Van Nuys Senior High School

Movie review: ‘I Am Not Your Negro’

“I Am Not Your Negro” is a compelling manifestation of the experiences of James Baldwin, from his vision of the past to the present.

Baldwin reflects on his memories of three, iconic black personalities– Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers– speculating everywhere from the simple lives they lived to the profound racial battles in which they were engaged to their ubiquitous assassinations that left a permanent mark on the hopes of racial justice for blacks.

Baldwin’s thoughts and perceptions regarding race relations between black and white Americans are mirrored in the civil movement today, reviving the distinguished names of Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Christopher McCray, and more, whom unknowingly died in vain as the faces of police brutality and racial inequality.

Several meaningful scenes of old films are portrayed in the documentary, exhibiting the general outlook and treatment of blacks. One scene depicts a non-colored daughter being ashamed of her black mother, while another depicts the prominent role of black men and women in the popular culture. However, many of the scenes were designed to humiliate blacks by personifying the reality of their hostile experiences.

Baldwin reveals his latent convictions of our contemporary reality, racial conflicts, and steadfast white innocence. His intense words have penetrated the strong barrier of truth in all aspects. The incorporation of old talk shows, television reports, and scenes from classic movies only underscore the shattered identity of black Americans. In reporting his experiences of the civil rights movement, Baldwin portrays himself as a bystander, watching on the sidelines, and hidden in the shadows of heroism.

Baldwin captivates his audience in a trance of historical empathy and the issues of black America, many of which still have yet to be resolved. His active portrayal of the lives of blacks accurately interprets the pervading beliefs and fears of black Americans, while shedding light on the desperate need for change.