James Baldwin Quotes
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It is a great shock at the age of 5 or 6 to find that in a world of Gary Coopers you are the Indian.
The South is very beautiful but its beauty makes one sad because the lives that people live here, and have lived here, are so ugly.
The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.
We have all had the experience of finding that our reactions and perhaps even our deeds have denied beliefs we thought were ours.
People always seem to band together in accordance to a principle that has nothing to do with love, a principle that releases them from personal responsibility. (p. 81)
The power to define the other seals one's definition of oneself.
We held each other so close that we might indeed have been one body.
Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch.
Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but, most of all, endurance.
But the relationship of morality and power is a very subtle one. Because ultimately power without morality is no longer power.
This world is white no longer and it will never be white again.
All art is a kind of confession more or less oblique. All artists if they are to survive are forced at last to tell the whole story to vomit the anguish up.
If you know from whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations on where you can go.
I met a lot of people in Europe. I even encountered myself.
You know and I know that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too early. We cannot be free until they are free.
Ain't no such thing as a little fault or a big fault. Satan get his foot in the door, he ain't going to rest till he's in the room. You is in the Word or you ain't--ain't no halfway with God.
You can not describe anything without betraying your point of view, your aspirations, your fears, your hopes. Everything.
And here I was, left with only myself to deal with. It was entirely up to me.
I do a lot of rewriting. It’s very painful.
Education is indoctrination if you're white - subjugation if you're black.
...all the fears with which I had grown up, and which were now a part of me and controlled my vision of the world, rose up like a wall between the world and me...
We live in a nation of pigs and murderers.
...they ain't never met nobody they didn't lie to and steal from.
Sin is the only heritage of the natural man...
Experience which destroys innocence also leads one back to it.
I can't be a pessimist because I'm alive. To be a pessimist means that you have agreed that human life is an academic matter.
Children have never been very good at listening to their elders but they have never failed to imitate them.
We take our shape it is true within and against that cage of reality bequeathed us at our birth and yet it is precisely through our dependence on this reality that we are most endlessly betrayed.
An identity would seem to be arrived at by the way in which the person faces and uses his experience.
A civilization is not destroyed by wicked people it is not necessary that people be wicked but only that they be spineless.
All that hatred down there, " he said, "all that hatred and misery and love. It's a wonder it doesn't blow the avenue apart.
This is the only real concern of the artist, to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art.
The way to be really despicable is to be contemptuous of other people's pain.
You read something which you thought only happened to you, and you discovered it happened 100 years ago to Dostoyevsky.
The first love disappears, but never goes. That ache becomes reconciliation.
Anyway, I have long had a very definite tendency to tune out the moment I come anywhere near either a pulpit or a soapbox.
People are too various to be treated so lightly. I am too various to be trusted.
It demands great spiritual resilience not to hate the hater whose foot is on your neck, and an even greater miracle of perception and charity not to teach your child to hate.
Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.
It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I’d been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.
I don’t know any writers who don’t drink.
He wanted to go home and lock his door and sleep. He was tired of the troubles of real people. He wanted to get back to the people he was inventing, whose troubles he could bear.
A real decision makes one humble, one knows that it is at the mercy of more things that can be named.
Precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience you must find yourself at war with your society.
It is very nearly impossible to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.
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.
Terrifying, that the loss of intimacy with one person results in the freezing over of the world, and the loss of oneself.
We do not trust educated people and rarely, alas, produce them, for we do not trust the independence of mind which alone makes a genuine education possible.
We cannot escape our origins, however hard we try, those origins which contain the key -could we but find it- to all we later become
The question of identity is a question involving the most profound panic—a terror as primary as the nightmare of the mortal fall.