I Am Not Your Negro by Raoul Peck

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Raoul Pecks and the Documentary

Raoul Pecks, the director of the film I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO strikes the passages of this new documentary and closely connects it to the likes of the devil finds work with the origin of Marlons Riggs Ethnic Notions and Spike lee’s Bambloozed.

Introduction and Homage to James Baldwin

Peck uses the unfinished manuscript of Remember this house, by James Baldwin. Peck introduces the film from its beginning and being an admirer of Baldwin he is committed to paying homage him by presenting him in a light he had never be seen before. His family allowed him access to all Baldwin essays and letters and most importantly the manuscript of remember this house which he had been working o before he died. Moreover, this manuscript explores his experiences and also gives views to other activists like martin Luther king and others.

Relevance of Documentaries in Today's World

In the new world where racism has been aligned with the likes of Freddie Gray, Michael Brown and recent police brutality and also movements like black life matters these documentaries are essential more than ever because they will help to open the minds, ears and hearts of the people.

Baldwin's Return to the US and Clarity through Narration

This story begins from Baldwin’s return to U.S in 1957 after living in France for almost a decade; his return was triggered when he saw a picture of Dorothy counts a fifteen year old who was surrounded by violent white mob when she attended the desegregated Harding high school in Charlotte, North Carolina. Through Samuel L Jackson narration we are able to have a moment of clarity and to also understand Baldwin’s character. Jackson scales back his usual memes and delivers this story with serious bass and adding weight to every word through his narration and it mesmerizing and it helps in commanding the attention it deserves. Moreover, it allows viewers to fully appreciate Baldwin’s unmatched eloquence and paint a picture of the artist through his own words even though they omit his sexuality.

Recognition of Heroes and Identifying Injustices

The heroes recognized in this movie include Orilla bill Miller, She was Baldwin’s white schoolteacher who introduced him to the economics of race. Through this, the director suggests this act helped in developing his rational detest for stereotypes like the scared clumsy Janitor Mervyn Leroy’s film they won’t forget. Baldwin hated the image that was portrayed and he did not fear to express his views in anger which peck compares it to stock footage of bug-eyed, racist film fanatics throughout the years. Baldwin also identifies the systems injustices, and the movie shows his ability to indulge his audience in whichever situation they might be in. Slave trade which was commonly referred to as “selling the negro” shows the movement from slavery to the inclusion of the black people in the society and hence he links it to MLK’s “free at last claim. Peck portrays him over footage during Obama's inauguration while they were matched which exhibits a sense of optimism and melancholic mood, hence going on to show a sense of not giving up. He also does not compromise on his political message even though to some it might not be acceptable.

Capturing Baldwin's Frustrations and Contemplations

As you continue to watch on, you are able to identify Peck's impeccable ability to capture Baldwin's frustrations and contemplations. Through incidents like that of Dorothy counts frustrations, I Am Not Your Negro uses it to measure the nation's ugliness, and also its willingness to change, however that incremental change may be. Peck highlights Baldwin’s reminiscence with harsh accounts of southern boys shouting at an innocent young woman, hence goes on to quote Baldwin when he said that he does not hate white people, but at times he has thought of killing them, and the movie appeals to these volatile and valuable observations in rapid series.

Baldwin's Response to Racial Divide and American Way of Life

When a philosophy professor challenges Baldwin on the Dick Cavett show for his attitude and openly holds him responsible and the black people for the continued racial divide, he boldly tells that “You are the one making an issue out of this, not me.” He takes him in, and in that moment he captures the entire reason of the movie and the black struggle of equality. Moreover, he doesn’t stop at racism he also captures the American popular and material culture in general and accuses them of letting consumerism impair them into a false sense of happiness and satisfaction which allows them to ignore all the bad with American way of life.

Baldwin's Disgust and Desire for Connection

Baldwin hates Sidney Poitiers star status because of his inability to be assumed sexual by his mainstream. He expresses his disgust on TV's ability to show absurd behavior which the director adjusts with horrific videos of fights and clips of daytime shows on interracial marriages. In accordance with this, Baldwin's words are impassioned, fatigued and cynical but almost always harsh. The only outspoken words of Baldwin come late in the film when he lashes out on Dick Cavett show because of the pain he feels and admits that optimism is hard to maintain in the society.

Vulnerability and Conflict in Baldwin's Persona

In his wicked and wide smile one can tell that Baldwin knew he was meant not just page but the camera. Despite the sadness and bold on screen persona, his vulnerability is seen in his need to be understood by his listeners including even the white ones. It was also not a conflict for one to see that he openly pitied the white people for their moral shortcomings. “There is little in white man’s public or private life that one should desire to imitate, James Baldwin The Next Time”, although he also encourages them as loved family whose betrayal he wishes to be able to forgive one day. The tag of war between reconciliation and rebuke is what makes it absolutely a conflict war of a political documentary like this because even though Baldwin expresses his desire to protest for his rights his writings evidently show his desire to connect with his oppressor from whom he must regain his freedom from.

The Fight Against Injustice and Baldwin's Work

The recent rebirth of interest in Baldwin has robbed I Am Not Your Negro some of discovery understandings. Unlike the movie, it is structured to always take him to his word, and this ends up in overriding the writers’ complexities which seems to be at odds with his own impulses. The great risk that comes up by applying Baldwin's words to our present struggles is that it presents his work as unnecessary veneer of prophecy. His projections allow understanding that the fight against injustice is inevitable.


In conclusion, one can see that despite how awful life gets and how much hatred and injustice Baldwin endured and regardless of how difficult and hard it is to continue to fight, at the end of the day it’s still possible. He endured as an intellectual monument to black determination even though he saw horrible things he was determined to work hard for a better future. I Am Not Your Negro is a statement not just for today but for all times.

September 25, 2023




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