“Black America Needs Its Own President” – The Root
“Does the Second Amendment Only Apply to White People?” – The Huffington Post
“Negrophobia: Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and America’s Fear of Black People” – TIME
“We Don’t Need No Water: Black Rage, Ferguson and The Fire This Time” – Clutch Magazine
These are just five of the hundreds of headlines that have surfaced over the past few weeks reigniting the need for a serious discussion on race relations in America. Could a documentary help change the landscape of African Americans view of themselves and in turn the larger society? It might not happen over night, but celebrated Filmmaker, Radio Host, Father of two and New York Times Bestselling Author Tariq Nasheed hopes his newest film Hidden Colors 3: The Rules of Racism will certainly add to the empowerment of Black America.
Hidden Colors 3 features honest celebrity interviews from hip hop legend Nas, David Banner, comedian Paul Mooney, activist Dick Gregory and the leader of the post-traumatic slave movement, Dr. Joy DeGruy. Nasheed’s film explores the hidden truths about racism and African-Americans. A timely discussion as September 8, was slated as “Black Out Monday.” The kickoff to an international boycott where organizers urge “Buy Black or don’t buy at all,” which has amassed over 40,000 people on social media.
Before Nasheed began exploring African American history and Black empowerment in his Hidden Colors documentary series he was known for exploring the ins and out of dating and relationships, which is what he credits brought him even further into studying race and human interaction.
What was the transition like going from the King Flex persona in your relationship books to talking about these issues of race and culture?
Nasheed: A lot of people wanted to know what was the correlation between relationships and history. I always tell people there is a direct correlation between relationships and race/racism. For example, when you look at the Donald Sterling situation, it was about a relationship but it was based in racial politics. So, there is a real thin line there.
I wanted to dive into that (racial) side because we ignore systematic racism so much, because it is such an uncomfortable thing to talk about. Aside from my relationship books, I saw how certain people in the dominant society and especially the dominant media would deliberately omit the African influence in history and that made me want to get into this.
“There’s never been a real dialogue about race because every time we talk about race the conversation always ventures into what’s wrong with the black community.” You say this in the trailer, where should the conversation start to you?
Let’s talk specifically about white supremacy, which we’ve never talked about as a nation. We don’t even like to say the words “white supremacy.”
People starts saying stuff like, “well racism goes both ways.” No, racism doesn’t go both ways because racism is systematic. There is no systematic black racism. I ask people to tell me one law that benefits black people and disenfranchises other people. Those laws don’t exist.
When viewers watch the Hidden Color series what do want them to be thinking and talking about?
Nasheed: I want Black folk especially to think about economic empowerment which is going to translate to Black empowerment – that’s the problem we’re not empowering ourselves economically. There is no empowerment without economics. We try to socially empower ourselves, but you can’t really do that without an economic foundation. This is why are schools get shut down, this is why we get gentrified out of our communities because we don’t have an economic base to combat that.
We forget how economically empowered we were, the Tulsa, Oklahoma’s of the past and that was just one of the many Black Wall Streets. Integration, to us, basically means we get to buy stuff from other people, that’s all it is. And when we do that, unfortunately we think that we’re equal – that’s as close to being equal as we can get. But we can’t think in those terms.
If you had to pencil out your agenda for Black America what would be the first thing on that list?
Nasheed: The first thing on the list would be to circulate our money and practice group economics.
We have to practice group economics because when we do we can counter situations like our brother Eric Garner getting killed. We can create a political platform to get cops like that off the streets. We use our money to take in and take out politicians.
Speaking of Eric Garner, What conversations do you feel parents should be having with their children regarding interactions with the police? When I was growing up, I remember the ‘Don’t speak unless spoken to’ rhetoric.
Nasheed: That is the absolute wrong thing to tell children.
We have this thing where we tell children ‘bow your head, don’t look the cop in your eyes’ because we want to keep them safe and that’s understandable. But, when we do that we give white supremacy a pass.
The problem is white supremacy, we have to work on getting that out of the way, so that we can get a system of justice. We are human beings. We have human rights. We shouldn’t have to bow our heads or say ‘yes sir’ or ‘no sir boss.’ No, the white supremacists – they are the problem. We have to fix that problem. We have to get them out of office.
I keep reiterating the term “white supremacist” because we keep thinking white supremacist is a clan member but that’s just a white extremist. These cops who kill black folks are the white supremacist. It’s teachers who funnel black children into special education, that’s a white supremacist. We have to know, identify and call them out where they are. And this is going to make us come closer to protect ourselves.
Who would you say Black America should be listening to right now? Who do you see as the next generations’ spoke person or do we even need one?
Nasheed: That’s my thing, we don’t need a spokesperson. We just need a code. Black people get into this position where we want to put a leader in front of us and we should stop doing that. We want somebody to sacrifice they’re life for us and what happens is we get to hide behind the leaders and the leaders will excuse us from the work we need to do. If they get something done we will cheer them on and take those benefits. But if they get shot and marginalized, we’re like ‘oh glad it wasn’t me.’
In the white community, there is no White leader. There’s no one Jewish leader. There is no Asian leader. These are small groups too, but they are powerful groups. What they do is have a code of conduct. They all say that code of conduct is going to be our leader and if we abide by that that’s how we can empower ourselves.
We as a Black community have to get a code of conduct and abide by it. So the code of conduct is our leadership and it won’t get assassinated, it won’t get marginalized, it won’t get smeared in the media.
And what would that code start with?
Nasheed: Number one, economic empowerment and circulate our money within ourselves. Number two, stop letting outside groups come in and infiltrate us so we can get that pat on the head because that is a real mistake we’ve always made as African people. We have let other groups come in and they (not all) have ulterior motives and are manipulating us. That’s what happened in Africa.
What do you hope to add to the conversation on race relations with the Hidden Colors series?
I want Black people to wake up, to get up and do what we need to do as a group. I don’t want people to just get the DVD and be entertained by it. I want people to actually follow the steps that we cover, because this is our form of media. We really don’t have a major media outlet that is speaking to our needs, that is going to empower us. I want the film to get across messages that we need to get out here, build and get our own so that we will not be so dependent on the dominant society and not be at their mercy.
The first two installments of Hidden Colors focused on the untold history of people of African and aboriginal descent as well as the reasons their contributions have been left out of the pages of history. The Hidden Colors series is one of the most successful Black independent documentaries to date. This summer Hidden Colors 3 opened in theaters in 14 cities across America and sold out every single theater, find it on DVD here.
And check out the trailer below.
If you had to create a code of conduct for Black America, what would be first on your list?