Love of Nationality and Citizenship
Taking video cameras to the street, members of Philadelphia’s branch of the Moorish Science Temple of America ask interviewees of various ethnic backgrounds a provocative question: can the term “African American” accurately describe one's nationality? Members of the Temple say it is not a matter to be taken lightly. "Nationality is important because it lets us know what our contributions were as a people," says one member. "If you don't know your nationality, you don't know where you came from." Founded in Newark, New Jersey in 1913, the Moorish Science Temple of America believes that African Americans are descendants of the Moors of Middle Ages North Africa, and thus originally Muslims. The Temple's objective is to "help in the great program of uplifting fallen humanity and teach those things to make our members better citizens." Members honor their chosen heritage by identifying their nationality as Moorish American, just as one interviewee characterizes herself as a "Russian seed planted in American soil. I'd rather be Russian-American than just American." With its lively street interviews and statements from Temple members, Love of Nationality and Citizenship prods us to reexamine our perceptions of the links between ancestry, nationality and citizenship.