Welcome to my hometown, Baltimore, Maryland. Our town population is about 650,000 and is approximately 65% African-American, and a sizeable percentage of the African-American population in Baltimore consists of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation Muslims. Our town is known for its crime, specifically drugs and murder. The homicide rate in Baltimore is nearly seven times the national rate, six times the rate of New York City, and three times the rate of Los Angeles. 23% of the population lives below the poverty line.
I grew up in the West Baltimore Muslim community, and I’ve been a member of the community in and around Masjid Ul Haqq for over 30 years. Back in the 70’s there was a school called Sister Clara Muhammad School, inside the Masjid (A Muslim place of worship.) on Wilson Street. It’s the same building where I attended preschool, met Muhammad Ali, and had my first crush on a boy; and the building is still standing. It’s the same building where I founded a Muslim Youth Group, later taught elementary school, and even later got married.
I attended many, many weddings, baby naming celebrations, and funerals at this Masjid over the past three decades. It’s a part of my life history. So are the people in the community. When I left Baltimore five years ago to make films, I flew to L.A. armed with the stories from my rich life history, and I vowed to share them through film.
I’ve returned to my community here in Baltimore, to shoot a series of episodes to share with the world one of those aforementioned stories, and give voice to my community. Chrysalis The Web Series is a story that so many young men in West Baltimore can certainly call their own. And, many people worldwide will see something in the story to which they can relate.
This is the story of Jamal, a young Muslim man born and raised in West Baltimore, who struggles with a choice he has made to become a drug dealer to provide for his young son. In his heart, Jamal knows he’s wrong, yet he feels compelled by the easy money and fast life. Soon, a violent tragedy forces him to accept that he must get out of the drug game, and do what he knows is right.
Go along on the journey with Jamal as he confronts his choice, and faces the dilemma of his self-interest (and that of his son) versus his morality. You will connect with his experience with this struggle, as so many of us have had to face it in one shape or form. You’ll gain insight into a world of everyday American people that you may not know much about, and I hope it brings you closer to understanding the human experience that we all share.
~Nia Malika Dixon
November 25, 2010