Luce (2019) - full transcript

A married couple is forced to reckon with their idealized image of their son, adopted from war-torn Eritrea, after an alarming discovery by a devoted high school teacher threatens his status as an all-star student.

So even though

it appears as if
an evening like this

is meant to honor us
for our academic achievements,

I instead ask
my fellow classmates

to honor the generals
that lead us.

Without our parents
and our teachers,

we would be troops
unprepared for the battles

that lay ahead of us.

We know the road won't be easy.

But with your love
and your faith,

we can be certain
we'll find a way.

So I hope it's not going
too far out of line

to ask my classmates to rise...

and to take this opportunity
to thank you...

our teachers...

and our parents...

for helping us become
who we're meant to be.

I hope you enjoyed that
because tomorrow

we'll be back
to driving you crazy.

It was incredible.

Here's my question:
How do we clone this guy?

How do we clone him?

Great job.

- Thank you.
- Excuse me.

- Mr. and Mr. Edgar?
- Ms. Wilson!

Guys, this is Ms. Wilson,

my history
and government teacher.

A pleasure.

We've heard
so much about you.

- Have you?
- Well, your class.

Luce can't stop
talking about it.

Is that so?

Ms. Wilson's tough,
but still one of my favorites.

Did you like my speech?

I did.

Ms. Wilson's
always saying

we should speak our minds
no matter the cost.

Amen to that.

Well, it's great
to finally meet you.

You too.

Luce is, uh, one of our best.

He's an important
example to the school.

We're very
proud of him.

You should be.

Excuse me. Dan...

I don't want
to give another one.

Why? It makes sense
they asked you.

You did
a great job.

I literally just
gave a speech.

The more public
speaking you do,

the better it'll look
for college.

You told them you'd do it,

What do you think?

So Ms. Wilson seems nice.


- Don't you mean a bitch?
- Peter!

When people say stern, they
mean bitch. You meant bitch.

- You didn't want to say bitch
- No, I said stern.

because you didn't want
to be politically incorrect

- but you meant bitch.
- No.

I know what stern
means, thank you.

She is a bitch though.

Can we not denigrate a woman

who probably had
to assume characteristics

in order to attain

a leadership role?

Anyway, I thought you said
it was your favorite class.

- I like the subject.
- He liked the subject.

In spite of
the bitch thing.

Okay, it's fine to
criticize powerful women.

Just don't use
the sexist language.

Strung together copy.

Oh! Nice!

You should make it


The next speech
they want you to give,

make it about you.


And listen...

You're a really good
public speaker

and you're an
excellent debater.

But you have
your own story to tell

and I think
you should tell it.

It gives people
something to grab onto.

Am I overstepping?

It's good advice.

Just want to be helpful.

You are.

I'm going to get
back to work now.


Sorry for interrupting.


You're gonna lose
a limb like that.

See my trig textbook?
I stashed it here yesterday.

No, it's not here, Orlicki.

- Fuck me.
- You do realize

everyone gets their
own locker, right?

Mine's on the other
side of the building,

- makes me late all the time.
- Ah, shit! Orlicki!

Heard our boy here got asked to
give another speech last night?

- Seriously?
- Oh, motherfucking

Nelson Mandela over here!

I don't get why
I never get asked.

'cause you're a C+ student.

The entire speech would be
about porn and blunts.

Ah! Fair enough.

Ah! Ah! Ah!

Oh, shit! Check it out!

Hey, yo, ladies!

- Stephanie Kim, what's good?
- Let's go.

Why you staring at Luce,

I'm talking to you.

Not everyone likes
your big mouth.

Your mama does.

She loves my big mouth.

Loves it all
over that pussy!

Man, you're so gross!

Sorry, bro.

Hey yo, I'll see you
all at practice.

A law is a law.

Pole-tests used to be law.

So was segregation.
Red lining.

That's not the same.

Explain why.

It's just not.

Things were
different back then.

Different how?

Well, like that was
a different time.

Social norms were different.

People's expectations,

their attitudes...

Is this not important to you?


It is.

You might want
to speak more clearly.

I can't hear you.

It is.

Keep in mind,
that for her,

this knowledge is
incidental but for you

it can be
life or death.

So you might want
to treat this material

with the seriousness
it deserves, Mr. Meeks.

Which reminds me,
I'm almost done

grading your assignments.
I apologize,

it's taking me a little
longer than usual but,

you'll have them
back soon.

All right...

Yo, Deshaun...

Yo, Deshaun!

Let's have a look in here.

- Let's see...
- He-he! That feels funny!

Oh yeah?

What about that?

Does that feel funny?


How do you feel about
a weekend trip to Cornell?

- This weekend?
- Yeah.

Maggie's sister said she'd make
a call and get Luce some

one-on-one time
with the professor.

This weekend we have
the sip-and-see.

- Oh my God!
- If you don't want to go,

you should have said, right?

Yeah, well, it's not that
I don't want to go. I mean,

- I don't want to go, but...
- No, you just hate babies.

I do not hate babies.

I mean, I love babies!

But you hate babies.

Well, I'm just shocked
you're prioritizing

your ex's sip-and-see over
your son's college education,

but hey, that's just me.

Okay. Punchline and point made.

Okay, fine.
You're in charge of picking up

whatever someone brings
to a sip-and-see.

Got it. Okay,
see you at home.

See ya.


Yes, this is Amy.

On your mark...




- Mrs. Edgar.
- Hi.

I appreciate you coming
back down here.

Well, you have to make time
for what's important.

Ain't that
the truth.

- Kids are lucky to have you.
- Thank you.

- Luce too.
- Oh, we're lucky to have him.

We care a great deal
about his success.

- Peter and I too.
- Of course.

And I know
context matters.

Please, sit.

Given Luce's

you and Peter must have faced
quite a few challenges.

the language barrier,
the culture shock.

He's a resilient kid.

He is.
But it's also

a testament to
your parenting.

Well, thank you.

We had a lot of support,

especially in the
early days. I mean,

you don't pull a kid
out of a war zone

and have him turn out like
Luce without a lot of help.

I bet.

Which is why this
is so difficult.


Last week, the class
was given an assignment

to write in the voice
of an historical figure.

Some students picked FDR at the
start of the Great Depression

or even Fidel Castro

at the Bay of Pigs.

The goal was to get them
to think outside of the box.

Want to make sure you understand
where I'm coming from.


Who is this Frantz Fanon?

