week, I was invited to watch Follow Me Home, Peter Bratt’s critically acclaimed film, followed by a discussion with Peter and Benjamin Bratt. The film has been re-released and is now available for free streaming online. The movie was originally released in 1996 and at its core is an extraordinary tale intended to empower every American citizen to find their home in this country, to feel like they truly belong in this place and to believe they’ve got an equal shot at prosperity for themselves and their families. But it is meant for today. It is a message that is more urgent today than ever before. As I watched, I had a hard time believing that it was created 24 years ago.
Drawing upon Native, African and Latino culture, Follow Me Home is a rebellious fable of four Los Angeles street artists who hatch a plan to cover the White House with vibrantly painted murals. Joined by a woman with a haunting secret, they set off on an impetuous joyride across a desert landscape steeped in magic, mystery, and danger.
I invite you to watch the film and then join me to attend three curated virtual events over the next three days (October 28-30) that will engage us all in frank conversation around the themes of race, class, and gender that the film explores. The three-day progressive event will bring together leaders and influencers in art and culture, faith and spirituality, activism and politics, and business and tech to reimagine the future of national leadership that includes the perspective and point of view of communities that have traditionally been ignored, marginalized or, worse, vilified.
It’s ambitious. But so needed in this moment.
The conversation won’t conclude with definitive answers or resolute actions. But, it will be a starting point. The start of awareness. The start of acknowledgement. The start of acceptance. The start of action. And, ultimately, the start of healing.
I prefer Sharpie extra fine point pens. I had drained my last two and still had 300+ postcards to write. I’ve avoided stores since March, and didn’t have the luxury of time to order some online.
I had ordered the box of Pilot Precise V5 pens for Dad. He was in one of his extended stays in the hospital, and still taking care of business as though he wasn’t going through daily dialysis treatments and weekly chemotherapy. He asked me to bring yellow legal pads and Pilot pens from home – those were his tools of choice. There was only one Pilot pen at the house and the local Staples was out of them. I ordered a box of them on Amazon and had them delivered the next day. He used one from the box of twelve before he passed.
That box sits in my office. I never cared for Pilot pens. They explode on planes into an inky mess. That was important at one time in my life. I generally like a thicker line; the Pilot’s are razor thin. The box has sat in my basket of writing materials – highlighters, markers, pens, Sharpies – since last May. Each time I glance at it I fondly remember Dad’s preferences, but I’ve never opened the box.
Until now. I took out a pen and began writing the message on the postcard. It was surprisingly perfect. The fine line allowed me to write the entire message without crowding. I thought of Dad with each postcard I wrote, and how if he were still alive, we’d be writing the postcards together. Voting was so important to him. When I lived in California, he called me every voting day to ask if I had voted (I had). He volunteered to ensure everyone could vote. Our last trip together was to Montgomery, Alabama, where, in his declining health, he insisted on walking across the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma. It was a cold October day, and we had to stop every few feet for him to rest and catch his breath. And he was so happy.
And last night I finished the postcards. Five hundred to voters in Georgia, encouraging them to vote. Written in my hand, with Dad’s pen. A labor of love.
Tonight’s presidential debate was a hot mess. A disaster. As many commentators lamented, “A sh!t show.” I am embarrassed that the two men running for the highest office of this country cannot follow the simple rules of a debate.
Listen to the question the moderator asks.
Listen while your opponent has a chance to answer.
If allowed, respond.
The amount of interruptions, by both men, but primarily by the current president, was abhorrent. This is what got us to where we are today. We don’t listen. You don’t have to agree with what the other person is saying, but for goodness sake, listen to them. In these debates you only have to listen for 120 seconds, and then you get your turn.
120 seconds. The amount of time to take 12 deep breaths. The amount of time to brush your teeth. Half the length of the average pop song. 120 seconds. Not an unreasonable request.
Here’s what I took away from the debate.
The current president has no manners. He does not respect law and order. If he did, he would follow the rules his campaign agreed to when invited to the debate. The amount of times the moderator had to ask him to be quiet was unbelievable.
The current president has no compassion. To mock another human about the death of one of their children is unconscionable. I don’t care what party you belong to. That’s cruel.
It is criminal that our country, one of the wealthiest in the world, has the homelessness, the hunger, the teetering on the edge of financial ruin, that we do. And that this impacts the poor and communities of color disproportionately. Add your voice and join the movement.