Osama bin Laden's face is all over the television. People are flooding the streets waving American flags. The President speaks of our unity and resolve as a nation. And 9/11 is on everyone's mind. This has all happened before. Except this time, ten years after 9/11, we are not grieving death; we are celebrating death. We have slain Osama bin Laden - the one who first slayed us. And we are singing and laughing and high-fiving. As if this is the end. As if violence can end a
Today, I was invited to present at Tubman Middle School in the inner-city of Augusta, Georgia. The students live in a depressed part of Augusta where textile workers used to live before the mills shut down. They have grown up with gang violence in their neighborhoods and go through routine weapons inspections at schools. These kids know violence. I have taken the film to middle-class kids at public and private schools but never inner-city kids with these kinds of experiences. I did not know what to expect. I had
The doors of the classroom swing open and thirty middle school kids tumble in, talking, giggling, tugging at each other, bouncing with energy.I am nervous. Divided We Fall has never been shown to junior high school students – we had aimed the film for colleges and high schools, but when the Fayerweather Street School invited me to teach their seventh and eighth grade class for a day, I was curious. I've planned to show the movie in the morning and discuss in the afternoon. Now, standing in the back
We spent this afternoon with the AKHTER family, a Muslim American family in Gilroy, California, who I first visited in October 2001. I remember eight-year old SAMIR (pictured) the most: "The kids call me bin Laden’s son, and all of their friends were putting their lunch pails on my face like this, and they called me bin Laden’s face. They smashed lunch pails on my face so that I couldn’t breathe. I said no, I’m not the bad guy, and I don’t want to be a bad guy.
Once again, I am living out of my suitcase. This happens a lot. Ever since September 11, 2001, my suitcase has been my home. That single event, that single day, has determined every part of my life. What I study. What I do. Who I know myself to be. And where I am. On this particular night, I am in Los Angeles, writing from a production office—a film production office. The place is an organized mess. Two rooms packed with editing equipment, camera gear, computers, stacks of papers