I Am Not Your Negro

i-am-not-your-negroRaoul Peck’s devastating documentary, I Am Not Your Negro frames the words of author James Baldwin who tried to make sense of the murders of his friends, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. while imaging how his country might finally get rid of racism. Samuel L. Jackson provides the voice for Baldwin interspersed with interviews, film clips, and footage of events in the 1960’s forward which define our nation as fractured and segregated. Perhaps only Baldwin who is outside of outside as a gay, black man can clearly illustrate what it means to embody race and gender in America. I left the film not only feeling my white privilege, but realizing I can never truly understand what it means to live in this country as a person of color and specifically as an African-American. I can empathize, watch films, take a moment to feel others disadvantage. But tomorrow I will wake up and busy myself with the details, important or otherwise of my life and not think about race for several minutes, hours, days, or weeks until something jars me once again out of my sleep. For the black person in the United States, the feeling of other, of less than, of feared, of hated never ends. It is with them every moment of every day. Ironic that the election of a successful, talented, educated biracial man to President ushers in the worst era of public racism imaginable since the fight for equality during the 1960’s. Surprising, but not surprising. Makes me question hope. I Am Not Your Negro is mandatory viewing. You may not be in the mood to face these demons. But each of us has a responsibility to see this film, open our eyes and our hearts and work to make this country all it can be. 5 out of 5 for this essential documentary.

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