Equity Task Force Member Pat Collins shares, “Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s in the white bubble of a small midwestern town, I was aware from a distance of the events and images presented in the film, “I Am Not Your Negro.” In the film, the writer James Baldwin discusses the history of race in America through the events surrounding the lives of three friends killed for their outspoken positions during the 60’s Civil Rights Movement, the stark reality of this history which is (now as then) a gaping wound in the body of the United States. There is footage of Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and the aftermaths of their assassinations. Baldwin calls himself a witness, not an actor, in the Movement. As a witness, he does not let white people off the hook for apathy displayed towards inequality in America or the demeaning and demoralizing treatment of blacks in order to create a white America of fantasy, as enacted by the 50’s film icons like Doris Day or Cary Grant.
A teenage neighbor of mine said after learning about the history, it made her hate white people. I know what she means and feel deeply ashamed. The film is moving and gut wrenching, but worth watching to relive history that is often tucked away in the past despite being mirrored in our most current events. In addressing the future of America, Baldwin leaves us with a challenge, ‘Why do white people need a n******?’ and says that facing this question is the only way America will begin to heal.”
-Pat Collins, a Tangletown resident for over two decades.
The film is streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime.