DDO's Film Reviews: I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO
This is my review for this documentary upon my second viewing of it. It was just as powerful to me this time around as it was when I saw it in theaters. This whole documentary is a deep analysis of America and its ways when it comes to approaches and treatment of Black people that they labeled as their “negroes” and “niggers.” This is important because as Baldwin states, “the story of the negro in America is the story of America. It is not a pretty story.” I love how the film starts at the beginning and travels through the history of profound Black leaders, Medgar Evers, Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr. Though he and all of them had different approaches to changing the world, they all wanted it to be one different from the ones they were living in. Black people have had to pay for what was at the bottom of white rage for centuries and that is indeed terror. Terror hung Black men from trees in the past and now riddles the same Black bodies of men, women and children with bullets. With this terror, reality is lost and a narrative is created full of “sorry(s)” and “I was afraid(s)” that suffice for the taking of any life in a dark body.
In the documentary, Baldwin is seen explaining that when white people state “give me liberty or give me death,” it is met with cheers of praise but when a Black person does the same, he is instantly treated like a criminal or “bad nigger.” This still persists today with what is said and done by Black people in comparison to others and can be heavily seen in the NFL currently. Everything is fine until you voice an opinion and once you do all hell breaks loose and they do not want anything to do with you. This brings me to another portion of the doc when Baldwin is explaining that he cannot argue with a person that believes they will kill Blacks off like Indians now that they no longer need them to pick their cotton. That to me is a perfect comparison for what is currently happening with Colin Kapernik and the NFL but back to Baldwin. He focuses heavily on the many ways that our country is a contradiction and hands out a contradicting message. We are indeed trapped between who we wish to be and the reality of who we really are.
It is clear that America does not want to admit that their way of doing things is not the perfect way or that the American Dream is covered in the blood, sweat and tears of population they view as strangers. Black people are strangers on a land they literally built with their bare hands, imagine that. The prosperity of America is shared amongst whites but as they float around in this prosperous world, they fail to come to terms with how they got there and what their victims suffer for them to live such lives in the past and in the present. They have not had to look at us and some likely never will. This is why in the past and the present there is so much division and misunderstanding that is usually started by those with power. I like that Baldwin states that white is a metaphor for power because the power of white privilege and white supremacy is indeed what makes America and its operations what they are. It is easier for white people with their power to float around in their prosperous world acting as if they have worked so hard to get themselves where they are knowing that all, if not most, did not work hard at all. It is easier to never confront the evils of their ways of life than to face them head on and rid themselves of them.
As Baldwin states, “not everything that is faced can be changed but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” With all of these things in mind as well as everything else mentioned in the doc, we have a question that needs to be answered. “Why was it necessary to have a nigger in the first place?” This profound question according to Baldwin is what the future of the country is dependent upon and I agree but do not believe anyone will ever answer it. There was a time where we were not where we are today but someone saw fit to bring us over and use us. There is a quote from Donald Trump that is in the “sorry(s)” flashing onto the screen in a certain section of the doc and I believe this is how he’d answer the question. “I’m very sorry I did this to you but you gotta get used to it. It’s one of those little problems in life.”
The facts of history cannot be altered. Everything is ever-present and clear as to where we are and how we got here. Open your eyes for today. Open your mind for today. Look out into our current world and the state in which we are living and let all things Baldwin marinate as well as the others he so deeply studied, admired and not and you will see why he and others that look like him are not your negro. They are intelligent human beings with the strength of a million moons and the ability to do anything they set their minds to. White people needed a negro and now they do not so they do not know what to do and they do not understand the revolt by them but only because they’re not willing to. I thoroughly enjoyed this documentary and I believe it is a valuable tool for our present and future.
I I highly recommend this doc to all people from all walks of life who are in search of a higher level understanding of some extremely complex issues or for people who just love docs and are in search of good ones to add to their list!
fi Find out where and how you can watch it below!