He was a pan-African

He argued that violence was
a necessary cleansing force,

that it was needed to
free colonized people

from their rulers.

- You-you teach this?
- I don't.


I won't pretend
to know what it's like

for Luce to confront
certain aspects of who he is

and it's not
within my purview

to say what a boy who spent
his first 10 years in...



What that might
have been like,

what kind of adjustments
he must have made

in order to fit in here.

And I don't know

- the details of his treatment...
- I'm sure you've heard

he went through
years of recovery

- and he showed no signs of...
- I-I didn't mean to imply...

I just want to be clear
that whatever

violence he both suffered and
inflicted during that time

was dealt with,
it's been processed.

Of course.

But with the climate
around school security

the way it is right now,
you can understand my concern.


Which is why I felt

I needed to search
his locker.

- I'm sorry?
- Amy...

He wrote a paper.

A paper in which
he describes

his belief that the solution
to a political problem

is to gun down those
with whom you disagree.

Right. But he was
assuming a character.

The assignment called
for this and you...

I found this in his locker.

- No.
- Amy.

No, I'm sorry.

I respect my son's privacy.

Now, he wrote a paper
that scared you. Fine.

That's between
you and him.

But I won't,
I will not violate

his right to the privacy
he's owed.

They're fireworks.

Illegal and very dangerous

They could put a hole
in the wall, let alone...

Where are you going with this?

Right now I'm the only one
who knows about them,

but what if someone else
were to find them?

If someone who didn't know
Luce the way you and I do

were to stumble on this within
the context of his background

having written this...

Take them.

Talk to him.

Who he is is too important
to this school

for him to fuck it up.

He can't fuck it up.

Talk to him, please.

I will.

You're the one who
keeps talking about Stephanie.

- I'm not!
- The fuck is wrong with you?

Shut it!
Get off me!

You should have kept
your mouth shut, little shit.

I told you!

Yo, what the hell! Come on!

- He told everybody!
- Fuck you!

If this gets out,
it's on your two.

- Both of you!
- Yo!

- Everything okay?
- Everything's fine, coach.

Luce, my office.

Sure thing.

You read the whole thing?


Okay, yeah, kids get
taken with ideas.

Look, he probably stumbled

across Frantz Fanon
on the internet

and went overboard.

I read the Communist Manifesto
when I was an undergrad

and called people
comrade for a month.

Yeah, well, I think he's
a little too smart for that.

Not too smart to have
explosives in his locker.

- They're fireworks.
- Illegal fireworks

- Still...
- that have explosive capacity,

I Googled this,
of a shotgun blast.

They're fireworks.

It's not shocking.

That is shocking.

Okay, so what?

- So what?
- What? What, our...

teenage soon-to-be
valedictorian son is,

- secretly a radical?
- No.

- A terrorist?
- No.

- No. Of course not.
- What then?

I don't know. It's just
something's going on

and I want to be
in front of it.

Oh shit.

Amy, what the fuck?

- Hey!
- Hey.

How was school?

What's going on?


How was school?
How was practice?


- Have you eaten?
- Not yet.

Oh good, because
your dad picked up curry.


Okay, put your stuff down
so we can eat.

- Cool.
- Great.

- Don't start without me.
- We won't.


- What was that?
- I don't want him to know

- we've gone through his things.
- We didn't.

Or make it seem we went behind
his back to his teachers.

- Amy...
- Come on, Pete.

How many years did it take us
to get him here?

How many nights did I crawl
underneath that bed

because he was too scared
to sleep in it?

What we've built.
That trust.

I won't risk it.
I won't.

I got everything ready.

Yes, I'll be by to talk
with the doctors tomorrow

and we'll be all set.


Rose, I told you already, okay?

Okay. I'll see you soon.

I love you too.

Okay, so who told you?

- Told us what?
- You clearly know.

What do we know?

You don't... You don't know?

What is it that you think
we do or do not know, honey?


Coach Reeves
offered me Captain.

- Wow!
- Whoa.

Oh my God!
That's amazing!

Yeah! It's dope.

Says I'll be
good example

for certain teammates.
But between track

and debate prep, plus the extra
shit Wilson has us doing...

What, how do you mean?

Nothing. It's just...

You really don't like her,
do you?

It's complicated.

Try me.

Okay. You remember
Stephanie Kim, right?

- Sort of...
- Not a clue.

She came over one time last...

- Go on.
- Anyway.

There were rumors
going around about her

after this party
a few weeks ago.

- What kind of rumors?
- Oh, people were drinking

and no one really knows
what happened, but, um...

Stephanie got
kind of messed up.

Something happened
with some guys.

Then Wilson got involved

and no one really
could prove anything

but she kept using Stephanie
as like an example.

turning her
into a victim.

- How?
- Well,

we'll be talking about women
in Middle East or something

and she singles her out,
says some shit like,

"We all know firsthand
how important it is for women

to have the courage
to stand up, to fight."

I don't understand.

It's not exactly
singling her out.

It's how she says it.

Like everyone's
a symbol to her.

Stephanie, Deshaun,
we all exist

to confirm the world
is the way she sees it.

So does she do that
kind of thing with you?

Are you kidding?

I'm a fucking
poster boy.

Black kid who overcame
his tragic past,

the example why America
works. It's bullshit.

So you don't like her
labeling you?

I don't like tokenism.

What's the difference
between punishing someone

for being a stereotype and
rewarding them if they're not?

One of the two
comes with benefits.

What you'd call a benefit,

I'd call a responsibility
I didn't ask for.

Okay, what about responsibility
to tell the truth?

- What?
- Peter...

So, one of the

benefits you get
is benefit of the doubt.

- A chance to explain yourself.
- Explain myself?

- Enough.
- Whereas another student

might not. So...

You have anything
you want to tell us?

- Peter, stop.
- About what?

Ask your mom.

Finish your food.

Knock knock.

- Hey!
- We've been summoned.


Prosecutor Edgar,

take it easy on me today.
How are you all doing?

Ms. Wilson, so glad
you could join us.

Luce was hoping to get some
help building his next case.

I figure you and Principal Dan
are the all stars.

We're going to nationals
again this year, right?

- 100 percent.
- Boom!

That's why this one's
my thoroughbred.

Okay, let's have it.

Ms. Wilson...

Of course. Let's, uh,
let's hear what you got.

- What are you doing?
- Jesus, Pete!

Doesn't it make sense
just to get rid of them?

They're so dangerous.

We hang on to them

until we get to
the bottom of this.

They'll be
safe here.



