Originally published at The Well Versed
If you Google the phrases “do it yourself” and “self-made,” Tariq “Elite” Nasheed might pop up in the images section. When Nasheed realized there weren’t a lot of books speaking directly to men, he took it upon himself to publish “The Art Of Mackin.” Fed up with the omission of people of color from history programs, he once again took it upon himself to make the documentary he always wanted to see. TWV recently chopped up some good game with the host of “The Mack Lessons Radio Show” to get the scoop on his new documentary, why the History Channel isn’t giving us the real deal and images of black in the media. Class is in session.
The Well Versed: Can you talk a little about the documentary?
Tariq Nasheed: The documentary is called “Hidden Colors: The Untold History Of People Of Aboriginal, Moor, and African Descent.” The reason why I named it that instead of just black is that there are people who look are not considered black and look just like blacks in Africa and America but they don’t call them black. It’s all one in the same. They’re all people of color. It’s a lot of stuff that hasn’t been talked about before.
TWV: What made you want to touch on this for your first documentary?
TN: I was going to do it as a book. A lot of people talk about this but there’s a way you have to teach this so it’s relatable to your audience. Sometimes you can go over the audience’s heads or set things for a college or overly intellectual audience. One of the people I look up to who’s going to be in the documentary—Booker T. Coleman—says your objective as a teacher is to make things plain. We really need this. Right now, black folks don’t know who they are and their self-esteem shows you that. The way people act and carry themselves. People carry themselves as second class citizens; a lot of people have low standards. We don’t have high standards like we used to have. We need to get back to where we used to be and one way to do that is to know who we are and
where we came from.
TWV: Was there a point when you think things started to drop off with us as a people?
TN: Really in the 1960s when integration kicked in. Integration happened reluctantly. People didn’t really want to integrate with black people. We were kind of celebrating that we overcame and made great strides. The racism took a different form and became covert than overt. It really got deep with the promotion of black inferiority, especially with the media. Everything you see on television and in class is about black inferiority. If you look in school, the only thing we’re taught is that we were slaves and that’s just not true. Even today you look at the History Channel and the Discovery Channel, there are a lot of things they’ll completely leave out and they’re blatant about doing that. It’s goes beyond omission and gets into propaganda. The final straw: I was watching a documentary on the History Channel about Columbus coming to America and the people who came before them and they went out of their way to not talk about the African presence in America before Columbus. There’s so much evidence to that but they conveniently left it out. I said, ‘Okay, we really have to do something.’
TWV: You went to Kickstarter for this project. You’ve done a lot of books independently but what made you want to get black men involved?
TN: I do my podcast, “The Mack Lessons Radio” show and we were talking about Tyler Perry’s new movie (“For Colored Girls) and a lot of brothers were complaining about it. I played the devil’s advocate. I don’t have a problem with Tyler Perry; I like some of his movies, some I don’t. A lot of brothers got mad at me for not jumping on the “I hate Tyler Perry” bandwagon. So I said Tyler Perry is doing his thing and he’s catering to a crowd that’s loyal to them. If brothers want somebody to cater to them, brothers have to support each other and support something as a monolith. I took brothers to task. I said, if you want to see better images of brothers and are tired of seeing brothers thrown under the bus by the media let’s do what other people do; let’s get this project funded without outside help: Let’s get it off the ground ourselves and fund it by black men, shoot it and produce it by black men. Let’s keep it self-contained and were’ doing it. Got the money in a little over a week and it’s going to be a great project.
TWV: Were you surprised at the response? I listened to the podcast and you seemed a little skeptical that the funding would come through.
TN: I knew it was going to happen. I know my audience. The guys that come to my lectures, they’re very thorough. The thing is I had to get people to put aside any suspicions they had about doing black business. As black folks, we give money to everybody else; when it comes to us, the questions come up. “What are we going to do with the money?” Everybody gets skeptical when it comes to dealing with each other. That’s the self-esteem; you’re projecting your own self-image onto other black people because you don’t trust yourself. We have to start trusting ourselves to know we can handle business the way we’re supposed to.
TWV: Was that one of the things you wanted to show? That we as black people can do things on a grand scale and that we’ve been doing it for so long?
TN: Absolutely. A vast history that’s never taught. Everybody else’s history is in your face. You turn on the TV and it’s in your face. You see “300?, you see “Alexander”; you see their history all the time. With us we have to dig, and find and search and travel. I want to make our history available in one spot. And it’s going to be entertaining and educational. We like to be entertained. In our community, if people feel like you’re trying to teach them, sometimes they’ll shun it so I’m keeping it entertaining as well.
TWV: I wanted to ask your opinion on the representation of blacks in the media. It seems like a lot of people are falling over themselves to get in front of the camera, and when they get their what they’re doing is really destructive.
TN: We’ve gotta get off this attention seeking thing. A lot of people in our community want to be seen, but we have to motivate and accomplish things and not just be seen. We’ve done all the marches, grandstanding and showboating. Everybody’s trying to one up one another. That’s where all the hate comes from; you see another black person who’s successful and a bunch of people are hating because they want to be in the spotlight. We’ve gotta be off the spotlight thing and start handling business and build something in the community.
Stay tuned for Part 2 coming Friday
Editor’s Note: The writer donated to the “Hidden Colors” project