I Am Not Your Negro

The film I Am Not Your Negro brings to life Baldwin’s thirty page manuscript of what was going to be his work titled, “Remember This House”. Baldwin’s narration of the work throughout the documentary humanizes the text and complements the visuals. There are several noteworthy moments in the film that deserve attention. The first is Baldwin’s commentary on how black people are portrayed in the media in comparison to white people, specifically film. Baldwin describes how white men are portrayed as heroes, whereas black men are depicted as criminals. He states that he “despised and feared those heroes” and that “his countrymen were his enemies.” Another notable moment is when Baldwin separates himself from the Black Panther Party, the church, and the NAACP. His reasons being that he doesn’t think all white people are evil, the church doesn’t practice the commandment of loving thy neighbor, and that the NAACP enforces classism among the black community. By distinguishing himself apart from these groups he establishes himself as a self-fashioning individual that is not easily polarized by the media as Malcolm X or Martin Luther King Jr. were. After reading Go Tell It On the Mountain, it is clear that Baldwin wants to separate himself from hate that is fueling America during the time of the Civil Rights Movement. Despite this being an effect of his moral compass, Baldwin’s desire to not subscribe to any of those groups was a marketable choice. It made him palatable to a white audience, which is why I think we see him in several talk shows. Another significant part of the film is when he describes himself as the “The Great Black Hope of the Great White Father.” His criticism of his role as an influential figure of black hope amongst the assassinations of Malcolm X, King, and Levers, is substantial because it allows the viewer to realize that despite movements for anti-racism, America was still extremely racist. It didn’t matter if Baldwin was “The Great Black Hope of the Great White Father” if countless black people were still being killed.