Posted Sunday evening, February 19, 2017.
Saw I Am Not Your Negro this afternoon, and now I have a rooting interest in the Oscar for Best Documentary. In fact, if I Am Not Your Negro doesn’t win I’m going to be almost as mad as I know I’m going to be when Emma Stone beats out Natalie Portman for Best Actress.
All the words of the film’s narration are Baldwin’s. This passage from Baldwin’s book-length essay The Devil Finds Work isn’t, that I recall, included but it gives the flavor of what is:
The wretched of the earth do not decide to become extinct, they resolve, on the contrary, to multiply: life is their only weapon against life, life is all they have. This is why the dispossessed and the starving will never be convinced (though some may be coerced) by the population-control programs of the civilized. I have watched the starving and the dispossessed laboring in the fields which others own, with their transistor radios at their ear, all day long: so they learn, for example, along with equally weighty matters, that the Pope, one of the heads of the civilized that abortion which is being, literally, forced on them, the wretched. The civilized have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children wherever and whenever their “vital interests” are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death: these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the “sanctity” of human life, or the “conscience” of the civilized world. There is a “sanctity” involved with bringing a child into this world: it is better than bombing one out of it. Dreadful indeed is it to see a starving child, but the answer to that is not to prevent that child’s arrival but to restructure the world so the child can live in it: so that the “vital interest” of the world becomes nothing less than the life of the child.