My name is Mamoudou N'Diaye and I'm a comedian, actor, writer, DJ, and former middle school teacher in Brooklyn, NY.
I haven't been able to laugh for a long time and it's not because of the typical depression that comes with being a comedian. As a comedian, I attempted to make light of the horrific events plaguing American society, specifically the murders of Black men, women, and children over the last few years (and longer). It has become harder and harder to try and be topical and try and find light in such a dark topic matter (especially because it continues to happen and nothing is changing).
I can't afford to have the mindset of "that would never happens to me" because the moment we allowed white men to murder children in school, shoot up a movie premiere, shoot up a church etc but murdered black men trying to buy skittles, sell CDs, play in his neighborhood, let the police kill a black woman with a busted taillight, etc, that mindset goes out the window.
115 black men dead so far in 2016 and I've now learned what is important to society: guns, gorillas, girls. I heard about Harambe being shot and continued to hear about it for weeks after his death. Alton Sterling was two days ago. Philandro Castille yesterday. And if history repeats itself as we've watched it do time and time again, their names will fade to the grab bag of other forgotten black names of people gunned down like animals in the street.
I read and hear "how many more?" and in my mind I say "thousands." Why? Because nothing changes. The same bullets that murdered Trayvon Martin flew straight through him to Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddy Gray, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Philandro Castille, and it could be me next. But it wouldn't matter. Because I don't matter. Oh, I love myself and my blackness and muslimness, but what does that mean if my life doesn't matter to the person behind the gun? And then when I die, my ultimate form is a weeklong hashtag?
I don't want to be a hashtag. Alive or dead.
I taught science for two years at a boys school in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. I would often engage in awesome conversations with 12 year old black boys about not only science, but also societal movements. In the wake of the ruling that Mike Brown's killer was not to be indicted, I asked about ways to stop these shootings. One kid said "we could take the guns away." I responded, "well people are protected by the 2nd amendment, people use guns to hunt as well."
After a brief moment, he responded, "but they're hunting us."
"They're hunting us."
Those words have echoed in my head for a year now. A 12 year old boiled it down perfectly.
This is the world that he is inheriting from us. This is the world that we are leaving for the future of our nation. I don't want this to be his story. I don't want this to be his base reality as it has been for me.
I don't want him to be a hashtag.
I don't believe in words, thoughts, and prayers, at least not anymore. I believe in action.
I know that the human condition bars people from truly experiencing another person's struggle; we can empathize but often don't 100% relate. What I have done is write a script detailing the mindset I am constantly in as a person of color, both on and off the stage. In order to feel what it is like to be a person of color, racked with fear at every turn because they don't know when they could become a hashtag, I think a person needs to see it. And not a cell phone video because we all already know that that means nothing, no matter how damning the evidence.
I would appreciate and love the support of any and everyone who would like to see this film become a reality. I don't want to make a sub-par film, I would like to make it as perfect a representation of the situation we as people of color are in currently with a corrupt policing system.
I would like to start shooting in early August, so the sooner that this project gets funded, the better. The reason for a budget of $7000 is because I would like to shoot and record sound on professional equipment (to be rented not bought) and because I would have to pay owners of NY locations to use their spaces. Also, I would like to pay DPs, sound technicians, editors, and scorers as much I can for contributing their talents to this project.
I personally can never move on from this feeling of helplessness until I express it either bluntly or creatively. This creative avenue gives me a great deal of catharsis and also highlights a narrative that people can both relate to and empathize with.
I don't want this story of violence to be the narrative of America and my generation. To make this film would be my greatest and most trying project to date and I will need all the help I can get.