Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary
To compose his stunning documentary film I Am Not Your Negro, acclaimed filmmaker Raoul Peck mined James Baldwin’s published and unpublished oeuvre, selecting passages from his books, essays, letters, notes, and interviews that are every bit as incisive and pertinent now as they have ever been. Weaving these texts together, Peck brilliantly imagines the book that Baldwin never wrote. In his final years, Baldwin had envisioned a book about his three assassinated friends, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. His deeply personal notes for the project have never been published before. Peck’s film uses them to jump through time, juxtaposing Baldwin’s private words with his public statements, in a blazing examination of the tragic history of race in America.
This edition contains more than 40 black-and-white images from the film.
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
JAMES BALDWIN (1924–1987) was a novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, social critic, and the author of more than twenty books. His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, appeared in 1953 to excellent reviews, and his essay collections Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time were bestsellers that made him an influential figure in the civil rights movement. Baldwin spent many years in France, where he moved to escape the racism and homophobia of the United States. He died in 1987.
RAOUL PECK is a filmmaker acclaimed for his historical, political, and artistic work. Haitian-born, he grew up in Congo, France, Germany, and the United States. His body of work includes the films The Man by the Shore (Competition, Cannes 1993); Lumumba (Cannes 2000, HBO); and Sometimes in April (2005, HBO). He is currently chairman of the French national film school, La Fémis, and recently completed his next feature film, The Young Karl Marx (2017).
Date of Birth:August 2, 1924
Date of Death:December 1, 1987
Place of Birth:New York, New York
Place of Death:St. Paul de Vence, France
Education:DeWitt Clinton High School, New York City
Read an Excerpt
As concerns Malcolm and Martin,
I watched two men, coming from unimaginably different backgrounds,
whose positions, originally, were poles apart,
driven closer and closer together.
By the time each died, their positions had become virtually the same position.
It can be said, indeed, that Martin picked up Malcolm’s burden,
articulated the vision which Malcolm had begun to see,
and for which he paid with his life.
And that Malcolm was one of the people Martin saw on the mountaintop.
Medgar was too young to have seen this happen,though he hoped for it, and would not have been surprised;
but Medgar was murdered first.
I was older than Medgar, Malcolm, and Martin.
I was raised to believe that the eldest was supposed to be a model for the younger,
and was, of course, expected to die first.
Not one of these three lived to be forty.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I Am Not Your Negro is a book about the racist culture of America with some detail on how it got that way. The title helps explain the whole point of the book: I Am Not Your Negro seems to be a response to racists who, Baldwin believes, created the N-word to justify the lives of Europeans who first felt captive in a foreign land called America, and therefore chose to become white to make sense of their reality (pp. 55). By “choosing to be white,” Baldwin means ‘race’ became a convenient way for early Americans to separate people from one another and to solidify their power and authority over other groups. Since then, America has evolved into a culture of people who either staunchly refuse or blissfully ignore this fact of life (i.e., that racism helps avoid the realities of living with Black people) and would otherwise prefer a fantasy world, one of simplicity, where Blacks would readily cooperate with whites. So, the title was probably supposed to read I Am Not Your N-word—I will not be your excuse to justify your fear to deal with me, a Black person—I, your brother or sister whom you neglected for so long. We are part of the same family. Baldwin uses his interactions with Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. to support his main point in an interesting way. He refers to these men not so much as to write a biographical piece of each man’s life as one might think. He uses them (their goals and intimate connections to him) to therapeutically(?) help him reevaluate the past, present, and future of America and its Black population. Through this “journey” as he called it, Baldwin interrogates and exposes this American culture for what it truly is: a fantasy in which entertainers, scholars, even educators are complicit in fostering the innocence of white people. So, was he persuasive?—which is an odd question to ask about such a historic figure and whose social criticisms of American society are readily accepted by many. Well, persuasive he was! He offered intelligent arguments and vivid descriptions of people who struggle with the “race problem.” He deconstructed familiar American stories and themes to reveal a racist agenda. Moreover, his arguments can be supported by countless deconstructionist scholars who have emerged since his passing in 1987. But my question of persuasiveness has merit because I Am Not Your Negro was based on the unfinished writings of James Baldwin. It is very possible that Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck and his team who compiled Baldwin’s notes, letters, and correspondents into a coherent manuscript could have killed the great author’s argument—which in the end may not have been Baldwin’s intended argument of his unfinished book originally titled Remember This House. As Peck explained from the start, he “hope not to have betrayed the man who accompanied [him] from very early on, every day of [his] life.” Peck reassures the audience that the words they read are in fact those of the great social critic. He made the slightest of changes to Baldwin’s words, corrections to people’s names for instance. Peck’s selection of illustrations in the book support Baldwin’s ideas and adds to the coherence of his arguments. However, the book lacks in one regard. There is no expressed language about how to read this book. It should be clear that I Am Not Your Negro is a book version of the major motion picture. I am led to believe that this is the script version of the film, but it doesn’t read like one. There are no s
This book is important. As is the movie. I watched the movie and read along with the book which I would recommend to all by the way. It interesting to read something in your voice because you can interpret things in different ways and then to hear how its being said, to look at the images and video while reading and listening puts things to perspective. I am not your negro. Not then. Not today. Amazing complemantary book to the movie and definitely a great book to add to your coffee table.
Must read for our times.
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