In response to our president’s “shit hole” remarks last week, and in respect for Dr. Martin Luther King, who died 50 years ago fighting for liberty and justice for all, I will re-post this piece I wrote last summer after viewing “I am not your negro” for the first time:
I have been an advocate for world equality my entire life. I was raised to think of myself as a citizen of the world and a protector of the earth. I have extreme aversion to all forms of sexism, racism, ageism, and other means of judging others by their outside appearance. Please spend some time talking to me before you decide what I think about anything.
But on the topic of racism in my country, I wish all Americans would watch the film: I am NOT your Negro, released this spring, and then we could have a national discussion of where we come from and where we hope to go.
Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. James Baldwin
In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project called “Remember This House.” The book was to be an honest and deeply personal account of the lives and assassinations of three of his close friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only 30 completed pages of this manuscript. This film is a product of filmmaker Raoul Peck’s creative vision of the book James Baldwin never finished.
For me, as a European-American raised in Kansas, and one who has followed the civil rights movement for decades, this film was a powerful eye-opener. So many may think they comprehend the black experience in the USA. If you think so, please watch this film. In my opinion, everyone can benefit from seeing this film. This is a powerful critique of racism, the kind that is found everywhere, and unconsciously continues to this day.
Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King knew that they would probably die at the hands of assassins, but this did not deter them from walking the talk everyday. And, as the film points out, not one of them lived to be 40 years old.
How many of you would risk your life for any cause? African-American leaders of every generation have not survived their generation.
And for those of you with the “I can’t get a hold of this film” excuse. I got a copy from a public library that serves a town of 800 residents. Interlibrary loan is alive and well nationally! It is also available through Amazon Prime and PBS on the show ‘Independent Lens.’