Review of I Am Not Your Negro

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

I was captivated and enlightened as an African American when I watched the movie documentary, I Am Not Your Negro, which was inspired by James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript. I felt a tinge of validation of what so many African Americans and I my age and older feel in our experience as Americans. It put a light on the humanity and substance of African Americans catapulting them to be looked at and thought of realistically as individuals combating detrimental life changing conditions and facing real demons.

The psyche of the African American was examined through Baldwin as he faced and tried to identify with the trying times in America during the Civil Rights Movement. Ironic as it may sound, there are many adult African Americans who don’t understand their history and how they came to be judged, devalued and denied opportunities that even today affect their social and economic condition.

I feel this movie will help Whites who don’t know the truth or were told lies about African Americans and view them differently. We know that in many White households, children were taught to trivialize or hate Blacks—being told they were lazy, unproductive, and inconsequential. We all know hate is not hereditary or normal. It is taught. Why the need to perpetuate hate toward African Americans should be the real underlying question in discussing race relations in this country.

I understand why so many of my friends have seen the movie several times and taken friends and family to partake in an honest depiction of what they see as a real valid personal adaptation of the African American experience in America during the Civil Rights Movement from an African American perspective. The movie is a must see for any nationality or group of people sincerely seeking to understand and advocate for the fair treatment of African Americans.

Without reservations, I feel it should be seen and discussed afterwards by any parties concerned with bettering race relations here in this country. I deeply feel we would be doing our young generation a grave disservice by not advocating for them to see the movie. I strongly feel it should be mandatory viewing for middle school and high school students followed with group or individual discussions.

The movie details the feelings James Baldwin’s experiences when describing the essence, life work, and purpose of three Black icons of the Civil Rights Movement: Meager Evers, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X. He follows the lives and works of these three Black martyrs when he returns back to this country from living in Paris where he sought refuge from the scathing injustices and discriminatory practices toward African Americans in this country.

The movie is a raw but realistic depiction of the metamorphosis transpiring in the lives of these key Black leaders contributing to their untimely deaths. In their unselfish and courageous endeavors to promote equality and justice for people of color, many Africans Americans are presented with a mirror of what they felt and experienced.

The movie, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, offers the viewers live undiluted documentation of events and interviews giving one a better understanding of the struggle of African Americans in this country for justice and equality. I felt the movie was right on point, captivating the pain and suffering of a people in their struggle to be accepted and respected by a cruel and hostile society. What the movie is so successful at presenting is that despite the cruelty and dehumanizing treatment of Blacks by their oppressors, they persevered and refrained from manifesting the hate and ill treatment ravished upon them. One can’t but deduct that the African American struggle is a fight and struggle for love and acceptance—not hate and ostracism.

Whether one likes it or not, history denotes that the unfair and inhumane treatment of African Americans warrants reparations, not just an apology. Centuries of free labor by African Americans laid the foundation for White wealth that is still being reaped and enjoyed by their descendants. History unravels the truth, helping to understand the present situation and predicament of Blacks still suffering the sting of racial oppression economically, politically, and socially.

As an African American, I am encouraged with the rising number of Whites acknowledging the truth and willing to help right a monumental wrong by fighting discriminatory practices against Blacks by advocating for reparations to level the playing field. Contrary to what many may believe, I feel a majority of the people in this country has a conscience.

In conclusion, the need to label Africans Americans by derogatory and demeaning names tells you something about their oppressors. What was their motive? Answer that question and the truth will unravel.

It is not until we can sit at the same table and have an honest dialogue of history that allows us to go forward making gains to unify this country. This movie is a must see that can only help in mending race relations in American.