Check It Out:

Raoul Peck’s Film: I Am Not Your Negro

February 7, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |



By Andy Zee

I Am Not Your Negro, an Oscar-nominated documentary by Raoul Peck, is a must see. If you think you know the reality of the brutal depth and horror of white supremacy in America, if you think you’ve seen it all and even if you have, you’ve not seen it delivered like this.

Words here can not match the rage and cutting to the brutal heart of racism in America of the eloquence of James Baldwin. Every word of this documentary is Baldwin’s, a Black writer who was a major literary and public intellectual from the 1950s into the 1980s.

Early in the film, we learn of its inspiration and framework in a letter Baldwin wrote to his literary agent in 1979 proposing a new book about the lives, struggles, and assassinations of three men he knew: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. Baldwin completed only 30 pages of this manuscript, yet Raoul Peck breathes life into Baldwin’s unapologetic indictment of racism and white supremacy in a film of historical and cultural sweep that shuttles from slavery to Ferguson, Missouri. It is a short course in the ferocity and heroism of the civil rights and Black liberation struggle of the 1950s and 1960s, of the bedrock vicious white supremacy of America, deeply embedded in its culture and politics.

Baldwin wanted to save America from itself—I Am Not Your Negro is both a powerful, proud assertion of his and Black people’s humanity and a scathing condemnation of the inhumanity of racism, even as it is framed by Baldwin’s argument and plea for white America to look in the mirror and cleanse itself of complicity in the horrific oppression of Black people (as well as Native Americans). While there are limitations to this framework in fully comprehending the root of the problem of race in America and its solution, there is much to learn from and be provoked by Baldwin and by Raoul Peck's film.

I Am Not Your Negro ignites the passion and determination to dig deep and to rise up to rid the world of the brutal inhumanity of white supremacy—its legacy, continual horror throughout U.S. history, and its central role at the heart of the fascist regime of Trump and Pence.

Here I won’t say more, but encourage you to see this film, discuss it, and then . . . act accordingly.



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