Community forum tackles critical issues in Black Richmond

Photo by Muktaru Jalloh
Photo by Muktaru Jalloh.
Photo by Muktaru Jalloh
Photo by Muktaru Jalloh.

Enjoli Moon, founder and creative director of Richmond’s Afrikana Film Festival addressed the necessity of Richmond’s Black community to achieve accurate representation in film at her talk at VCU Nov. 15.

Moon created Afrikana to bring a film festival to Richmond that showcases the cinematic work of people of color. Speaking at VCU African-American Studies Department’s second Community Forum on Critical Issues in Black Richmond, Moon made clear the shift in narrating the Black experience through film and television production.

Afrikana made its debut in Richmond in 2014. The festival focuses on the global Black narrative, providing a platform to authentically showcase the true Black experience. Without any previous experience in film, Moon, a Richmond native and VCU graduate, worked to facilitate the film festival.

The festival focuses on including every voice there is to be heard within the Black community. Afrikana is made up of short films, which Moon said have the power to change a person in less than 20 minutes.  

“I decided to present these short films that told this very different story about what it meant to be Black. It told stories that I knew. It told stories of me, my mother, my cousins, my uncles. But not the story that I saw when I turned on HBO, not the story that I saw when I turned on Channel 12, or FOX or any other station,” Moon said.

Moon said accurate representation has two parts: the representation itself and the platform through which it is expressed. Both of these ideas work together for a group to feel fully represented.

“In addition to our representation on the screen, we have to be mindful of our representation in the platforms that we create,” Moon said.

She said a shift in Black representation across all industries has been underway since 2016, mainly due to social media. A huge mobilizer for the Black community, social media provided everyday people the opportunity to speak out and say their current representation was not true to reality, Moon said.  

“Accurate representation falls on the shoulders of both the consumers and producers,” Moon said.

When it comes to representation, Moon said it is only one half of the story to produce films that express the Black experience. The other half lies in consuming the productions that exemplify the Black narrative and its multiplicity accurately, she said.

Moon’s work with the Afrikana Film Festival is her way to truly represent Black creativity. She stressed the necessity of representing the various Black experiences that exist, because a monolithic narrative is dangerous — confining individuals to that sole experience and no other.

Afrikana is Richmond’s first film festival to highlight the endeavors of people of color through film and similar productions. With an overarching goal to create a platform for people of color to truly represent themselves, Afrikana has been a part of the representational shift, Moon said.

Addressing a variety of critical issues pertinent to Richmond’s Black community, the Community Forum has monthly seminars with different speakers which is planned to start up again in January 2018.

Saffeya Ahmed, Contributing Writer

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