I Am Not Your Negro 9/10
“This is not the land of the free, only very unwillingly and sporadically the land of the brave.” I decided to watch this tonight not knowing what it was about or anything. I am glad that I did. I did not feel that same sense of hopeless dread I did after watching 13th. I couldn't even rate that movie. This movie, to me, is about American history as much as it is about the history of Black people in America. James Baldwin even points out that his ancestors did not ask or want to come to this country. This is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. Don't let that turn you off if you are someone that doesn't enjoy him. He doesn't distract from this whatsoever.
Placed between narration of Baldwin's writing are clips from interviews with him which are so amazing to watch. No one speaks like that anymore. No one. They also show clips of Malcolm X as well as MLK. There are also scenes from classic films as Baldwin speaks as well as present day footage of police brutality. This is done to show that the more things change the more they stay the same. This isn't a movie that tries to paint White people as monsters. It actually wants you to look at yourself and ask why things are the way they are. Its hard to discuss progress when you see Blacks being hung in one scene and then beaten and killed on video in the next. Baldwin believed that change could happen but when it does chances are it will be bloody, and he is shocked it hadn't happened yet.
There is one part where during an interview this man asks Baldwin why he makes things about race, pointing out that Baldwin is a famous writer and scholar and does not have as much in common with regular Black people. Oh, man. He goes on a two minute explanation of the version of America this guy has compared to the reality Baldwin had to live in and why he left the country and lived in Paris with only forty dollars in his pocket. One thing I thought of while watching this, and other documentaries where Black people are being attacked is “Where are these racist people now?” Think about that shit. There is someone who was a teenager in the early 60's shouting all kinds of terrible shit at Black people just trying to go to school, walk the street, or just live life and they are walking around right now. Shit's nuts to me. Watch this. It made me want to read more about the civil rights and Baldwin's works.
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