Over the past month, I have been directing and producing a short film that will be presented as my senior capstone project titled, “Rooted in West Africa, Blooming in America.” Thanks to the Eugene Lang Opportunity Award, I was able to collaborate with my two talented friends/videographers Ihums Isaac and Jorge Romero. Ihums Isaac is studying media management at the New School’s School of Media Studies, and Jorge Romero is studying journalism & Design at Eugene Lang College.
I have a background in photography and journalism so I was grateful to incorporate my videographer’s unique skills to this project. This project has helped me gain insight on a part of the world that I was never familiar with, but have always been very interested in.
I embarked on this project with the goals of shining a light on the experiences West African women have in the U.S. regarding the challenges and beauties of being black, a woman, and West African. This has been a remarkable journey so far, and I am excited to see where the next month or so of filming will take me. So far I had the pleasure of interviewing and photographing Adji Diatta who is a first generation Senegalese American woman born and raised in New York City, Oluwadamilola “Dami” Adeyemi a Nigerian foreign exchange student at Stony Brook University and Anita Festus, a Nigerian businesswoman who now resides in New Jersey.
I am photographing and conducting interviews at the Parsons Studio at the New School. As I continue on this journey with my collaborators, we will be conducting our final interviews at the studio and traveling to Brooklyn, New Jersey, and Long Island to shoot the rest of our B-roll. In the B-roll we will be providing insight on these five brilliant women’s daily routines and provide context to their in studio interviews. We will be interviewing Abigail “Abby” Yakubu who was born and raised in Nigeria, and Mariama Barrie who was born and raised in Guinea within the next week.
“Rooted in West Africa, Blooming in America,” is a film about five West African women currently residing in the U.S and who have and/or currently residing in New York. For some, the journey has been plagued with challenges, and for some the experience has been quite wonderful. I created this project because I wanted to challenge the idea that blackness is a monolith, and that there is a single black experience. I was interested in going into depth the ways in which African immigrants identify with African Americans and or how in some ways feel disconnected to African American narratives.
As well as incorporating data regarding the percentage of African immigrants in the U.S. I have been exploring the ways in which these five young African women identify within American society, and how gender and race color their experiences in America and West Africa. I will be presenting my finish product on May 7, 2019. This project will be published on my website (www.alimcpherson.com) on May 10 2018, and on Honeysuckle Magazine (www.honeysucklemagazine.com) at a later date.