4 Questions With Jamal Joseph

The former Black Panther and filmmaker talks about Trayvon Martin and activism in black arts.

Jamal Joseph

TR: What’s next for you and your activism?

JJ: I’m doing a film this summer called Chapter and Verse. A situation that really concerns us is the plight of mass incarceration of our young black men. There is a one-in-three chance that they’ll wind up in prison, a one-in-five chance that they’ll wind up in college, a one-in-four chance that they’ll wind up like Trayvon Martin and die from violence. Sometimes it will be at the hands of the police or a white racist. Oftentimes, it’s from each other’s hands. That’s what the film will explore.

TR: If you were to make a film about the Trayvon Martin case, what angle would you take? Which part of his story would you most like to see explored?

JJ: I would like to explore the conditions and circumstances that created Zimmerman. Unless we deal with where the disease or where the cancer is coming from, then it’s going to happen again and again. Also, we should explore and honor his parents for following in the footsteps of Mamie Till, Emmett Till’s mom. They are saying, “We’re not letting this go. You have to understand what happened to my son. America, world, you need to know what happened to my son.”

But we really need to understand the mind and the circumstances that created the mind that pulled that trigger that thinks it’s OK to stalk a black boy and shoot him, and also the other minds that let [Zimmerman] go with impunity. Unless we attack it from both points, unless we understand man’s inhumanity to man, it will be useless.

Akoto Ofori-Atta is The Root’s assistant editor.

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