Wednesday, April 8, 2009

One on One Interview with filmmaker M.K. Asante Jr.

I shot this a year ago in Asante's office at Morgan State University. His film The Black Candle is a documentary chronicling the history and highlights the importance of Kwanzaa. Narrated by Dr. Maya Angelou, the film includes prominent black figures Jim Brown, Chuck D, and Dr. Haki Madhubuti. This film gives great insight not only on the celebration and practices of Kwanzaa, but how vital it is to African-American culture. The Black Candle will air on TV One on Dec.26.

In all honesty, year after year I express interest in celebrating Kwanzaa but I usually fail to do so. It wasn't embraced by my family so in turn I rarely gave it a second thought. That's probably the case with a lot of black folks. We take culture for granted, so it is of no surprise when our communities don't reflect the Nguzo Saba, seven principles that includes: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination, Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity),and Imani (Faith).

It has taken me some time to understand the principles and even more so to implement these vital teachings into my way of life. I fall short indeed, but recognizing your own faults is the first step in correcting them. With that said, this is not a bashing session of the black community. We already have enough of that going on.

I am the passenger advising the driver they are heading for a pothole. I caution danger ahead to avoid a catastrophe. Why I choose to do so? Well, it is obvious that I will be affected but more than that, WE will lose our direction in our journey together.

The development is a collective effort. We lack Umoja (unity) needed to really accomplish anything. That is the key to it all. Sure, we excel tremendously with Kujichagulia(self-determination)and Kuumba(Creativity). Our history clearly echoes our various examples of self-determination through our constant struggle with civil rights alone. Kuumba(Creativity) is also evident in everything we do. We know how to make something out of nothing. With that sensibility we created freedom for ourselves even while bonded in shackles.

But we can't seem to get the other five principles together,which hinders our progression. It all starts with pride for history and of one-self. We must teach pride not only to our children but ourselves. If we unlearn bad habits and adopt better ones, then maybe we stand a chance of passing it along for our children to grasp. As it stands, our pride is fragmented and misplaced and only WE can deploy a search and rescue team.

M.K. Asante Jr. Interview 2