Friday, March 3, 2017

"I Am Not Your Negro"

"I Am Not Your Negro" hits you in much the same way James Baldwin's prose hits you: square in the eye and then hard to the gut.  I'm struck, over and again, by Baldwin's insistence that America doesn't have a 'negro problem' or a 'racial problem'--but a human problem and a moral problem.  As the film unfolds, we see Ferguson and Cleveland and Oakland.  We see Watts in the 60s.  We see Rodney King in the street, kicked and beaten, and Malcolm X and Martin King and Medger Evers in coffins.  The question we must ask (and there's no way around it) isn't about how to integrate or how to tolerate.  It's: "Will we come to grips with the blood in our soil?"  All of it.  Or: "Will we find our American soul...and live with the moral consequences?"  Across the decades since his death, James Baldwin insists that the fate of America lies in our courage in asking.