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ON BLACK CINEMA AND REJECTION

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By Nijla Baseema Mu'min

Yes, this is an angry poem

yes, this is a tired poem

tired of sitting in classes and feeling like a wall-

poem


this is a poem that doesn’t bring up Cassavetes to feel important

this is a poem that never saw a Cassavetes film before coming to “school”


this is a poem that likes Love and Basketball

and wants to write for television


this is a sell-out poem

this is a black woman poem

a poem for my grandmothers who never saw themselves

reflected onscreen in their lifetime- poem


a poem for dusty film reels rotting in warm apartments

because the single black woman had to give up her dream

to make ends meet and feed children- poem

this is a Daughters of the Dust poem

a poem wet in Gullah water

and natural light

on beaches by itself because

critics couldn’t understand it’s dialect


this is a poem that don’t want no

magic negro/ monster’s ball

no begging to sleep with white men

to make it feel good- poem


this poem is black laughter and breath

cause we played at festivals and heard it warm

in the throats of black audience


this poem be black talkin’ and silence,

black without a title or tell-tale sign

of “blackness” stamped across the credits

to make you feel better


this poem is 16mm and 24 frames

of grandmother’s silence in segregated theaters

of my silence in cold film classes

not saying nothing because there’s nothing to say


this is a Boyz In the Hood for the 10th time poem

Menace II Society poem on VHS

Sankofa poem creeping out of sugar cane stalks


this is a love poem


this is Grand Lake Theater in 1992

watching Malcolm X with fish sandwiches in our hands

and our eyes wet- poem

this is daddy yelling Alhamdulillah at Denzel at the podium-poem


don’t ever tell me I’m being didactic because I put a black Muslim character in my script- poem


this is Jason and Lyric making love

in those purple and red flowers,

and that wedding scene at the end of Coming to America,

that made us all want to go live in Zamunda- poem


this is an exclusion poem

this poem can’t catch a football and be adopted by a white family

to win the Academy Award-poem


this is Dorothy Dandridge’s heart when she lost that Oscar

this is black movies pulled from theaters before their first breath

this is a Regina King and Kaycee Moore poem

this is a Euzhan Palcy poem


this poem can’t find work even though it’s considered a cinematic legend

around the world


this poem made a black woman come up to me after the screening

tell me she saw herself in my film,

and that I had to expand the film into a feature


this poem was rejected from the showcase


-Nijla

2012