Watched this film last year, and I am in total awe of James Baldwin’s clarity, insight, and articulateness.
“I have always been struck in America by an emotional poverty so bottomless and a terror of human life, of human touch, so deep that virtually no American appears able to achieve any viable organic connection between his public stance and his private life. The failure of the private life has always had the most devastating effect on American public conduct and on black-white relations. If Americans were not so terrified of their private self, it would never have become so dependent on what they call ‘the n**** problem’.”
“What white people have to do is try and find out in their own hearts why it is necessary to have a ‘n*****’ in the first place, because I’m not a n*****. I’m a man. If I’m not the n***** here, and if you invented him, you the white people invented him, then you have to find out why. And the future of the country depends on that. Whether or not it is able to ask that question.”
(To me, this speaks of a kind of “fractured self.” When you feel broken on the inside, or you have a deep sense of conflict between who you are (or perceive yourself to be) and how you present to the world, and/or you experience a kind of disgust/hate toward yourself that you are unable to accept or contain, and you have little understanding on how to digest or neutralize this experience… all of that is close to spilling on to the outside, and now you need to find an object/recipient for that emotion.)
(Each one of us needs to find objects for the negativity within. We have to offload it someplace else, or we’d suffocate and die.)
(I love this title because what it signifies to me is Baldwin’s refusal to be anyone’s N****. No, I refuse to be the recipient of your angst and self-hate and dread and demons. They are yours to deal with, not mine to carry.)