'I Am Not Your Negro' Movie Review
Start writing a post

'I Am Not Your Negro' Movie Review

James Baldwin Presents Scathing Commentary On Race Relations In America

'I Am Not Your Negro' Movie Review
Magnolia Pictures

In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House. The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends—Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only thirty completed pages of this manuscript. Now, in his incendiary new documentary, I am Not Your Negro, master filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words. This film is a journey into black American history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter and beyond. Confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of these three leaders, Baldwin and Peck have produced a work that challenges the very definition of what America stands for.

The film moves in chronological order with flashbacks to the past. Equipped with a voice over from Samuel L. Jackson who sounds so melodious and clear I didn't recognize his voice. I am Not Your Negro will expose a new generation of activist will listen to James Baldwin's inner thoughts, how he felt about living in France versus living in America, and north versus south and how they both handle racism. Baldwin meets the challenge head on with eloquence and pose, although deep down he's scared to death of whether or not he will make it through the day. He stresses that African Americans must constantly be vigilant to survive.

James Baldwin was an articulate, assertive man who spoke sternly about race relations in America. He struggled with remaining optimistic regarding the state of white supremacy. He searched for truth in an attempt to understand the motives and the attitudes as to why white people hated black people so vehemently. All of that topped with watching his friends and civil rights leaders die--his optimism began to turn into hopelessness. He never considered himself an activist. He thought of himself as a witness or an observer. He was able to discern the distinct differences between Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Medgar Evers. Malcolm X represented force and the protection of African Americas. King believed in non-violent resistance. Evers was the youngest of them all and represented the NAACP and believed in justice.

Baldwin was the oldest of the four, but Medgar Evers was the first to be gunned down. He was under the impression since he was the oldest he should be the first to die. Baldwin didn't believe that all white people were racist, but lived in constant fear of death from them. He also believed that their fear of the unknown is what made them the way they are. That deep down white people may not hate us because we’re black but because we challenge their status in American society. The endless need for reassurance from black people is what keeps them comfortable, despite the transgressions white people have committed against blacks.

What is scary is how seamlessly the film transitions between the racially charged tragedies of today and the tragedies of the civil rights movement. It paints a picture that race relations have not changed in since the 1960s. Black people were not put in a position of fear by themselves. There is a sense of denial from white people and their refusal to face racism, which has placed black individuals in fear. The bottom line of James Baldwin's message is the future of black people in America rests in the hands of white Americans and their willingness to face racism. They hold the privilege and the platforms to promote equality.

James Baldwin was a poet, a prophet, and a renaissance man that has left his mark on black history and American history. His voice continues to resonate through generations. His scathing critique on race in America is as accurate as it is profound. His struggle is our struggle, and his desire to share the past with us will give audiences an idea of what to expect from the future. History will repeat itself if things don't change, and change starts by acknowledging and acceptance.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

college students waiting in a long line in the hallway

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments