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Sunday, February 19, 2017

#IAmNotYourNegro - A review

[VIDEO] It seems often when I go to the movies the thing to see are some low-brow comedies such as the often maligned Bad Santa 2, Office Christmas Party or more recently Fist Fight. Those movies would give a great tickle but these aren't films that would place in the Oscars. Nor do they have to they're just entertainment that could be forgotten about later.

Before viewing Fist Fight on Saturday, I also viewed I Am Not Your Negro. It's a documentary based on an unpublished manuscript by the late author James Baldwin. It offers his thoughts on American culture, race relations, and the civil rights movement. It's pretty powerful and Baldwin's voice is provided by one Samuel L. Jackson and you couldn't recognize him if you tried. Jackson's voice was so unusually subdued.

We see this film has not only scenes shot in the present day at various locales such as New York or taking an interstate going somewhere. We also see a lot of archival news footage some of which I suspect was colorized for the film. Also we see this interspersed with footage from past films which were shown during Baldwin's lifetime.

Films are apart of American culture and Baldwin attacks it. For example using John Wayne who we know generally is a star of the Western genre. So the attack on America's culture begins with the idea of cowboys fighting Indians with the cowboys always the good guys. And then the portrayal of the weak Black man and a very unsexualized Black man - feel some would disagree with that characterization.

It seems Baldwin had been a figure in the civil rights movement. We see footage of him giving lectures or indeed him on a TV program addressing people who may not clearly see the racial angle to American issues of his day. Baldwin as an author who just so happens to be Black is quite eloquent and I understood his points even if my views on race doesn't share the same passion or experience his does.

I have to say, the only time I knew Baldwin existed was his brief appearance as a vampire during Arsenio Hall's tenure on FOX's The Late Show. Also I'm sure there was a biography I found of him long before the creation of Wikipedia or perhaps a quick introduction to him in a textbook on African-American literature. Regardless this gave me a greater appreciation for him as an author.

Perhaps someone will be seen as the voice of this generation with some of the troubles Black-America is facing. Baldwin's generation faced outright racism which was at best legal or at worst outright homicidal. By legal I mean to say to legally treat Blacks differently than the more favored portion of the population. Blacks having to ride the back of the bus or Blacks having to enter a business through a separate entrance. For a period of time in this country something such as that was legal.

Today's generation faces different obstacles of which racism could be one, but I may state that it's not as big as others. It's not as obvious as it once was. One could argue if it's an issue it's an issue in the criminal justice system. Perhaps even though we no longer have "separate but equal" it still might be an issue in public education.

When I saw the movie on Saturday, it's message resonated and the patrons in the auditorium gave the film a round of applause when it was over. Great film and if you see it, hopefully it will resonate with you as well.

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