I Am Not Your Negro – A Review by Cynthia Flores

– A Review by Cynthia Flores
Directed by Raoul Peck
Written By James Baldwin
Rated PG-13
Running time 95 min
Documentary Feature
Release date: February 3rd Angelika Dallas
WIth the Voices of Samuel L. Jackson, James Baldwin, Dick Cavett
The film starts with white text on a black and white split screen stating “In June 1979, acclaimed author James Baldwin commits to a complex endeavor: tell his story of America through the lives of three of his murdered friends:
                             Medgar Evers
                       Martin Luther King Jr
                             Malcolm X
Baldwin never got past his 30 pages of notes entitled: Remember This House, before he passed away.
Then we see James Baldwin as a guest in 1968 on the popular The Dick Cavett Show. Where he is asked “”Mr. Baldwin, I am sure you still meet the remark, why aren’t the negroes optimistic? They say that it’s getting so much better. There are negro mayors, negroes in all of sports, there are negroes in politics, they are even in television commercials now, Is it at once getting much better and still hopeless?”  His answer to that question, and the rest of this TV interview is the thread that runs thru this staggeringly beautiful, brutal and incendiary new documentary.  
The director, Raoul Peck, envisions the book James Baldwin never got to finish. Based on the letter from Baldwin to his literary agent describing his next book, a revolutionary and personal account of the lives and assassinations of three of his closest friends, and the completed 30 pages of his manuscript, the director gives us a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America.  Using Baldwin's original words and a mountain of rich archival material he holds a mirror up to the troubling state of black representation in Hollywood and beyond. This documentary is a vivid journey into black history that connects the past Civil Rights Movement to the present Black Lives Matter front.
I Am Not You Negro should be required viewing by everyone.  That’s how brilliant Baldwin’s arguments are about unconscious bias, and how they still resonate just as strongly today as they did when he first presented them in the 1960’s.
This is one of the best movies you will see this year. It is in the running for “Best Documentary” in this years Academy awards race.  This is a layered poetic documentary about an ugly part of America's history and unfortunately at times, its present state. It is a transcendent timely film about a man that was an Author, Speaker, Activist, Poet, and Witness to the changes his three martyred friends and the people involved with the Civil Rights movement started in America. Challenging the very definition of what America stands for then and now.
Go see this film, tweet about it using #Iamnotyournegro. Talk about it with your friends after you see it. It’s one of those films you’ll be talking about long after the credits have stopped rolling. I’ll admit it, some historical documentaries can be really long and boring, this one’s not. Even if you “don’t do documentaries” you’ll love this one.   
This is our past, and we must learn from it ‘cause as the saying goes, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  Or as the late great James Baldwin said it himself, “American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.”
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