‘The 16th Strike,’ documentary on the current state of Blacks/Africans in America: interview with filmmaker T ‘Alika’ Hickman
by Leroy F. Moore
“The 16th Strike,” a documentary in progress, is directed and produced by T Alika Hickman with videographer Danny Russo. Hickman, the young survivor of a stroke and two brain aneurysms, is a Hip Hop artist with Krip Hop Nation – artists with disabilities – as well as a mother, activist, author and poet.
On Indiegogo, where she is raising funds to complete the film, she writes: “This film is important because as an African living in America, I see that we suffer many pains as a people. We carry the angers of our past on our shoulders, and it reflects in our dealings with each other, our foods and how we eat, and our violence toward one another. … But we have the potential to be great. This documentary tackles our flaws, but also goes through the steps to correct them.” She adds, “When you contribute to this film, you are actually helping create change in the world.”
On YouTube, she notes: “We must realize that the war is not against each other. We are a mighty race! Let us be mighty!” Here is the trailer:
Leroy F. Moore: T Alika Hickman, I’m so excited to interview you about the documentary, “The 16th Strike,” which is about the current state of Blacks/Africans in America. Now you are living in Houston, Texas. Can you talk about what is going on in the Black community there and why this documentary is so important?
T Alika Hickman: Unfortunately, what is going on here in Texas is an example of what is happening nationwide to people of color. We are the No. 1 majority in the jail system, the No. 1 people dying because we are killing ourselves, the No. 1 people being killed by licensed gun carriers, the No. 1 people aborting our babies, the No. 1 people dying from diabetes, heart disease and strokes.
We’re the No.1 people that are spending $1.1 trillion, more than any other race, with it staying in our community six to eight hours, versus the Asian community whose spending stays in their community 30 days. We create a reality that revolves around false beauty and deny our natural selves. We pay our tithes to the church and think that we can continue to say amen and our problems will be wiped away.
Meanwhile, we are still enslaved by the very things that have created the illusion of freedom. Why is this documentary important? Because we need to wake up and see our babies are dying. We are being exterminated like mice to a mousetrap! The cheese for us is marketing ignorance. Money, greed, illusion.
“This film is important because as an African living in America, I see that we suffer many pains as a people. We carry the angers of our past on our shoulders, and it reflects in our dealings with each other, our foods and how we eat, and our violence toward one another. … But we have the potential to be great. This documentary tackles our flaws, but also goes through the steps to correct them.”
Leroy F. Moore: You began as a musician. Why are you now putting your energy into this doc and issue and how are you mixing your music with your recent work?
T Alika Hickman: I will be a musician for life, just as Maya Angelou is a poet, but I have been following spirit. This wasn’t something I just said, “I’m gonna do a documentary about the mindset of Black people today.” I looked at my world, and I didn’t like what I saw. But furthermore, I understand the power of change, as I am a person that was a knucklehead and changed my life. My music is in the documentary because “I ain’t going nowhere!”
Leroy F. Moore: I see in the trailer that there is a heavy appearance of Black women that I love. Tell us why, and working on this documentary how did men and women work together side by side?
T Alika Hickman: When I started filming, I didn’t know or plan the process. I just knew the message I wanted out there. So my answer to that is “divine intervention!”
Leroy F. Moore: We have seen what Detroit, Mich., is doing with community gardens and how communities are taking back power from local government with the work of artists and activists like The Boggs Center and Hip-Hop artists like Invincible and so many more. Do you think Houston is on that path and do you see our cities uniting to learn from each other, not waiting for an election?
T Alika Hickman: Houston is definitely on that path. And that is the answer. We have to come out of the land of illusion and deception and start taking more steps toward freedom. For those who say they believe in God, God didn’t create nature to pay for it. Our food should be clean and available to us.
Leroy F. Moore: What does it mean to have a Black president in your activism and this documentary?
