American Maroon Review | Tariq Showcases FBA's Inextricable Linkage to Africa In New Film

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At last, world renowned Hidden Colors Series filmmaker Tariq Nasheed hits the streets with his latest documentary series, American Maroon. Nasheed's latest project is a film that endeavors to tell the story of the historic American Maroons, their life of struggle and survival in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and their relentless desire for freedom. But more than that, American Maroon is the magnum opus for the FBA designation and seeks to substantiate their claim to aboriginal status in the Americas. Did Producer Tariq Nasheed of Buck Breaking and Hidden Colors Series fame do theAmerican Maroons story justice? Let's find out:

American Maroon is a New Film that Feels Strangely Familiar​

I went into American Maroon excited to not only see the strength of our brothers and sisters but to also see Tariq substantiate the FBA origin theory. With the subject being so core to his present day ideology, I had no doubt that Tariq would evolve his story-telling capability and create the definitive work on the Maroons. Unfortunately, I was let down. If you've seen the Hidden Colors Series, Buck Breaking, or 1804 you've essentially seen American Maroon. The movie clings strictly to Tariq's tried and true format:

Topic > Narrator > Speaker > Transition > Speaker > Transition > Speaker > Next Topic

It plays, feels, and communicates the message similar to all the other films and doesn't really do a good job at it.

Scholarship Need Not Apply Here In This Film​

Large Claims On Untold History Require Large Evidence​

The first 3rd of the film is simply a jumbled list of anecdotes and "fun facts" masquerading as an argument for the FBA aboriginal theory. I personally have no issue with the claim and believe there is merit to it but large claims require large evidence. The film relies too heavily on statements such as "people have said", "someone found", and "there is evidence that" rather than on solid research and sources.

An 6:45 Nerissa Reaves references alleged African writings on rocks in Utah and a random picture is flashed. Why did the team not show up on location to film the writings and explain how they are evidence of Pre-Colombian presence in the Americas? The crew could fly across the USA to interview multiple speakers but couldn't take the time to fly out to Utah to film the African writings?

I came away feeling as if they just wanted me to take their word for everything they were saying. One major problem with that is no one's credentials were shown. Why are these people qualified to speak on these subjects? What research have they done?

The Film Glances Over Points Critical to It's Hypothesis​

While some of the claims were based in historical fact others were in dire need of elaboration. A great example of this is the claim that the Twa and Mbuti were the first wave of migrants to the New World. My interest was immediately piqued but this detail was tossed aside almost immediately for one unsubstantiated rapid-fire talking point after another.

Far too many times, critical points in the story would be casually glossed over without elaboration. One minute the topic is about American Maroons and the next it is speaking on the oldest person in the world being from Brazil. It made the film feel like it was rushed and it cheapened the quality of the information given. While this may be sufficient for entertainment, it limits the films ability to be used in scholastic settings.

American Maroon Suffers From a Lack of Chronological Integrity​

Parts of the documentary suffer from chronological errors so severe that it is hard NOT view the rest of the project as pseudo-history. At 10:07 Kaba Kamene speaks on the "5 Migrations to the Americas" with emphasis being on the migrational patterns of the “Mongol” Native Americans. In his words, the "Mongol" Natives crossed the Bering Strait to escape Genghis Khan’s reign of terror.

The issue with this statement is that the Bering Land Bridge was flooded 10,000 years before the birth of Genghis Khan. It would have been impossible for those fleeing the Mongol Empire to cross the Bering Strait without some type of a seafaring tradition. But even then, the Bering Strait is one of the most dangerous bodies of water in the world and is near impossible to traverse in small watercraft.

Not only does this out-of-order layout of events nullify certain theories, but they show how sloppy and disjointed some of the arguments are. The goal here is to not take away from the significance of any of the claims put forth. The goal is to show that as a people we must not confuse a series of "fun facts" with a properly constructed, researched, and evidenced argument.

American Maroon Inadvertently Tells the Tale of FBA Being An Undeniably African People​

Trade Between Africa and the Americas​

The film began to find its stride as it shifted to more contemporary history. For those who use a Native American identity to distance themselves from their African roots, this portion of the film may begin to jab at your identity. This portion of the film displays many examples of an historical connection and exchange between Africa and the Americas.

The theory of trade between Africa and the New World between the times of the Ancient Egyptians to the era of the Moors is not only plausible, but I’d venture to say that it’s becoming nearly irrefutable. However, this does little to denote a wholly separate identity from Africa.

Throughout this portion of the film, Tariq tries to frame this as trade between two different groups but the speakers in the film firmly disagree.

A Tale of Two Tales​

The film has an interesting bipolarness to it because Tariq speaks on FBA as a group descendant from the "Aboriginals" which are distinct from Africans.

