Wednesday, February 15, 2017

I Am Not Your Negro

 The documentary film about and inspired by the works of one of the greatest contemporary American Writers, and civil rights icon, James Baldwin. Chock full of archival footage, text, b-roll, and photographs; all accompanied by Baldwin's writing read in voice over by Samuel L. Jackson. Of course sharing the life and legacy of Baldwin yet this film is not just that, it is the story of three killings. Three Black men in the civil rights movement, all having everlasting impacts on the history of this nation and all having infamous deaths. They are Medgar Wiley Evers, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The writings read in voice over are what the film truly is at times and the imagery accompanies it. It was all meant to be a book entitled "Remember This House", yet was not completed before Baldwin's death. The fact that this story is not yet "complete" is undetectable while watching "I Am Not Your Negro". Baldwin covers all of the basis when discussing the three icons whose lives were stolen from them.

     Visually Baldwin's accounts were met with archival footage of interviews, protests, marches, the funerals, speeches, films from the time, and of course photographs of our heroes; as well as recent footage and photographs from protests and uprisings today. These Black men and their Black wives and their Black children, what drove them to do the work they did, the dichotomy of Malcolm X's discourse verses the values of Martin Luther King.; all flowed together seamlessly. We meet James Baldwin, we are hearing his story, we are learning his experiences and how he applies that to understanding the lives of his late contemporaries. The overarching story is being Black in American. What the enslavement of millions of Africans has done for this nation and its people. The effects of segregation and what it would truly mean to be "free". Baldwin is known for his talent as well as his honesty. There is no holding back on either of those things when its comes to this film. Every element was beautifully presented, all sources exhausted, the research was done and the work was put in. I will say there is one thing I consider to be missing and that is the representation of women. Black women have always been the backbone of the revolution, however in this film we are only represented as wives, which is understandable based on the story being told, personally I desired a bit more.

The imagery was breathtakingly disturbing, interviews with Baldwin challenged the "norm" and were easily applicable to the state of the world today, "I Am Not Your Negro" is a MUST-SEE.

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