Documentary Review: “I Am Not Your Negro” (2016) ★★★★★


The racial issue will never be left behind: because there are still enough racists left to pass their hatred onto the next generation, and the people who are unfortunate enough to be a part of such an unacceptable and outrageous part of history… like you and me. For that, there is no need to have to distinguish yourself based on the color of your or my skin. Because it simply does not matter. Because the black-and-white issue will always exist until we all agree to become “colorblind”.

Raoul Peck’s I am Not Your Negro is another shameful and inhumane story of our past and the present we must face. Being written by James Baldwin with the voice of Samuel L. Jackson, the film gives goosebumps when we look at who we are, who we were and who we can become if what you see in the movie won’t stop for once at all.  As the film itself explores racism in the United States, you will get a chance to have a different and unique perspective at it through James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript Remember This House about civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.

James Baldwin’s reminiscences are touching, deep and thought-provoking, as you move from one scene to another. Broken into chapters, such as Paying My Dues, Heroes, witness, Purity, Selling the Negro, it helps the viewer to get into the skin of what it means to be black in the United States. In the meantime, The Selling the Negro part will simply break your heart into little pieces, realizing that there was a time when a human being was sold as if he or she was goods or unnamed things worth nothing but being unconditionally used.

Filmmaker Raoul Peck creates a dark atmosphere in his brilliantly made documentary film that will help the viewer get a history lesson. By watching it, you will keep asking yourself, how could we ever allow such a thing to happen? Why the Black Lives Matter movement should exist in the 21st Century where all people assumed to be open-minded? This movie once again shows that history repeats itself, but in a different way. By looking back at the 19th century, or 20th, nothing has changed, not even a bit, that would finally help the filmmakers to make a move from the dark subject matter to something more positive. Yet, we do not need to be reminded of how bad we were, but it’s the only way to help us to learn from our mistakes.

In conclusion, I am Not Your Negro is a cleverly crafted documentary film using archival footages in a way to keep you on the right pace in the journey. While the editing was an absolute winner, Samuel L. Jackson’s voice contributes as well, by delivering James Baldwin’s thought in the best sentimental way possible. Having said that, there is no reason for anyone to skip watching this movie. In fact, it has to be screened in every single corner of this world to show that we are all the citizen of the worlds, regardless of our fate, ability or the color of our skin.

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