@4:28 Tariq Nasheed: "There's also evidence of other Black people coming from Africa doing trade with the aboriginal people here like Abubakari II"

However many of the speakers DO NOT make a distinction between FBAs and Africans. It is not a mere telling of conflicting opinions, it's multiple incompatible narratives that are sloppily stitched together in hopes that the viewer rationalizes the piece on their behalf. Here are quotes from the film that debunks Tariq's own narrative:

@3:05 Professor James Small: "When the Asiatic crossed the Bering Strait the African was already here"

@5:58 Kaba Kamene: "The first wave are the Twa and Mbuti"

@6:32 Nerissa Reaves: "Dr. David Imhotep has done tons of studying on this subject he even wrote a book: "The First Americans Were Africans""

@11:05 Anthony Dixon: "We have evidence that Africans were coming to the Americans long before Christopher Columbus"

@24:35 Kaba Kamene: "Why would Columbus bring translators...if he brought African translators they must have been speaking to African people here, cuz why do you need someone to interpret if you don't speak the language and they don't speak the there had to have been a commonality between the two people"

The group of people that Tariq is calling Aboriginal and distinct from Africans are called Africans by Professor James Small just a minute before and by Kaba Kamene a minute afterward.

The Maroon Societies Were Not a Unique FBA Phenomenon​

The film actually removes the Maroons as an FBA exclusive phenomenon and presents multiple Maroon colonies all across North, South and Central America as well as in the islands of the Caribbean. Quotes directly from the film:

@39:55: "Everywhere there was slavery, there were Maroon Communities. There were Maroon communities in Brazil, Cuba, of course Haiti"

@51:42 Chase McGhee: "Some of the Maroon societies in the Caribbean and other places in South America starting on the island of hispanole [sic]...the first time we see enslaved people brought about how they ran away and started Maroon colonies".

In its attempt to establish FBA and the surrounding diaspora as separate communities, it instead connects them together through African migration patterns and the spurning of Maroon communities. Black people's fight for sovereignty and stark resistance to enslavement was not uniquely FBA, it was seen across the diaspora.

Though I’m not convinced of the FBA aboriginal theory, this film has shown how no matter how some self-hating Blacks try to deny it, we're all the same people with the same ancestry and led by the same desire for freedom.

Does American Maroon Prove That Maroon Communities Were Aboriginal?​

No it does not. The film actually makes the case that Africans found these lands, made colonies, and continuously traded between the Americas and the mainland for centuries. Given its long runtime, American Maroon is at least worth one play through at 2X speed. However, take everything mentioned in it with a grain of salt. While there may be some valuable information to glean you MUST do your own research before coming to any type of conclusion.

For those looking for something after the Buck Breaking DVD release and the launch of the Hidden History Museum this will be a great film to watch. If you're looking for something scholarly that can give you details on the Maroons and a greater understanding of the FBA origin story the film will come up short.

With that said, I give this film 3 out of 6ZEROS. I hope that the following films are less rushed, more concise, and evolve the format made famous by the Hidden Colors Series.

Additional Information​

A Brief Disclosure On My Background As a Descendant of Maroons from Jamaica​

Though not nationalistic in the slightest, a point of pride I carry from my ancestry is being a descendant of the Jamaican Maroons. I do want to give full disclosure given the social climate of the B1 community. I am of Caribbean descent. To seemingly many in the current Black conscience space that would automatically be grounds to nullify any opinions that I have on the film under the assumptions of some sort of tether bias due to my ancestry

To those people, I say be my guest, but I will clarify my stance on the state of affairs since they’ve played a large role in the film's rollout. I have no interest in the FBA vs Non-FBA squabble and find it embarrassing on both sides. If it’s one thing our people know how to do, it’s to argue over the trivial differences among us to feel superior to one another.

I’ve had conversations with FBA and Non-FBA in an attempt to dispel certain divisive mantras only to realize that we too eagerly play into the Divide and Conquer strategy. So with that, I distance myself from the death march of those lemmings who wish to fall off that cliff, since my allegiance is with blackness without the European-drawn boundaries.

Who Were the American Maroon Communities?​

The Maroons were runaway slave communities of formally enslaved Africans that resisted British subjugation throughout the Americas. Maroon Societies were notable for inhabiting swamp land such as the Great Dismal Swamp once they had escaped slavery. There were multiple swamp-based Maroon Communities throughout the Deep South including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and South Carolina.

The Maroons used their knowledge of the swamps to help rescue enslaved people and wage war against government militia groups and others looking to capture runaway slaves. From our perspective, the Maroons were freedom fighters who escaped the plantations. To the US Government and other European governments they were fugitives who were creating slave resistance settlements.

Wherever you stand, it cannot be understated that the Maroons were more than slavery's exiles. They were a proud people who would sacrifice their life to protect their freedom and ensure the survival of their women and children.
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About author
Hebrew Israelite and co-host of The Black Narrative.