This past Thursday I attended the film screening of “Mooz-lum” at Lincoln Center. In my last post I stated that this film was about a young Black man of Islamic faith struggling with this identity in addition to being an American. After having seen the film, there is a lot more to add to that synopsis. This picture is also a coming of age story for young Tariq (played by Evan Ross), showing his life and upbringing. I have to say that the acting was spot on, and struck the right chords overall. Danny Glover and Nia Long both played roles that were atypical to their previous works.
Without giving too much away, the film reaches a critical turning point when Tariq and his friends and family have to contend with the events of 9/11. Many of us remember how Muslims were harassed and profiled, and this was depicted well. It’s nearly been a decade, but much of the animus against Muslims permeates. One need only to remember the controversy over the “Ground Zero Mosque” to see that.
A panel discussion followed the film, with the theme “Islam and the Black Experience” It was moderated by Moikgantsi Kgama, the founder of ImageNation. Imam Talib Abdul-Rashid, Minister Abdul Hafiz Muhammed and Najmah53 (spoken word artist) along with Vladimi Versailles. The director Qasim “Q” Basir was a part of the panel via Skype since he had another premier to attend. Ruby Dee who was in attendance came to the stage and praised the film, as the audience stood and applauded in reverence.
The discussion centered around being Muslim and Black in America, and what that entails. Imam Rashid stated that of the millions of Muslims in America, nearly 30 percent are African-American. After the discussion forum, I was fortunate enough to speak to one of the panelists about the film and what it means to the African American community.
“This movie depicts Black people in a different way and shows how multi-faceted we are” -Najmah53
I have to agree with this statement. Given that we live in a diverse society, it is best that we strive to understand people of different faiths. With everything that is occurring in Egypt, we see how rapidly things can change. Our knowledge cannot remain stagnant, because that leads to misunderstanding and fear. As was mentioned by one of the panelist, no one rushed to demonize Christians as a group after Jared Lee Loughner went on a rampage.
Thank you to Najmah53, the ImageNation team, and the readers of this blog. Mooz-lum opens nationwide in theaters February 11th.
-Marc W. Polite
P.S. The next film to look out for is “I will follow” coming March 11th.