My argument

is premised on
two court cases:

Goss v. Lopez,

and New Jersey
v. T.L.O., 1985.

In Goss, an Ohio school
suspended nine students

for delinquent behavior,

but the Supreme Court found

that depriving students of
their right to an education

due process

is a violation
of their civil rights.

Ms. Wilson,
do you agree with that?

I'm sorry?

Do you agree that those kids

were deprived of
their civil rights?

I don't know the specifics
of the case but

- the principal...
- Principal makes sense, right?

Education is a civil right.

Everyone should have
civil rights.

- Right.
- In the second case

a student is accused of smoking
in the school bathroom,

but there's no proof.

The charge is premised
on a teacher's suspicion.

So the principal searched
her purse and found cigarettes

and marijuana-related

Do you agree with that?

What did the court say?

The court found that students

have a reduced expectation
of privacy in schools.

It makes sense.

Does it?

A school is a unique
social institution.

It's populated by people
who aren't adults

in the eyes of the law.
People who have to be here.

- Students.
- Yes.

Students are half people.


is there a specific
question you have

that Ms. Wilson
might be able to address?


Thanks Ms. Tennyson.

Um, basically my question

that I hope Ms. Wilson
can help me with

is around this idea
of reduced expectation

versus the affirmation by the
court of student civil rights.

Like what are the criteria
for evaluating

what's a violation
of privacy?

Is privacy a civil right?

I think so.

Maybe the law isn't so sure.

If I went through your desk
without you knowing,

would you feel like
your privacy was violated?

Yes, I would.


Feelings aren't
a legal argument.

In the New Jersey case,
the teacher assumed

the girl was guilty
because of her feelings.

That's called
reasonable suspicion.

It's all the police need
to search your car.

So it's about what's reasonable.

That's what courts are for.

Really it's just about
people though, right?

Whether they conform
to what we think they are.

It's not that simple.

Nothing ever is.

Thank you so much
for your help, Ms. Wilson.

This was,
this was great, right?

Any time.

God, that kid is
something else, isn't he?

All right, people,
phones away.

I see you, Sasha.

And you too,
Stephanie Kim.

- All right.
- It's show time!

You fucked up.
And bro,

you can't just go slamming
Orlicki against a locker.

He's out there
telling everybody.

It's nothing half the school
didn't already know.

Besides, I talked
to Stephanie.

You two still talk?

Not really, but someone
had to resolve this

- before it blows up.
- Is she gonna be cool?

- Yeah.
- Is she gonna be cool?

Everything's going
to be cool, man.

Just squash the beef
with Orlicki, all right?

- Corey!
- All right, man. Whatever.

Yo! Deshaun's
one bold-ass nigga.

Since Wilson got
him tossed off the team,

he's been messed up.

I'll catch you later, man.

- Yo.
- Yeah.

We agreed on this.

If you live with me,
you have to be responsible for...

All I ask is if you're staying
on top of your medication.

I know what the doctor
said, Rosemary.

It doesn't mean
I'm comfortable with it.

Out of everyone in this family,

I've been there for you
time and time again.

I resent that.


I gotta go, Rose.
We'll talk tonight.

- Everything okay?
- Everything's fine.

Family stuff?

Personal business, yes.


Um, thanks for your
guidance this morning.

It really helped
make my case.

I'm glad.

You wanted to see me?

I wanted to talk to you about
your assignment, Luce.

What about it?

I assumed you spoke
to your mother...

I haven't gotten it back yet.
How could I talk my mom of it?

Well, I'll just say, uh...

After reading it,
I have some concerns

for some of
the arguments you made.

Well they aren't mine.

Excuse me?

The arguments,
they're Frantz Fanon's.

I realize that.

The assignment was
to write in his voice.

You really think
I believe that stuff?

Well, I don't know.

If I didn't know you, Luce,
it would be reasonable for me

to read that assignment
and conclude...

But you do know me.

Look, um,

I'm sorry if I scared you.

I just wanted to do
a good job.

You did do a good job.

I mean, I get it.

- Get what?
- Well, I get

how someone who learned how to
shoot a gun before driving a car

writing something like that

might make someone
freaked out.

I just hope you know me
better than that, Ms. Wilson.

I like to think
that I do, Luce.

Anything else you wanted
to talk to me about?


Tell your mom
I'd like her to call me.


Because I want
to speak with her.

What about? I mean,

I guess it's about me unless you
guys are friends or something.

Please have her
call me, Luce.

Thank you for
stopping in.

Of course.

Hey, Ms. Wilson...

What's your favorite holiday?

- Excuse me?
- What's your favorite holiday?

I don't know.
Christmas maybe.

Mine is Independence Day.

Before I came here,

I didn't know
a single holiday and

I remember my mom trying
to explain what they were.

It's a hard concept to grasp
if you've never of it,


once I learned them all,
my favorite, hands down,

has always been
Independence Day.

Why is that?

I like what it represents.




Also I love the fireworks.
The lights.


Luce, I'd like to remind you
that you're still a student here

and I am your teacher.

And regardless of what you may
view as some sort of injustice

- What are you talking about?
- ...or unfair,

just remember how things
are organized around here.

I'll see you around.

- The financials from Cusack.
- Thanks, Beth.

Quarter end payments
went out, right?



Ms. Wilson.
How are you?

Why is she calling you?

Well, last I checked
I'm one of two parents.

Yeah, but she was
communicating with me

and now she's calling you?

Well, we're both available
to talk about our son.

This woman has some kind
of vendetta against Luce.

- Vendetta? Really?
- Yeah.

She has some thing
with him and now,

now she's trying to
divide and conquer.

Nice word choice.

What she did
with Stephanie Kim

and what she's trying
to do now with Luce,

this woman holds different kids
to different standards based...

Did you see or hear what
she did to that girl?

- I've heard enough to know.
- From Luce, yeah.

Yes, from our son, who has
always been honest with us.

Except about having illegal
fireworks in his locker.

He didn't lie about that.

- Is that so?
- Not telling us

and lying are two
different things.

And what if there's
a pattern here?

- A pattern?
- Yeah.

The paper, the fireworks,
the threat...


- We have to be at least open to
- Absolutely not.

the possibility that
our son is capable of...

Of what? Capable of what?

Tell me you know
he's a good kid, Pete.

Tell me if shit
hits the fan,

we aren't about
to abandon our son.

- We're not going to abandon him.
- Our black son to a system

that already wants
to shit all over him.

