The Talk to Me actor (and co-author of a passionate new book about Darfur) applauds gritty novels and memoirs—and a man who famously tooted his own horn.
I had a website, and almost every third or fourth question I got was about Darfur and, more to the point, what can be done about it. I had gone to Sudan with John Prendergast, who is a senior adviser to the International Crisis Group. When we got back, he'd go to a rally in New York and I'd go to one at UCLA. But after answering some of these e-mails, I thought that instead of addressing this issue one person at a time, maybe we should come up with a book to get the information to a lot of people. We didn't want it to be wonky or didactic; we thought we could give a little history of the country and some ideas of what people around the world are doing (and what we personally were doing)—sort of an activist handbook.
We hope the book will be a way to keep bringing awareness to the situation so that people (a) become educated about it and (b) have tools to use instead of just saying, "That's terrible!" Because if politicians hear a unified voice from their constituency saying, " This is what we want or we're not going to elect you," they'll be hard pressed not to do something.
We know this is a fluid situation, and without constant attention the plight of the Darfuri will recede into the background and people will be concerned with the next thing. So really, the book is an exercise in vigilance.
Don Cheadle is the co-author of Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond (Hyperion); his new film is Talk to Me.