In Black Mother, the New York–based filmmaker and photographer Khalik Allah presents Jamaica in much the same way he presented Harlem in his first film Field Niggas: as a stream of social consciousness. The black bodies he films on the streets, in the alleys, in the churches, in homes, woods, and fruit-rich markets of the island conduct disembodied thoughts about colonial history, food, health, economics, religion, life, after-life, globalized exploitation, and racism. All of these thoughts flow from the body of the black woman. It is their point of origin and also motive force. In this way, Black Mother is like Beyoncé’s Lemonade, a sixty-five-minute exploration of pan-African female blackness that includes images shot by Allah. But the force of feeling in Black Mother is much deeper and even more dangerous than that which courses through Lemonade.
Not all the thoughts and images in Black Mother's almost scoreless but visually hypnotic 76 minutes are beautiful and positive. Allah refuses to exclude or ignore the brutal impact that 21st century poverty and the history of slavery has had on black bodies. In this Jamaica, the spirit (thought, nous, African geist) is in a constant struggle to reclaim the power of the long-oppressed flesh.
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