T Alika Hickman: I’m not a big fan of politricks. But I am grateful for the first lady pushing a healthy eating initiative. I did vote for him. And I have realized that one man controlling the future and fate of a people is one of the biggest illusions that we have fallen for.
What I do know is that Obama is a face for the government. But he is not our solution as a people. Actually none of the so-called “Black leaders” that have been bought out are our leaders or our solution. Our leaders are killed and held as political prisoners.
Leroy F. Moore: I read, hear a lot of Black media talk about yesterdays like the Black Panthers, the Black Power Movement and of course we need to always learn from our past. However, in this documentary and campaign, how has it reached Black youth and young adults?
T Alika Hickman: Unfortunately, we glorify death in our music; well, we deal with death in the documentary. We have kids all throughout the film speaking on the things that are needed in our communities and the things that hurt our communities.
Leroy F. Moore: In the trailer, issues like healthy food, hair products, Black violence on the Black community, housing, drug dealing and more are talked about. These are some big issues that have corporations, lobbyists in D.C., federal laws, media and so on. How does the film break these issues down to community solutions, i.e. people power?
T Alika Hickman: Actually that is the problem and the solution. We have to be the solution. We are a big profit for the prison system. They make $40,000 to $90,000 per prisoner per year. How? Slavery. The beauty supply industry is a billion dollar industry and they sell us “ugly nigger in a bottle,” and we buy it off the shelf! The FDA is approving the foods that are related to killing us, the medicines that are related to killing us, and the products that are related to killing us, and we think that “because” it is approved, it is safe. How deep we are fooled!
Leroy F. Moore: What are the plans for the documentary, “The 16th Strike” after it’s done?
T Alika Hickman: To embrace change on a global level, because even though it is filmed in Houston, we share the same pains globally as a people. And we must be willing to change – or be willing to die. But we passed the point of no return three blocks ago.
We have kids all throughout the film speaking on the things that are needed in our communities and the things that hurt our communities.
Leroy F. Moore: Talk about some of the people in the documentary and why are they in it?
T Alika Hickman: Reginald Gordon did 16 years in prison. He came out and changed his life. K-Rino is a well-known Hip-Hop artist who only speaks stories of empowering our people. Sabali Earth is a well-known vegan chef who has a strong message for eating healthy. Baba Shango owns an African centered building, where he teaches African centered studies, as well as African centered martial arts. He is taking a group of kids to Africa this year. I have so many amazing people in this film, which is why I know it is divinely created. No one person outweighs the other. They are all great!
Leroy F. Moore: You know I’m a disability activist for people of color with disabilities. How does this documentary touch and include Black disabled people?
T Alika Hickman: Ha! I am the creator! I am also in the documentary speaking on my disability. But beyond that, we have those that have become disabled due to violence in our communities, or from police officers. Our pain runs beyond the labels society gives us.
Leroy F. Moore: You are using Indiegogo to raise $35,000. Tell us how can people help out, what do they get when they contribute and how are you reaching people who are not on the internet and need a one-on-one personal touch, especially locally?
T Alika Hickman: We are doing fundraising events to help gain the money for this film. Our next fundraising event is Feb. 9 at a poetry event. After that we will be going on local radio to let people know about the campaign. We are also doing and planning drives and other events to gain funds for the film, but anyone who wants to donate can contact me at email@example.com or (713) 370-5976 and I can give further instructions. All donations are appreciated even if you are simply helping us spread the word.
Leroy F. Moore: Any last words?
T Alika Hickman: Yes, I will leave you with a quote:
“It’s just like when you’ve got some coffee that’s too black, which means it’s too strong. What do you do? You integrate it with cream; you make it weak. But if you pour too much cream in it, you won’t even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot; it becomes cool. It used to be strong; it becomes weak. It used to wake you up; now it puts you to sleep.” – Malcolm X
We, my friends, have been put to sleep! Wake up!
Krip-Hop Nation founder Leroy F. Moore Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.