It's our job to protect him,
to have his back.

That's part of it.
It's our job

- to do what's right.
- By him.

To do what's
right by him.

- Luce!
- Yeah?

- Got a minute?
- You said you'd do this my way.

- Yeah.
- What's up?

Did you threaten
your teacher?

- Honey...
- Excuse me?

You heard me.

Did I threaten...?

Ms. Wilson called.

Ms. Wilson said
I threatened her?

Did you?

- What did she say?
- She said...

Never mind what she said.
What did you do?

She asked me
to come and see her.


I thanked her for helping
me with my debate case.

- She helped you?
- Yeah, her and Principal Dan.

Why would I
threaten her?

What did she want
to talk to you about?

A paper.
We had a misunderstanding.

I apologized for it.

You say anything about
the 4th of July?

- What?
- Honey...

- About fireworks?
- How is that a threat?

Did you or did you not say
something about the 4th of July?

I said the 4th of July
was my favorite holiday.

Why would you say that?

I thought we were
having a conversation.

She says I threatened her?

I need you to be straight
with me for a second.

- When am I not?
- Hey!


So is there anything
you want to tell us?

- No.
- You sure about that?

Am I sure about what?
Jesus, if you guys

- want to ask me...
- Why did you have

illegal fireworks
in your locker?

- What?
- Why did you have

illegal fireworks
in your locker?

- I didn't.
- Luce, don't lie to me.

- I'm not.
- Luce!

How would you know
what's in my locker?

- Harriet told us.
- Harriet has a lot to say.

Never mind what she said.
Did you or didn't you?

- Not that I know of.
- Oh, you know what?

- Fuck this.
- We share lockers.

The guys on the team
share lockers.

Half my shit is in Orlicki's,
half his shit is in mine.

I don't know what 90%
of the crap at the bottom is,

- let alone who it belongs to.
- So...

So not everything in
my locker belongs to me.

Okay, good.

That's good.

Now, you understand

why it's important
to know

not only what's in your locker,
but who it belongs to.

- Yes.
- Right?

You can't blindly
trust people to...

Okay. You seriously
buy this shit?


So someone just happens to leave
a bag of illegal fireworks

in your locker
and you have no idea?

And then this teacher,
who you don't like,

unjustifiably searches
your locker and finds them.

You're just an
unlucky victim

- of circumstance, right?
- It's the truth.

That doesn't sound
like the truth to me.

That sounds like bullshit.

You believe me?

We can figure this out.

I didn't tell anyone
about Stephanie or the party.

Corey should calm
the fuck down.

I talked to him,
everything's fine.

Yeah, tell that to the bruise
on my fucking neck.

You gotta understand
where he's coming from.

Your dad went
to Dartmouth.

Your granddad
went to Dartmouth.

Your dog could probably
get into Dartmouth.

doesn't have that.

A whiff of something up with him
and he's the next Deshaun.

Can't be walking around
at night smelling high, bro.

You seriously think
someone's gonna stop you?

I'm not interested in being
the next Deshaun either.

You're not like Deshaun.

We're both black,

Yeah, but he's
like black-black.

Then what am I?

You're Luce.

What are you doing?

Where were you?

I went for a run.
What do you want?

I just wanted
to apologize

for before.

- Your father...
- ...thinks I'm a liar?

No, he-he's confused.
We both are.

Confused about what?

I told you the kind
of person Wilson is.

You don't conform
to what she wants

and suddenly
you're the enemy.


I know it can seem unfair
how much people expect of you.

You don't, though.

You can't.

And sometimes
I'm working so hard

to keep this
all together,

- it feels like it'll all just...
- What?

- Just what?
- I can't be perfect.

No one expects you
to be perfect.

Wilson does.

Believe it or not, she's
just trying to protect you.

She's trying to protect
her idea of me.

Same as you and him.

That's not fair.

Unfair doesn't make it


I have to get up early
for practice in the morning.

Good night, Amy.

Hey, Luce, it's Stephanie.

I fucking hate it.

Wilson said I was an example of
a woman suffering in silence.

So everyone
is gossiping again.

You were probably right
for us to take a break.

I just wish we could
talk like we used to.


You look different.

New weave.

What kind?

- Indian.
- Oh!

- Thank you.
- Here you go.

What do they
have you taking now?


Makes me sweat like the devil.


what is this?

That's Greek yogurt.

Just taste it.

All right.

Oh, it's good-No!

You looked so...

Ah! Now this
what I call breakfast.

Shut your mouth. Since when
you ever turn down some bacon?

I know we ate this
our whole lives but,

this instant shit's
made of poison.

I don't know how
we made it through.


Ms. Wilson?

- You know Harriet?
- Ms. Wilson's my teacher.

Oh! Ain't the world

- tiny and great!
- I just came here

to pick up snacks
for the fundraiser.

This young man
was just telling me

about something
called paleo.

It's a diet,
how the cavemen ate.

Cavemen didn't
live long, Luce.

Well, I bet
they went out

with great abs.

Ain't he the cutest?

Ms. Wilson,

Rosemary should come to our
Culture Month Gala at school.

I'm giving a speech.

- Oh! Is that right?
- Yeah.

I don't normally get
to go places,

so that would be
a treat for me.

She should come.
Right, Ms. Wilson?

We'll talk about it.


It was nice meeting you,


And, um, I hope
you can make it.

Me too!

- Bye.
- Bye.

What kind
of black name is Luce?

Hey, Pete.

Pete, you want
to give him a whirl?

Hey! Who is that?
Who is that?

Thank you. I'm really glad
you guys could make it.

How you doing?

How many times
do I have to tell you no?

You have to start talking
to a little kid.

It's a fucking car wash.
What are you arguing about?

What the hell's
he doing here?

Come on, man, look.
No team events.

- It's a...
- This has been explained to you.

Bro, I'm not arguing
with you over no car wash.

- What's your problem?
- It's a fundraiser for the team.

Coach Reeves, it's my fault.
I invited Deshaun.

I didn't realize
it violated

the terms of his agreement
with the school.

Do you mind if we talk about
an assignment real quick

before he goes?

As long
as it's quick.

Cool. Thanks, Coach.
Come on, bro.

- Sorry about that.
- No, fuck his bitch ass, man.

That nigga always undermining
with me, bro, from day one.

Well we're getting killed
on these distance events

without you, bro.
Corey can't run for shit

unless there's pussy
waiting at the finish line.

Don't know. If it's anything
like his sister's pussy,

that shit got stains on it.

