Sunday, February 26, 2017

I Am Not Your Negro

I had heard a few people mention how amazing I Am Not Your Negro is, but hadn't heard details about it or read any reviews. I was expecting a biographical documentary about James Baldwin. Instead, I Am Not Your Negro brings to life 20 pages Baldwin had been working on about the lives and deaths of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Medgar Evers. The narration (by Samuel L Jackson) is a reflection on racism in the 60s and 70s, but images and footage of violence from the civil rights era are juxtaposed with images and footage of recent instances of police brutality and murder. The violence that is used to enforce racial oppression is like a crackling fire throughout the documentary. The silence in the theater was tense and mesmerized, and when Martin Luther King Jr was murdered I and others gasped. Even though of course we knew he was murdered, the filmmaker did such a marvelous job of conveying the conflicts of that era and the narrative of the fierce fight for justice, that King's death hit us in the stomach in a freshly powerful way. From that moment until the end of the film tears were running down my cheeks and you could hear others crying. When it ended, even though just a movie, everyone burst into applause. I actually wanted to stand up and give it an ovation. We all sat stunned and shaken during the credits, no one quite ready to put on their coat and return to the rest of their lives.

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