“The increasing unrest in the land and intensifying protests in the streets are a necessary lament for a collective dream that has been lost. Not simply the loss of the ‘American Dream’ of a consumer society and endless economic growth; but, the loss of the real dream, the dream behind the dream, the dream of an America that has not been yet.” This statement is from my friend and storyteller/mythologist Michael Meade about the current Occupy movement across the country. This was part of a Huffington Post piece that Michael did on October 29 called “Looking for the Dream of America.” On Monday morning, I was at Occupy Oakland to do an interview with KPFA-FM’s Davy D’s Hard Knock Radio. Standing in front of the tents by city hall at a plaza renamed Oscar Grant Plaza (for the unarmed young man killed by a Bay Area Rapid Transportation police officer nearly two years ago), we discussed the growing occupations of public and private spaces to counter the deepening gap between the wealthy and powerful from the rest of us—who seem to be losing more political power as well as economic means. These two things are linked, and people are rising up in a way we have not seen in forty years to say enough is enough: We need real democracy, real political power and independence, and a real means to live. We need the dream that ties us all together, not just a few. As many of you know, I’ve been going around the country promoting my new book “It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing.” I’ve had 60 to 800 people come to may talks/readings in bookstores, universities, colleges, high schools, juvenile halls, community gatherings, and more since late September in cities like Salinas, CA; Chicago; New York City; New Jersey; San Diego; Los Angeles; Pasadena; Long Beach; Grand Rapids, MI; San Francisco; and Oakland. Tomorrow I go to Seattle to read at the Northwest African American Museum for Elliott Bay Bookstore at 8 pm. Next week I’m in the Wisconsin cities of De Pere/Green Bay, Madison, and Milwaukee. On November 12 I’m doing the “Three Louies” presentation with Louie Perez of the East L.A. band Los Lobos and Louie Torres, award-winning journalist and radio personality at the Vincent Price Art Museum, East L.A. College, at 2 pm. And on November 20, I’m doing an encore reading at Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural (www.tiachucha.com) for the new book from 5 to 7 pm. In my travels I’ve been to Occupy Wall Street at Liberty Plaza, Occupy L.A. at City Hall, and now Occupy Oakland (with a swing through Occupy Berkeley). Last Saturday, Trini and I were at Occupy L.A. listening to speakers, sitting in on teach-ins, talking to participants, and taking in the vibes and voices. My talks/readings are coinciding with an exciting time that is challenging the basic premises of this collapsing economy, the frayed political system, and as Micheal Meade says, of what our dream really is in this country. I hope to talk about all this during my presentations. A similar thing happened when my first memoir, “Always Running,” came out eighteen years ago. It was a year after the Los Angeles Rebellion awoke the country and the world to the disparities of urban wealth and poverty, and the rise of street gangs under these new conditions. As people move, as they organize, as they protest, we must also teach, talk, move imaginations and ideas, not just for what is, but for what can be. c/s
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