So I've heard.

What's going on with you
and Mike Jeffs?

I've been seeing you hanging
with him and his boys.

I didn't know you all
were tight like that.

I don't know. It ain't like
future Nobel Laureates and shit.

You don't have to be
a Nobel Laureate

to know that Mike Jeffs
is bad news, bro.

Why you getting mixed up
with those guys?

What the fuck? Chill out,
all right? I'm good.

Damn, my pants
too low, too?

I gotta hike them up if I want
to make something of myself?

Na, my nigga, don't come over
here and try to patronize me.

Come on, man.

I don't know if you've
been busy distracted

with Wilson and the rest of
these fake-ass motherfuckers

sucking your dick 24/7
but my shit is done, bro.

It's finished.

As a matter of fact, how many
time we smoke together, Luce?

How many times you come
to my crib and blaze?

Yo, Wilson finds weed in my
locker and now I'm off the team.

That's my scholarship gone.

Why me and not you, my nigga?

Answer the question.
Why me and not you?

- I don't know.
- You don't know.

You know what the fuck
I'm talking about.

It's because
they want you to win.

Otherwise, all their little up
by your own bootstraps bullshit,

it don't apply.

But then again,
why am I trippin'?

Gotta have at least
one Obama, right?

I didn't ask
for this, man.

Oh, you didn't
ask for this.

Word. So, what, you want
to trade or something?


Yeah, I didn't think so.


I want to make this right.




Oh, God.


- No, no...
- Shhh.

I was...

I was walking and I was trying
to make it there and then...

the food, the food was...


- I'll clean it. I'll clean up.
- You're okay.

- I'll clean it up.
- Shhh.

Breathe. Breathe.

Hey! Sorry I'm late.

No. Please, sit.

They screwed up the order.
I asked for cappuccinos

and they gave us

- I like these more.
- Oh, you do?

Can't make it to the dinner
without at least three of them.


- Thank you.
- No, thank you for, um,

meeting me.
This must be a little weird.

It is.

Okay. Um, yeah, well
I guess I was hoping

you could help me with
something to do with Luce.

We don't really
talk a lot anymore.

- Oh, you don't?
- Not since we broke up.


You didn't know
we broke up?

I didn't know you dated.


Um, for how long?

Um... Mrs. Edgar,

I don't feel

- telling you about me and Luce.
- Yeah, of course.

Because I don't know
why you want to know.

- Okay. Let me explain myself.
- Yeah.

- This is about Harriet Wilson.
- What?

I need to know
what she did to you.

Because Luce told us

that when she found out
what happened at the party...

Luce swore he wouldn't tell
what happened at the party.

I thought he didn't know
what happened.

I should go.

No, wait.
Stephanie, please.

Listen to me.

I just want to know
the truth, Okay?

Now, if Ms. Wilson made you
feel like whatever happened

should be some kind of
a political statement,

then that's wrong of her.

As women what we need to do
is support each other.

Do you understand?

I'm not sure.

I want to support you.

You deserve to be supported.


But for me to do that
I need to know what happened.

It's easy to say that.

But once you know something,
you can't un-know it.

I want to know,
no matter what.


Harriet, please...

I'm sorry. I can't think of
any other way to resolve this.

You suffer from
a condition, Ro.

And it's clear my home is no
longer an ideal environment.

You sound like
one of them doctors

she about to
dump me with again.

- I'm not dumping you.
- Oh really?

That's what it
feels like, Harriet!

Come on, now.

Don't make a scene.
Don't make a scene.


- Ro...
- It's fine.

It's fine, it's fine...

It's fine!


Orlicki had a party.

I was drunk.

I had gone with two friends.
All three of us were drunk.

Please don't tell anyone
this, it's embarrassing.

No, no, this is between us.
I promise.

People kept having shots of
stuff that tasted like syrup

and I just kept drinking it
because it was easy

but I got dizzy.

I lost my friends.

Orlicki found me and told me
to go lie down in the basement.

It was dark.

I couldn't see.

I felt my way
over to the couch

but there were
people there.

Next, someone said we should
play the Santa Claus game.

What's that?

It's this stupid game
that guys play

where a girl gets passed
around from lap to lap

and depending on how far
she lets them go

or how much they like you
sitting on them,

they rate you
from one to three.

Ho ho hos.

My God, that can't be real.

There are worse games.


they started
passing me around.

I kept thinking,

what if I throw up
right now?

How embarrassing
would that be?"

When they started,
they were laughing.

But the longer
it went on...

And it felt like
it went on forever.

All I could hear
was breathing.


and counting.

One, two,



One, two...

At some point

I definitely said

I wanted them to stop.

But maybe it sounded
like I was joking

or maybe it was just something
I said to myself in my head...

There were hands

It was like
they were swallowing me.

And sometimes
in their laps

I could feel...





When I woke up,
Luce was there.

He said he found them
and told them to stop.

And he stayed with me
the rest of the night.

Is it possible that...?

Was Luce one of the guys?

He wouldn't do that.

- But he...
- He just wouldn't.

What happened
with Ms. Wilson?

There were
a lot of rumors.

It was
at the same time

Deshaun Meeks got
kicked off the team

because Wilson found
weed in his locker.

She searched
Deshaun's locker?

And called
the cops.

I didn't want that.
What would I say?

I couldn't
remember anything

and I definitely didn't tell
everyone I was drunk.

What did Luce say?

He said I was right
not to tell.

Because he was protecting
his friends.

Because he was
protecting me.

He didn't want me to do
anything I didn't want to do.

Why did you two break up?

I don't know.

I miss him.

He's the best boyfriend
I ever had.


I'm really sorry
for what happened.

Don't be.

Everything is fine now.

- Hey!
- Hey.

Where were you?

Emergency patient.

Oh, really?

- Karen seems good.
- Yeah, she is.

They're happy.

The baby fidgets.

Mm-hm. I think that's
just a baby thing.

Are you drunk?

So you don't think it's
that baby in particular.

How would I know?

I mean,
I don't know, so...

how would I know?



Mm, yeah,
I guess you wouldn't.


You know, it's not Luce's fault

you were denied diaper
changing privileges.



Look, we made a choice.

I'm okay with that as long
as you recognize it cost us.

Which means?

I did want something
different once.

Ten years and
you're trapped.

Your words.

Well, you said it.
You wanted something different.

- I did, yeah.
- Like what?

Look, I'm proud of our son.

