James Baldwin: I Am Not Your Negro Review
Directed By:Raoul Peck
Staring: Samuel L. Jackson, James Baldwin, Dick Cavett
Writers: James Baldwin
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 95 Minutes
Synopsis: Writer James Baldwin tells the story of race in modern America with his unfinished novel, Remember This House.
Baldwin’s Words Resonates More Than They Should Today
I Am Not Your Negro is an incredible look into the observations of James Baldwin on race and race relations in the 50’s 60’s and 70’s, which show just how far we have not come as a society. Baldwin has always views race in a light that was accurate and truthful while also academic. The film shows clips of him talking at Oxford and on nightly shows to a majority white audience, and he does so without holding back and without sugar coating. He had a way with words to do as such and still be brought back and listened to which is part of his greatness.
The Most interesting part of this film is how relevant his words and observations are to this day. With the election of Donald Trump and appointment of white nationalist and supremacist in his cabinet, we still have a problem with racism and race in our country. Baldwin speaks about a time while in Paris seeing a news article with Dorothy Counts, a 15yr old black girl being the first to integrate a school in Charlotte. Baldwin says “There was unutterable pride, tension and anguish in that girl’s face as she approached the halls of learning, with history jeering at her back. It made me furious. It filled me with both hatred and pity. And it made me ashamed. Some one of us should have been there with her.” The image of Dorothy in that school is often what we see now at Muslim, and Black Lives Matter protest, a group of angry whites taunting people who just want equality. Baldwin ties in the deaths of MLK, Malcom X and Medgar Evers to his views on race in this country. Their deaths prove there is no right way to go about asking for equality, which is another thread we see today when people complain about protest, weather is a march in the streets, in the airport or kneeling for the national anthem.
James Baldwin says “I’m terrified at the moral apathy, at the death of the heart, which is happening in my country.” This is something that many Americans especially people of color are feeling right now with not only the election of Donald Trump but what he represents to so many of his supporters. Unfortunately this film will probably be seen by black people or white people who already have a decent understating of race and not the millions of people who voted for Trump who need to see the correlation. Peck’s ability to tie Baldwin’s words from his book with his interviews from the 60’s to whats going on today is masterful and sad at the same time. The passion and rage that many black people felt at that time has never really left and is being boiled back up today and this film shines a light on the inequalities People Of Color experience and how the only real answer to them is white people deciding to change.