I don’t particularly enjoy the feelings of resentment, bitterness and anger that pass through me when I watch movies that highlight all of the wrongdoings that had happened and still happen within the Black community in the United States and my home country of Canada (yes, it happens here, contrary to popular belief). James Baldwin; I hadn’t been familiar with in my life for a long time, but having read The Fire Next Time and a Last Interviews book on him, I respected his voice and all of the thoughts in his brain when it came with telling the story of the Black experience, and this was well before I was born. He died in ’87, I was born in ’89. But his words still hit and remain relevant which is the saddest truth to digest.
After watching this amazing documentary at TIFF Bell Lightbox, followed by an equally powerful and gripping conversation with an incredible panel, I was left with a feeling that had to sit with me for at least 24 hours. It didn’t help that I had to go into work the next day where I was forced to look at white faces for the whole day. To quote my lovely friend (and awesome writer) Sajae, “I don’t hate White people, I hate White supremacy,” and to walk in an establishment that is run by White people, and to be in a Department where I’m the only Black person, yes, the day after was not the most ideal to put on a face and act like everything was okay. It’s a lot to go through when you know some of the history of oppression, but it doesn’t define who I am or where I want to go in life. It’s a lot to see images of brutal violence on Black bodies, and a gentleman at the discussion made a good point in saying that it’s tiresome seeing it and really for whose consumption is it with the overdoing of the images. The truth is, this happened, and we’re still feeling the effects. But it’s not up to us to make things better or try to ‘end racism.’ Baldwin was making notes, through the example of his personal stories, that in various ways, White people had created this imaginary narrative that Black people and other people of colour were to blame for their problems. They created the “nigger” and have continually given themselves reasons to continue with their ignorance, simply disguised as immaturity. There is so much in this film that I can’t even do it service by trying to dissect points from one watch. I’d need another one or two, but I would definitely need a break of about a week in-between.
You have to watch this documentary. You have to read James Baldwin’s work, and you have to be able to face yourself (if you’re white) with the conversation that your Black counterparts have been trying to have for so long. Listen, learn, and use your position of privilege to help those who need it. There’s so much within it, but watching this would be a start. But for now, this is my opinion, this is my review
That’s My Word & It STiXX