Okay, I love him.
I love him

more than I'll ever
understand, okay?

But we spent years
with him in therapy

and rehabilitation.

Our friends
couldn't understand

why we didn't just
have a kid of our own.

And so while they
fell away doing

what normal
fucking people do,

we worked our asses off
to give him a life,

at the expense of our own.
So to pretend that

that didn't
cost us anything

- is bullshit.
- I wasn't pretending.

You are!

You are.

You want so
desperately for him

to be what you want him to be,
you're ignoring

what's right
in front of you.

What he is, is

- our son.
- Right.

And nothing's going
to change that.



fuck this.

Fuck you.

I came here

to America,

to this school,

and I found myself.

When I first met my mother,
she couldn't pronounce my name.

She tried over and over
to get the emphasis

on the syllables
correct, but...

she just couldn't.

So my father suggested
that they rename me.

They picked Luce,

and, uh...

I thought about that
when I was figuring out

what to say
to you all tonight.

And I realized how lucky
I am to be an American.

Because here I got
the chance to start over.

To redefine myself.

Here we can be who we choose.

Remember that fish
we got him for his birthday?

- Dennis.
- Yeah, that's right.

Yeah. Poor Dennis.

Yeah. The way he just
pulled him out

and threw him across
the room like that.

Like a piece
of deli meat.

"I just wanted
to see him fly, mom."

We didn't screw up,
did we?


Everything's fine.

So, what does it mean
to speak in code?

Well, it tells you about
a particular group.

The necessity to have
a shared vocabulary.


To have common struggles
in a society.

You see,
language is a bond.

It's how we tell each other
apart, but more importantly,

it's how we stick together.

Excuse me, Ms. Wilson,

I need you to come
with me please.

Right now.

Where's my sister?

She works here. She is here.

- Rosemary!
- Where's my sister?

Rosemary! I'm right here.
I'm right here.

Now come on,
let's go home.

- You don't want me at home.
- That's not true.

You won't...
You're ashamed of me.

I am not.

You hate me.

- Don't talk nonsense, Ro.
- You hate me.

Shh. Look at me.

Hey, hey!
Put those phones away.

You're embarrassed.
You're embarrassed!

- You're embarrassed!
- Stop this!

Stop it right now, Rose!

She's embarrassed!
She's embarrassed of me!

You're embarrassed of me!

I am your black
nigger bitch sister!

This your blood.
Not these white folk.

I am your blood.
You can't get rid of blood.

You can't run from blood!
I am your sister! You...


- She's-she's sick officers.
- Don't run!

Relax! Calm down!


Get off of me!
Get off of me!

- Calm down.
- Get off of me!

Relax or
you'll be tased.

- Calm down.
- Get off of me!

I'm going to tase you!

- Calm down! Please!
- Relax!



Harriet, Harriet...

Calm down!

Can you cover her up?

Can you please
just cover her up?

Put the phones down.
Get back to class now.

Give me your phone.
Come on!

I want every single phone
in this hallway

in my office
right now.

Every cell phone!

My God! I've never seen
anything like it in my entire life.

It was insane.

Who knew that Ms. Wilson's
family was so fucked up?

I am your black, nigger...

- This was today?
- Yeah, it's crazy, huh?

Oh my God!

- Oh, come on.
- Oh, fuck.

Where's Harriet?

Um, I think she spent
most of the day

at the police station
with her sister.

Just goes to show you.


Nothing, it's just...

You never really know what's
going on with people.

Like, in life.
Outside of what you know.

I shouldn't have said
she was a bitch.

Well, I think I owe you
an apology, Luce.

- For what?
- Really.

You've never given me any
reason to doubt your integrity.

You should know
we got your back.

- No matter what?
- No matter what. Asshole.

Put your phones down,
get back to class now.

Who is it?

I need to talk to you
about Luce.

Harriet, if you Googled
"model student"

Luce Edgar's picture would
come up on the computer

and now you're telling me that
this kid, graffiti-ed your home?

It's not just
the graffiti, Dan.

No, he also wrote
an upsetting paper.

- He argued violence...
- A paper

that you no longer
have a copy of.

I gave it to his mother.

An upsetting paper
where it sounds

like he did exactly what the
assignment asked him to do.

I know the difference
between miscommunication

and provocation. I can tell
the difference between them.

Isn't there a chance,
just maybe,

that what he wrote
just went over your head?

I don't mean that
as a dig.

Come on,
I think you're brilliant.

I think you're articulate,
you're a great teacher,

but you know, we all misread
signals from time to time.

There's an allegation
of sexual assault.

A student
came to me and said

Luce sexually assaulted
her at a party.

- Which student?
- Dan...

You're talking
about a crime now.

I'm not gonna ruin a kid's
life because you come here

with some unsubstantiated
accusations and hunches.

Then let me prove it.

Hey, what's up?

I didn't buy it before but
maybe you're right, maybe

she has some kind of weird
vendetta thing for Luce.

Okay, hold on.

She doesn't get
what she wants out of you

so then she comes to me.

Then when that doesn't
work she goes to Dan.

She's having a personal crisis,
she's taking it out on our son.

Just let me handle it.
Just let me.

- Okay.
- Okay. Bye.

What are you
doing home?

Hey! I, uh,

just needed to pick up
a few things before practice.

- You see Dan's email?
- Yeah.

I'm not sure
what it's about.

I guess we'll just
wait and see.

Guess so.

I'm, um, I'm taking
your advice you know.

About what?

The speech.

I'm making it more personal.
I think you'll be proud.

I'm sure I will be.

So, um,

I'll see you
at the meeting.

- Six o'clock sharp.
- Great.

Why didn't you tell me
you talked to Stephanie?

You didn't think
she would tell me?

I don't think either of us
have been great

at keeping each other
in the loop, Luce.

What are you
trying to prove?

What are you
trying to hide?

I'm not trying
to hide anything.

That's not the impression
I got from Stephanie.

- What did she say?
- You tell me.

You're the one
that talked to her.

- Stop it.
- Stop what?

- This game.
- What game?

- What did you do to that girl?
- What, you think I...?

Never mind what I think.
What did you do to her?

- I did the right thing.
- By lying?

She threatened to kill herself.
Ms. Wilson kept pushing...

By protecting
the people who hurt her?

I wanted her
to get better.

Then why didn't you
ask for help?

- She was better.
- I think you're lying.

- I'm not lying.
- Tell me the truth.

- I'm telling you the truth.
- Stop lying to me.

