30 January, 2017

"I Am Not Your Negro" Review (*****)

Written by Christina Nicole

Raoul Peck brings to fruition the goals James Baldwin had for the book he never finished, chronicling the journeys of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr., Remember This House. This documentary, both black and white and colored, is a film that holds up a mirror to America and shows the unrelenting truth. Samuel L. Jackson narrates the documentary using Baldwin’s words. Peck connects the past and the present in every section of the film. He juxtaposes the experiences of the four main characters with that of white America in such a way that it feels like James Baldwin himself made this movie.

Raoul Peck seamlessly weaves the lives of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, and James Baldwin into the fabric of America. Peck uses interviews and letters to let Baldwin’s voice fervently echo throughout the film. "I Am Not Your Negro" is an intelligent documentary that doesn’t just wash over the audience, but baptizes it.

James Baldwin is a hero for the educated, middle class black. In the 50s, 60s and 70s, he not only saw what was happening, but was within an arm’s reach. He recorded it and was able to articulate the experiences in a way that only he could. He was able to express in public forum, the plight of the black man during these times. He was able to travel the world and get away from the chaotic realities of America; in doing so, he could analyze what was happening, while keeping a profound connection to it.

"I Am Not Your Negro" comes at a perfect time. In the past year, America has seen films that present black history with a more docile story. "Loving" and "Hidden Figures" are great films that tell positive, uplifting stories that have never been in the public eye. "I Am Not Your Negro" is not docile, it is a strong black man’s story.

"I Am Not Your Negro" asks questions that require the audience look within itself to seek the answer. This film takes the audience on a journey and how each individual member of the audience responds will reveal  a truth within that they may have never know about themselves.

5 out of 5 stars.

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