Hidden Colors: More Untold Stories of Black and Brown People
Tariq Nasheed reveals little known history in part 2 of his groundbreaking doc
In April 2011, New York Times best-selling author and relationship "game advisor" Tariq Nasheed debuted his first documentary "Hidden Colors: The Untold History Of People Of Aboriginal, Moor, and African Descent" to rave reviews. The film set out to be, as KRS-One would say, a source of "edutainment" for people looking for information about the African diaspora that was rarely taught in U.S. schools.
Featuring commentary from a long list of scholars and orators including Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, Dr. Umar Johnson, and Dr. Phil Valentine among others, "Hidden Colors" managed to present African history in a way that both the Ivy League scholar and the Rucker Park baller could understand and appreciate.
"The idea actually started as a book," says Nasheed, an urban relationship expert who has written books including "Play Or Be Played" and "The Art of Gold Digging." "When I do lectures about relationships, I always drop history in there. I was going to do a book. At first, it was going to be a video of just me talking, but I decided to be more thorough and get people I like to talk on it too."
Now a year and a half later, Nasheed is set to grace select theaters Dec. 6 and 7 with his second installment, "Hidden Colors 2: The Triumph of Melanin," with what he promises will go even deeper in detail. Loop 21 caught up with Nasheed to talk about the making of part 1, the demand for part 2 and why more films like his do not exist.
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Loop 21: Many of your followers know you from your books and podcasts dealing with relationships. What made you want to do a documentary on African history?
Tariq Nasheed: What made me want to do part 1 was traveling the world. I would visit museums in different countries and see exhibits and monuments of Black people being rulers. I asked myself, "Why Isn't any of this being taught in America on television or text books?" The only thing we know about African history in America is slavery and the Civil Rights movement. I also noticed that a lot of Black people and entertainers who have the money and resources to put this type of information out don't, out of fear. They scare Black entertainers out of doing stuff like this because now Black entertainers get viewed as radical if they acknowledge [history of the diaspora]. On top of that, it's only with our history that you're viewed as being "radical" if you talk about it. Everybody else can talk about their history and not seem radical. We get called "rebels" when we talk about our history. People complain about Tyler Perry and Spike Lee not making films like these, so I decided to do something about it.
Loop 21: How was our history being presented overseas? Was it also hidden or out in the open?
T.N.: The system of white supremacy is a global operation, so [while] things overseas are less racial, [racism] still exists. Overseas, our history is more out in the open. Here in America it's hidden. This country was founded on racism with a myth of people being more superior than other[s]. The racial overtones aren't as severe overseas.
Loop 21: You brought up the fear of being blackballed. Was it difficult getting people to talk for the film?
T.N.: I got people that I already listen to and read involved. I was always a fan of Dr. Frances Cress Welsing and "The Isis Papers." I was always a follower of Shahrazad Ali's ["The Blackman's Guide to Understanding the Blackwoman"] work. So I got people I admired to articulate the history. That's the thing, the African American audience wants education, but we want to be entertained too. We have to find people who can relay the information in a way that doesn't go over your head. A lot of times when it comes to giving out information like this, to understand real African history, not the stuff they teach you in school, you have to be a rebel to a certain degree because you have to reject everything that you were taught in school and college. When you turn on the History and Discovery channels, you're being lied to. And even when some of us realize they are being lied to, and get the real information, they get angry, and try to turn everything into "Kill Whitey." So I had to make sure there wasn't anybody talking like that in the film. Then, I had to make sure that I didn't get any bougie people in the film who just want to talk over people's heads.
Loop 21: How would you say you appreciated the feedback from the first 'Hidden Colors' documentary?
T.N.: It was good, but even more important than that, I was proud of how we raised money for the film. We raised the money though Kickstarter, I got half the funds from that and put the rest up myself. I didn't want anybody to donate except for Black men. None of my white friends, no Hispanics, none of the sistas, I wanted only Black men to donate. That was important to me, because when Black people try to do something for the community, we have a bad habit of trying to get money from other people. We have too much money circulating among ourselves to keep having to go to other people. I hate hearing the excuse that Black folks don't have money. Black folks will line up outside for two days to buy some $200 shoes. Black folks will go to the beauty supply store and buy an $800 lace-front wig every Friday. We have money. We just have to spend it on things that will benefit us in the long term. So when we rolled out the movie, every showing was sold out, which killed the myth that we don't like educational films.
Loop 21: Did 'Hidden Colors 2' come about because of an actual demand, or having information left over from the first one?
T.N.: Yeah, we couldn't put all of the information we had in part 1, but people were also begging for another one. The first "Hidden Colors" has changed curriculum in schools. Students are demanding that teachers share this information now. People loved how it was presented and how easy it was for them to digest. People have told me they learned more from watching "Hidden Colors" than they [did] the whole time they went to school.
Loop 21: What would you say is the difference between part 1 and 2? Fixed mistakes? Production?
T.N.: Well, there were no mistakes, we cross-referenced everything. For part 2, we spent way more money and the production value is better too. We go into history. We go into the prison industrial complex. We go into how the medical industry has targeted the African American community. We go deeper into religion. It's very precise. It's very hard to refute the information in the film. So it's the truth or not, so nobody can really discredit it. It's accurate and well documented. The people who do have a problem with the film can never back up their claims.
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Loop 21: What do you want see as the end result of making films like these?
T.N.: The end result is to see Black people winning. There's a lot of things that happens to Blacks in this country and they just aren't awake enough to see it. Racism hasn't gone away, it's just not as overt, it's covert. Especially in the education system, Black kids are funneled into the special education program and then as adults they are funneled into the prison system. We always give solutions in these films too. And we're not about hating anybody; we aren't militant. We are just telling our side of history that never gets told.
"Hidden Colors 2" will be released in limited theaters on Dec. 6 and 7. Visit the official website for viewing times and locations: www.HIDDENCOLORSFILM.com