- I'm not lying.
- Tell me the fucking truth!

Why did you write that paper?

What if I told you
it's what I believed?

You believe in

hurting people
to make a point?

You wouldn't know.
You never read it, right?


I feel like...

you're all waiting for me
to confirm this thing...

that no one wants
to say aloud.

And I'm trying
so hard

not to be that.

But after a while you can't
help but think that maybe

- you're fighting a losing battle.
- What do you mean?

I mean

it's like I only get
to be a saint or a monster.

That's not true.
We always accepted you

for whoever you are.

I don't believe you, Amy.

And I feel like I'm suffocating.
Like I can't breathe.

That's why I'm here,
to help you and to protect you.

What if you're part of what
I need protecting from?

I'm gonna be late, um...

I'll see you
at the meeting.

I promise it'll be as
painless as possible.

We'll be just
down the hall.

When the time comes,
I'll escort you in and

you just tell them
what you told me.

And then that's it,
you're done.

Luce will be there?

I can have him step out when
it's time for you to speak.

What about his mom?

She'll be there.


Hey, hey, hey!

You're brave.

It's because you show
courage today, that

someone else doesn't suffer
like you did tomorrow.

You understand?



Five, six, seven, eight.

Parade rest.

♪ What? ♪

♪ What? ♪

♪ What? ♪

♪ What? ♪

♪ It's your time! ♪

♪ It's your time! ♪

♪ One! Two! ♪

♪ Yes, we can! ♪

♪ Yes, we can! ♪

♪ Hey! Hey! ♪

♪ Hey! Hey! ♪

♪ What? ♪

♪ What? ♪

A-ten hut!

Two, three, four... boom!

Hey, guys. Come on in.

How you doing, Amy?

How you doing, Peter?
Good to see you.

- Hey, Dan.
- Dan.

- You all right?
- Been better.

- How's the clinic?
- Busy. Always busy.

- Busy is good.
- Yeah.

Busy is always good.

Here she is.

Harriet Wilson.

You know
Peter and Amy Edgar.

- Good to see you, Amy. Peter.
- Good to see you, too.

Good to see you.

So we're just, uh, missing
the man of the hour here.

He should be along here.


- Hey!
- Hey. Sorry, sorry.

- I lost track of time.
- Lost track at the track.

Sounds like the Luce I know.

- How are you?
- I'm great, Principal Towson.

- How are you?
- Principal Towson.

Notice he's all formal
now that he's a senior.

Getting ready
for college, right?

- That's right.
- Smart man. Smart man.

Have a seat, guys.
Come on, sit down.

- So...
- I'd like to...

Go ahead.
You first.

Well, I guess
first things first.

There have been a series
of miscommunications

and I think rather than try
to hash all that out,

it's probably more productive
to just acknowledge

some tension has developed
between Luce and me.

It happens.

Signals get crossed
and we have to find

a way to untangle the knots,

even if we're not sure how those
knots got there in first place.

Definitely. And, um.

Um, I just want to apologize

for making you feel

I've taken on a lot
this semester,

and not that that's an excuse,
it's not but...

I haven't been my best self
lately and I'm sorry for that.

- Thank you, Luce.
- You're welcome.

This is going really
well, I think, so far.

Let's talk about
the threat.

Oh, I'm sorry for that too,
Ms. Wilson.


Are you admitting it now?

Like I was saying, uh,

given the stress
I've been under,

I'm sure what I said
sounded a bit...

No, no, no. I'm sorry,
but this isn't about some

problem of tone.

This is about
one person

suggesting violence
against another.

- Excuse me?
- You weren't there, Mr. Edgar.

There are interactions
that must be experienced

in order to appreciate
their intent.


I think you should choose
your words more carefully.

- My son has just apologized.
- Has he?

I-I think in the interest
of moving forward, Harriet,

it would be helpful for you to
acknowledge Luce did in fact

- apologize.
- Where were you last night?

- What?
- My home was vandalized.

Uh, just a second...

I want to know
where you were between

when school let out
and I got back to my house.

- I was out.
- Where?

Is my son being
accused of a crime?

He sure as hell
is about to be.

Because if he is,

if he is being
accused of a crime,

I want a lawyer.

It's fine.
I didn't do anything.

This woman's sister,

this woman's sister has just
gone through a very public

- mental breakdown.
- All right.

How do you know
she's not responsible?

- My sister wouldn't do that.
- Neither would my son.

All right, okay.

Everybody just... Luce,

Can you help us out here?

Can you tell us where you
were after school yesterday?

- I don't want to say.
- Where were you?

- With friends.
- Who?

See, he's lying, Dan.


Principal Towson,
I can explain where I was

but I do not want to
get people in trouble.

I respect
your discretion, but,

Luce, your mom,
your dad, Ms. Wilson,

we're all just trying to pin
down what's going on here, okay?

And if you know anything,
if you could help us with that,

it's-it's only going
to help you.

It's embarrassing for me.

You gotta be kidding.


Go ahead, Luce.

Please don't tell anyone
I'm showing you this.

It's a violation of trust.

Yeah! What up?

I don't want them
to get in trouble.

No one's gonna get in trouble.

All right, you guys
are good kids.

- We all know that.
- This is bullshit.

Hey, Harriet.
Excuse me.




I think that's
a really good choice for you.

I know it wasn't on your
original list but I...

You told her
to come to me.

- I'm sorry?
- You told her what to say.

Dan, what is she talking about?

Please, explain, Harriet.

I think Ms. Wilson's
just been through a lot.

Between what's happened
with her sister's breakdown

and someone
vandalizing her house.

She's confused.

Right, Ms. Wilson?
You're confused.

Luce, I'm going to need you
to step out for a moment.

I thought this
meeting was to get together

and figure things out.

I need to speak
with your parents

and Principal Towson alone.

- Sure.
- No.

He can stay.

Whatever you have
to say to us,

you can say
in front of him.

Your son brought illegal
fireworks onto school property.

- Excuse me?
- I searches Luce's locker

and I found illegal fireworks.

Why didn't you tell
me this, Harriet?

Well, hold on.
The kids share lockers, right?

Well, it makes sense that given
the kind of student Luce is

someone would think his
was the safe hiding place.

The fireworks could have
belonged to anyone.

I've learned my lesson.

I'm going to change
my combination

and we won't share
lockers anymore.

Okay. Harriet,
where are the fireworks now?



Where are they?

- What do you mean?
- I gave them to you.

I don't know what
she's talking about.


