Interview: Raoul Peck on ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ & James Baldwin

In such troubled times as our current moment, where Western society seems doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past by stalling or demolishing progress in various forms, it is important to take heed of the words of those whose commentary has only become more relevant with time.

The late James Baldwin was an American novelist, playwright, essayist, political activist and social critic, best known for his articulations of the unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual and class tensions in Western societies. Being both black and gay gave Baldwin an insight into very specific experiences, but Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck, himself a political activist, believes that Baldwin’s words resonate beyond race and sexuality.

“Baldwin is, at core, a humanist,” says Peck. “He’s speaking to you; he’s not speaking to you as white, yellow or whatever. He’s speaking to you as a human being, because that’s who he is at the core. He doesn’t judge, but he tells you what he has to tell you. You don’t feel insulted, you just take it. He’s like your priest talking to you and telling you a very hard thing, and you do listen to him because he’s credible, he’s respectful. So it’s hard to get away; it’s hard to find excuses because he’s so convincing. And people do listen”…

Full interview for The Skinny

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