Thursday 20 April 2017

I Am Not Your Negro

Finding meaning in the dark
At the Easter weekend, my friend of 33 years visited and for the three nights that he stayed over we had a social event of sorts which included watching films and having dinner.
Of the films that we watched, I was seeing Moonlight for the second time and I Am Not Your Negro for the first time. On Moonlight, which was a coming of age story dealing with drugs, addiction, relationships and sexuality, there was another element of bullying that I thought I should write about, but that piece has not been conceived yet.
When I did first watch Moonlight, I wrote a blog which not so much a review of the film itself but a reflection of how addiction regardless of the substance or activity does have the same destructive effects on all directly and remotely attached to the said addict. The blog is referenced below:
A fake quote with sentiments
Now, almost four years ago, I wrote another blog that has garnered over 20,000 page views, I was surprised when just a few days ago, there was a sudden surge in readership that added another 2.700 page views to the blog in a week.
Apparently, the subject of the blog is making the rounds again, a case of Internet Apocrypha, a quote contrived by someone and attributed to a historical figure which then cast as genuine.
With this new activity came a new comment, there have been many comments, many objective, some subjective and others just downright nasty.
I bit my tongue
This new comment that came from Fausto who is probably French going from his other comments on other forums failed to address the topic I blogged about. He started by damning with praise by calling me a ‘Smart Man’, before belittling the context of the blog and then suggesting that I should embark on another scholarly activity which I excerpt and quote below. All grammatical errors left in the text.
I suggest you spend even more time and your wisdom sir to find out what atrocities were caused to the African continent by the British You owe that to your own kind sir. as black man regardless of your motive you cannot be the devil advocate of the devil.” [Link]
Now, I do have stringent commenting rules on my blog, that might be the reason why I rarely receive that many comments on the blog itself, but I do find engagement on Twitter and Facebook though links to my blogs posted therein.
The audacity of a cretin
Much as I can be quite tolerant of people, there are times when odium and the purveyors of it need to be put in their place. For a stranger to come to my blog, my own personal space to dictate what I opine about is disrespectful, abusive and smacks of the audacity of a cretin.
Then to use the phrase, “You owe that to your own kind, sir, as black man.” Should have me spitting tacks before I descend into acrimonious verbiage eviscerating every notion of his being until it shrinks into completely forgettable ignominy, but I was kind.
In context of sorts
To digress, the second film, I Am Not Your Negro was a construct of the unfinished work of James Baldwin who died 30 years ago and it was a documentation of the history of the African-American Civil Rights Movement through the lives and assassinations of three friends,  Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr.
All of them died in their late 30s leaving young families, James Baldwin compared and contrasted the men, talking about his relationship with each of them and articulating the causes of the Negro as African Americans were called in then in his [published writings and debates around Europe.
I left the showing of the film with a sense that James Baldwin had a compelling mastery of words and communication that people wanted to hear what he had to say whilst the FBI sought to denigrate him for his homosexuality.
Why it matters
Yet, I cannot properly review the film here, only suggest that any opportunity to view the film would provide a teachable moment on the civil rights movement.
As we left the cinema, we discussed the issues of identity, of privilege, of demonstrations and causes and how that affects who we are today.
As the thoughts about the film percolated in my mind for days, the comment left by Fausto seemed to crystallise into what I wrote below, to inform my interlocutor that my wiliness to engage does not confer the right to dictate how I should think, what I should write about, where I should express opinions, what my identity is and how I should express my own thoughts.
To encroach is to invade my territory, disrespect my person and arrogate upon himself an entitlement he could never earn which much be contemned completely, and so my response.
I Am Not Your Negro
The purpose of this blog was to debunk false material being circulated as fact which came within my social media space almost 4 years ago.
Now, I have no idea what the purpose of your comment is apart from attempting to serve as a distraction from that primary aim.
If you had bothered to check other details about me, you would realise that I am both an Englishman by birth and a Nigerian by heritage. If anyone had posted an inversion of the truth about slavery into my social media space, I would have performed the same activity of taking the time to address it as I addressed this matter.
Now, if you have an opinion about what I have written, I would expect you to state those views rather than attempt to project some inferiority complex upon my person.
I am aware of the many atrocities of the British in their colonial fiefdoms and I also have to bear the burden of the fact that I cannot divorce myself from the shared identity of being both British and African.
What I would not do is repudiate one for another to satisfy a victim complex, I am a black man of great privilege and I would not deny who I am.
In the spirit of the recent documentary about civil rights in America, may I clearly state to you without equivocation - "I am not your negro."

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