CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.
Film Review: 2017 Best Doc Oscar Nominee ‘I Am Not Your Negro’
CHICAGO – The terms that have been used to describe African Americans over the years …black, afro-americans, negro and worse… has always been what others had named them, the others that wanted to marginalize, categorize and group individuals into images of words. The documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” seeks to upend these generalizations and in turn, those words.
In an extraordinarily way into “those who deny the past are condemned to repeat it,” filmmaker Raoul Peck frames a historical piece of writing by author James Baldwin into the counter intuitiveness of race relations today. The film evokes a bit of sadness, because in 2017 there should be less divisiveness between black, white and other shades than when Baldwin plotted his literary vision in 1979, which itself was 16 years after the “I Have a Dream” speech. But in acknowledging this vital voice across time, we can realize that the evolutionary process of these relations are too slow, and our fellow citizens are too willing to demur to the racism and bigotry that is years beyond its expiration date.
In 1979, the prodigious African American author James Baldwin (“Go Tell it On the Mountain”) wrote a letter to his publisher, describing his next project, “Remember This House.” It was to be a tribute and social overview of three friends – Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. All three were different types of African American leaders, all three were murdered by gunfire.
Director Raoul Peck has taken this unfinished material, the contents of the letter and the 30 pages of the unfinished book (Baldwin died in 1987), and gives them context and life. Using the imagery of Baldwin’s lifetime, including the author’s appearances on various talk shows, plus the grainy black & white rerun of 1960s news footage and special reports (“The Negro and The American Promise”), Peck creates an “everything old is new again” thesis.
James Baldwin (in sunglasses) is the Voice of ‘I Am Not Your Negro’
Photo credit: Magnolia Pictures