I Am Not Your Negro is the Present
Raoul Peck’s I am Not Your Negro is the type of documentary that grabbed me from the preview, because who wouldn’t want to watch James Baldwin talk about stuff? The movie does an excellent job juxtaposing Baldwin’s words (read by Samuel L. Jackson) about the history of race in America with images from the past that spin a different tale of our history. It also pairs his observations about his own contemporary society with our contemporary society and the film’s many quotes that hit you right in the gut.*
The verdict: Recommended
Cost: free via Kanopy, the library’s streaming service.
Where watched: at home
*This movie does not mention that James Baldwin was a gay man at a time when uncloseted gay men were few and far between. People have criticized the film for this reason.
- Does not having the context of Baldwin’s sexuality detract from the film?
- How do you see the history of race in America play out in your life?
Favorite IMDB trivia item:
The film is based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript of 30 pages for a novel which has never before been released to the public. The film, in a way, finishes this work by incorporating other interviews and writings by Baldwin and expanding on the themes through archival footage