Out of print for more than 30 years, now available for the first time as an eBook, this is the controversial story of John Wooden's first 25 years and first 8 NCAA Championships as UCLA Head Basketball Coach. This is the only book that gives a true picture of the character of John Wooden and the influence of his assistant, Jerry Norman, whose contributions Wooden  ignored and tried to bury.

Compiled with more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach. The players tell their stories in their own words.

Click the book to read the first chapter and for ordering information. Also available on Kindle.

I Am Not Your Negro (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 93 minutes.

This is James Baldwin, an angry black man ranting and raving and revising history to fit his narrow concepts of how he would like people to view the world. His view is so glaringly dishonest it can only be properly reviewed by quoting from him. He hoists himself on his own petard.

Later in the film on a clip from the Dick Cavett show, after making all these generalizations, Baldwin admits that he doesn’t know how white people feel, which seems to render all that he has said before, all the conclusions he has drawn and states as fact, as meaningless.

Baldwin characterizes American whites as “the vast, heedless, unthinking, cruel white majority…I’m terrified at the moral apathy, the death of the heart, which is happening in my country. These people have deluded themselves for so long that they do not think that I am human. I base this on their conduct and not what they say. And that means that they themselves are moral monsters.

“A black man who sees the world, for example, as John Wayne sees it would not be an eccentric patriot, but a raving maniac. The truth is that this country does not know what to do with its black population, dreaming if anything like the Final Solution.

“I’ve 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 capable to achieve any viable organic connection between its emotional stance and his private life. This 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 selves it would never have become so dependent on what they call the Negro problem. This problem, which they invented in order to save their purity, made of them criminals and monsters and it is destroying them. And this, not from anything blacks may or may not be doing, but because of the role of a guilty and constricted white imagination as a sign to the Blacks.”

The paragraph above is spoken over a film clip of a movie where Richard Widmark is brutalizing Sidney Poitier in “No Way Out” (1950) and followed up by director Raoul Peck, who is a political activist and was the Haiti Minister of Culture, with clips from other movies about blacks and whites. Baldwin goes on to talk about mixed relationships between black men and white women (he ignores black women with white men) and blames all the negativity on white people.

Peck shows clips of the nonsense that goes on on the Jerry Springer show, a show that showcases weirdos, to generalize about American culture.

Baldwin goes on to add generalization upon generalization to give his biased slant on everything, in accordance with the incendiary rantings quoted above. Peck uses lots of archival films of Baldwin speaking himself, and he was an eloquent speaker that gives much more impact to his ideas than they deserve. Other words written by Baldwin are spoken by Samuel L. Jackson with much less effect.

Peck closes by showing Baldwin saying, “In this country for a dangerously long time there have been two levels of experience one, to put it cruelly, is summed up in the images of Gary Cooper and Doris Day, two of the most grotesque appeals to innocence the world has ever seen; and the other, subterranean and dispensable and denied can be summed up in the tone and in the face of Ray Charles and there has never been any genuine confrontation between these two levels of experience.” Peck then segues from a picture of a Technicolor beautiful Doris Day singing a song to black and white stills of black women hanging from trees after being lynched.

Peck’s editing of various Hollywood films into the narrative is reminiscent of Joseph Goebbels (Nazi Minister of Propaganda) and Leni Riefenstahl, intending to incite racial hatred with little or no interest in truth or context. In the end, this film is a racist polemic using the words of an angry black sophist to disparage and impugn white Americans.

Here's a response to this review from one reader:

Scratch another one from my "must see" list. Your characterization of Baldwin as, "an angry black sophist", seems much too charitable. No doubt he was talented but the guy was really a hate-filled psychotic. Baldwin philosophical wisdom:

“All racist positions baffle and appall me. None of us is that different from one another, neither that much better nor that much worse. Furthermore, when one takes a position one must attempt to see where that position inexorably leads. One must ask oneself, if one decides that black or white or Jewish people are, by definition, to be despised, is one willing to murder a black or white or Jewish baby: for that is where the position leads. It does? And if one blames the Jew for having become a white American, one may perfectly well, if one is black be speaking out of nothing more than envy.” How insightful...

Being homosexual and anti-American made him a perfect fit into the French literary world. Other blacks were less impressed. After a TV appearance with Baldwin, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was secretly recorded by the F.B.I. saying that he was, “put off by the poetic exaggeration in Baldwin’s approach to race issues.” Author Ralph Ellison wrote to a counterpart, that, "he [Baldwin] doesn’t know the difference between getting religion and going homo.” Harold Cruse, a scholar of black intellectual history wrote: “Within the frame of superficial social insights, Baldwin’s literary skills have seduced many people to accept as profound a message that was, from the first, rather thin, confused and impressionistic.” Eldridge Cleaver's "Soul On Ice" assessment was even more dismissively harsh as he disavowed his initial admiration for, “the cover and camouflage of the perfumed smoke screen of his prose”, and called him a "jive ass".

 Since he's been dead for almost 30 years though the relevance of his racial vitriol escapes me. In any case aside from financial considerations, I'm still trying to figure out why anyone would want this rancid little man to be their, "Negro". 

 His words: "I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain."

In Baldwin's case he clung to his "hate" because it was a part of his "schtick", and he knew that if he let it go, he would be forced to deal with reality. If he was still with us, that would be the painful "reality" of what 50 years of solicitous attention by the Democrat Party, as well as "black leaders" and icons like James Baldwin, have done to black faith, family, and community. 

 Jim McCaffrey