Review of I Am Not Your Negro (2016)
Seen in 2017.
To watch the TV screen for any length of time is to learn some really frightening things about the American sense of reality. We are cruelly trapped between what we would like to be and what we actually are, and we cannot possibly become what we would like to be until we are willing to ask ourselves just why the lives we lead on this continent are mainly so empty, so tame and so ugly. These images are designed not to trouble, but to reassure. They also weaken our ability to deal with the world as it is; ourselves as we are.
Easily Samuel L. Jackson’s finest performance. With Jackson’s fragile voice, James Baldwin comes across as a black, anti-racist, compassionate, non-fiction-writing Frankfurt School H. P. Lovecraft, complete with bug eyes. Interestingly, the title is voluntarily censored because, at the time of production, Baldwin’s actual phrase was considered morally wrong.