Oh my gaaaawd!!! My first review of 2017 and boy is it a fireball. I’ve read literature by James Baldwin but I never heard him speak. In this documentary, I became acquainted quickly with his intelligent and powerful testimony. I Am Not Your Negro is a phenomenal film that analyzes the plague of racism here in the United States. It is directed by Raoul Peck, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, and written by James Baldwin himself.
What can I say? This has been of my most difficult reviews to date. There was simply so much to digest and the things I saw and heard were gut wrenching. It was a tough pill to swallow. The documentary is edited in a way that takes you on a journey with Baldwin from his youth into adulthood. In addition, stock footage and news coverage from historical events were used to take the viewer back in time. It exposed me to a lot of films and shows from the early 1900’s that had underlying and/or blatant themes of homosexuality, segregation, propaganda, and hate.
Never before have I seen a movie that covered so much content in an organic way. Samuel L. Jackson narrated with a voice unheard on film before. He read letters of Baldwin with passion and poetic prowess. His words were informative yet lashing. At the same time, it was comforting and provided a contrast to the explicit images on-screen. There were people in the theater gasping, grunting, shaking their heads, and crying. Black, white, brown, it made no difference. This film will tugs on the heart-strings, that is if you have one.
I would like to go see it again. Maybe it will be easier the second time around. Baldwin spoke with such precision and care. He expressed the fear that non-white people face on a daily basis. The most compelling point he made was the failed attempt in dehumanizing people of color. That by doing so, racist white people themselves became the very monsters that they fabricated in their minds. I highly recommend you go see this. Also take a family member, a friend, someone who doesn’t look like you, a coworker, little cousins, elders, anyone. Make it a duty to share this story with another member of the human family and maybe then the healing that this country needs can begin. It’s early 2017 and I Am Not Your Negro gets a 10/10.