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'I Am Not Your Negro' Trailer: James Baldwin Dares Us To Look Away

By Emily Cutler | Videos | February 1, 2017 |

By Emily Cutler | Videos | February 1, 2017 |

Happy February First, everybody! For those here in the U.S., it’s the beginning of Black History Month, at least until President Bannon declares it All History Matters Month, because oh my god that could actually be a thing! Laugh through the pain, laugh through the pain! More importantly, a lot of people might be questioning the need for Black History Month given the fact that Black people are no longer enslaved, and are afforded some of the basic rights given to most citizens, such as voting, provided you haven’t found yourself inescapably trapped in the system of poverty and incarceration which disproportionately affects African-Americans. Anyhoodle.

It’s a fair question if you believe that equality = not having actively enforced, racist laws still on the books. If, on the other hand, you believe that Black people should be trusted, valued and celebrated as much as white people, you might want to check out the Oscar nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro about James Baldwin.

Oh, what’s that? You’re unfamiliar with mid-twentieth century writer/poet/activist James Baldwin? You wouldn’t be the only one. See, despite my taking an excessive number of high school English classes and completing three years of an English degree at an accredited university, I didn’t know anything about the acclaimed essayist until a few years ago. But what were my schools supposed to do? Not teach my The Canterbury Tales for the fifth time? Put in Baldwin and bump out Hemingway? He had that whole thing! About the Nada? It was his whole Nada thing.

Luckily Baldwin’s last manuscript, a memoir about his involvement in the Civil Rights movement, which was unfinished at the time of his death, has been adapted to film using interview footage of Baldwin and Dick Cavett, and narration by Samuel L. Jackson. And as just a piece of interesting trivia, McGraw-Hill took the unprecedented step of suing Baldwin’s estate after his death to recover their $200,000 advancement on his book. Because everybody’s a dickhole. The movie itself seems like some pretty serious shit, though.

Most of the white Americans I’ve ever encountered truly have nothing whatever against Negros. That’s really not the questions. Really it’s about apathy and ignorance. You don’t know what’s happening on the other side of the wall because you don’t want to know.

All joking and snark aside, that interview was filmed in 1968, and we’re still dealing with the same bullshit. It’s long past time where not being actively racist is good enough. Find out what’s happening on the other side of the wall, and do something about it.

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