Last Sunday (19th March) BlackOut hosted a screening and Q&A of I’m Not Your Negro at the Ritzy Cinema. The powerful conversations that followed affirmed the contemporary relevance and impact of James Baldwin’s words and ideas. 1st December this year will mark 30 years since the writer and activist’s passing. Watch this space for more information about BlackOutUK sponsored events as we will be #reclaimingjimmy throughout this year.
“You gave me a language to dwell in, a gift so perfect it seems my own invention.” Toni Morrison at James Baldwin’s funeral
With renewed interest in Baldwin, particularly within the context of liberation movements across the western world where Black people are demanding to be recognised as Black, we are being urged by celebrities to Know Your Baldwin.
However, we were disappointed when we saw the campaign led by Samuel L. Jackson and Lupita Nyong’o, that included Ashton Sanders (of Moonlight fame) and others. In the first half of the short video, each personality articulated what they are not; ‘I’m Not Your Negro; I’m Not Your Thug; I’m Not Your Servant; I’m Not Your Noble Savage; I’m Not Your Moving Target etc.’ While applauding this powerful expression, and its challenge to stereotypes endured by Black people; one should quickly recognise that which was not articulated as none of the famous faces appear to be LGBTQI. I say appear because who the hell knows! In the second half of the video the famous listed what they were; a man; a son; a brother; a chief; a wife; a revolutionary; an artist; an ally; a student; a friend; a mentor: you get the point. In urging the viewer to Know Your Baldwin, famous faces identified just about every possible embodiment of humanity and yet one relevant personification was missing for none of them said I am a homosexual or I am Queer. In the face of this erasure Baldwin’s words ring loud:
“We can disagree and still love each other. Unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and my right to exist. Not everything that is faced can be changed but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
We must be vigilant so as not to be erased! BlackOutUK encourages you to Know Your Baldwin for he speaks For Us and About Us and provides evidence of our existence not only as Black people but as Black Queer people: a Black Queer who was as unapologetically homosexual as he was unapologetically Black!
BlackOutUK will be #reclaimingjimmy all year. Join the conversation here and on our BlackOutUK social media platforms.
It is clear that you are interested in Baldwin as tickets for last week’s screening sold out well in advance. In response we are pleased to announce another screening and discussion for those who missed out (and those who want more). Join the conversation at our next BlackOutUK Screening of I’m Not Your Negro with Q&A on Friday 28 April at 7:30 pm in Tottenham as part of The Bernie Grant Arts Centre season of work featuring Baldwin that runs from 21 April – 23rd June. The season includes screenings of British director, Horace Ove’s Baldwin’s Nigger from 1969, and Raoul Peck’s I’m Not Your Negro.
“All I knew or had learned through instinct or through experience Baldwin gave a name to and a shape.” Raoul Peck, Director – I’m Not Your Negro