An Important View on Race in “I am Not Your Negro”

The issue of race is one that has been around for decades, and unfortunately, still a serious issue today. Back in 1979, James Baldwin, an essayist, playwright and author, pitched the ideal of a book to his editor that would focus on the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X and Medgar Evers, who were all actually friends. When Baldwin passed away in 1987, he had only worked and completed approximately 30 pages of the book, which was entitled “I Am Not Your Negro.”

Once the book was found and read, Raoul Peck took the pages and began to weave an extremely compelling documentary, which connects the ideas Baldwin had on race to both the struggles in black history, as well as more contemporary movements, such as Black Lives Matter.

About the Coming Film

The original words that were written by Baldwin will be spoken by Samuel L. Jackson in the coming documentary, and it will include a collection of all types of archival material, which includes footage from the Civil Rights era, still photographs, interviews on television with Baldwin, and more modern images of various racial unrest. By using the voice of Jackson to speak the words that Baldwin had written, the documentary is going to be extremely impactful and creative voice which allows Baldwin, who is very well-known for his insightful words on the experience of the blacks in America, to be present during the film.

What Does the Film Portray?

The film that is coming from the original 30 pages written by Baldwin portray his voice. In the original pages, he had written, “we carry our history with us.” He followed this with “if we pretend otherwise, we are criminals.” This is considered to be a central theme of the newly produced documentary and the way it uses archival material that shows the dark racial history in the country, as well as present day issues related to racial inequality. Everything in the documentary has been selected carefully, along with the actual clips that show Baldwin. In one of the clips, he was a guest on the talk show hosted by Dick Cavett.

The response that Baldwin has to a white professor who makes the claim he has put too much focus on race and color being a divisive force is a very strong indictment of the narrow thinking present and one of the most powerful scenes in the entire film.

The documentary, “I Am Not Your Negro,” can be seen on PBS stations on Independent Lens. It is set to air on January 15th, 2018 at 10 p.m. EDT. Those who are aware of Baldwin’s other works know that this documentary is going to be a strong statement on race, past, present and future. It is a must see for anyone who is interested in this topic and who wants to learn more about a man who had a huge impact on race inequality. Without him, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

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