Nope. She called me

and she claimed
she found these fireworks.

She claimed my son
threatened her.

- Amy!
- And then she drags us

down here in front of you,
Dan, and threatens

legal action
against my son

for a crime he clearly
didn't commit.

I mean, I'm sorry
but are we done here?

Can my son go back to
being the student he was

before this woman
decided to go after him

on some kind of insane
witch hunt?

No, Peter...

I think

we're done here,

No, no, no. Dan...

Yeah, Harriet.

We're done.
We are done.

Amy, Peter,
thank you for coming.

I'm very sorry about this.
I will make it up to you.

I promise.
Luce, thank you.

- Good night, Principal Towson.
- Thank you.

All right, Ms. Wilson...


Stephanie Kim was in my office.

- Just don't say anything.
- No, Dan...

We're going to talk
tomorrow. okay?

- It's okay, we'll talk tomorrow.
- No.

I can heat up
leftovers if anyone wants.

No, I'm good.

- Is he mad at me?
- No, he's fine.

He's just...

Are you hungry?

I should probably
get to my speech.

Okay. Well, can't
wait to hear it.

Thanks, Amy.
Good night.

Whoa! That smells good.

I'm capable of a certain
level of domesticity.

Want some

No, thanks.

And the man period
continues unabated.

Can I get a ride to school?

You want me to drive you?

Yeah, why not?


I wonder what happened.

I guess I'll let you
know if school gets canceled.

This is an impossible situation.

If you hadn't of hidden
those fireworks, Harriet...

I've given this school
everything, Dan.

For 15 years I've

given everything
I have to these kids.

They're my life.

And you know I'm not
a liar. You know it.

We'll start with
a leave of absence.

There will be
an investigation.

Then, Harriet, I have
to tell you this school

can't stand
behind you.

No, no, no!

The fire marshal's
sending the kids home.


- Was anyone hurt?
- Mm-mm. No.

Good. That's good.

I think we have
an obligation here.

What does that mean?

Harriet's going
to lose her job.

There was a fire.

People might
have been hurt.

No one was.

Could have been Luce. Amy.

He was with us
all night, Pete.

- So if you're accusing...
- Really?

No, if you're accusing him,

just think carefully about
who's side you're on.

- Jesus...
- We both wanted this.

No, I wanted
a family.

I wanted something simple
and sane and normal.

Our lives didn't have to be
a political fucking statement.

I didn't want...


Oh, I think there has to be...

some kind of limit.

A limit to what? Tell me.

To how much
I love him?

To how hard
I've worked?

To ensure he had a chance
at life, at success?

No, Pete, I disagree.

There is no limit to that

and some random
accident at school...

- Ah, fuck, Amy!
- Listen to me!

Some random accident at school
is not going to change that.

So just tell me...

who's side you're on.

Our side, Amy.


My family's.

Thank you.

- Hey.
- Luce! Where are you?

I'm leaving school. The fire
was in Ms. Wilson's classroom.

I feel bad. I want to do

something nice for her.

Come home first.
I can pick you up.

I will in just a little.

Luce, wait.

Love you.

You gotta be joking.

Deshaun and I
got the team

to chip in for flowers.

Deshaun? Hm.



I'm allergic.

This is not okay, Luce.

I just want to talk.

Well, this is not okay.

That's awful.

You ever been
called that?


No wonder you're always

so pleased
with yourself.

What does
that mean?

You're mad people
put you in a box.

- You put me in a box.
- I protected you.

But not Deshaun.

After you busted him,

you had that meeting
with me and Corey

and all the other black
runners on the squad.

And you said
it is your solemn duty

to never be stereotypes.

Look at Luce.

Be like Luce.


And I remember them all
looking at me.

They weren't jealous.

They were just trying
to figure it out.

How do I get that?

And all I can think about
was Deshaun.

All he had was that
athletic scholarship

and you took it
from him.

You took it from him
because he wasn't me.

- Yes.
- Why?

Because for every Deshaun
Meeks I don't come down on,

there's a Luce Edgar
I can't lift out.

That's bullshit.

Why do we have to be
perfect to be accepted?

Boy, that's our life!

No, you're so
desperate for approval

that you'll eat your own
just to get it.

- Whose approval?
- Who do you think?

Everyone who made you feel like
being black wasn't good enough.

But I don't need their approval.
I'm not going to be

somebody's symbol just to
make them feel better.

You still don't get it.

You don't get it.

It's not just about you
and it's not about me.

America put you in a box.

And it's tight and it's dirty
and you can't move.

But guess what? Too bad.

We're all in there together,
whether you like it or not.

And only so much light
gets in that box, Luce.

Some people get it,
and some people don't.

But it's not on you to decide
who gets it and who doesn't.

You're damn right
it's on you!

It's on you.

After all,
who did you use to

do your little errands while you
were busy establishing alibis?

It's not the same thing.


You got a lot to learn,
little man.

Now you get the fuck
out of my house.

Get out of my house!

Shit! Shit!



Are you hiding
Christmas presents?

That's where you used
to hide my Christmas presents.

You were always
so surprised.

I'm good at
acting surprised.


Remember Dennis?


Of course
I remember Dennis.

I thought
we could try again.



You have your whole
future ahead of you.

Full of potential.

Hope you're right.

I know I'm right, honey.

I know.

Hi, everyone.

I want thank Principal Towson
for giving me this opportunity.

It means a lot to be able
to talk with each of you

about my story,

which I'm told
is pretty unique,

even though I still feel
pretty regular.

I'm lucky enough to have
two amazing parents

who when they saw
my picture

at seven years old
weren't scared.

Or if they were they did a
good job of hiding it because

the parents I grew up with were
nothing but loving and brave.


I came here
to America,

to this school,

and I found myself.

When I first met my mother,
she couldn't pronounce my name.

She tried over and over
to get the emphasis

on the syllables correct,
but she just couldn't

so my father suggested
that they rename me.

They picked Luce,
which means light.

Because my mom always said that

there was a little beam
of light shone inside me.

If only they could
sweep the darkness

of those first
seven years away.

I thought of that
as I was figuring out

what to say to you all tonight.

And I realized how lucky
I am to be an American.

Because here I got
the chance to start over.

Here we get to be who we are
and still be accepted

despite our flaws.

Here we get to tell
our own story.

This is mine.

When they first told me
my new name,

I was still just
learning English,

so I took it to be
the word "loose,"


which is defined
as something detachable,

not easily fixed in
place, or pinned down...