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James Baldwin

James Baldwin Quotes

James BaldwinJames Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic. Baldwin’s essays, as collected in Notes of a Native Son (1955), explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th-century America, and their inevitable if unnameable tensions. Some Baldwin essays are book-length, for instance The Fire Next Time (1963), No Name in the Street (1972), and The Devil Finds Work (1976).

1. LOVE DOES NOT BEGIN AND END THE WAY WE SEEM TO THINK IT DOES. LOVE IS A BATTLE, LOVE IS A WAR; LOVE IS A GROWING UP.

2. 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.

3. PEOPLE ARE TRAPPED IN HISTORY AND HISTORY IS TRAPPED IN THEM.

4. EDUCATION IS INDOCTRINATION IF YOU’RE WHITE – SUBJUGATION IF YOU’RE BLACK.

5. PEOPLE WHO TREAT OTHER PEOPLE AS LESS THAN HUMAN MUST NOT BE SURPRISED WHEN THE BREAD THEY HAVE CAST ON THE WATERS COMES FLOATING BACK TO THEM, POISONED.

6. THE MOST DANGEROUS CREATION OF ANY SOCIETY IS THE MAN WHO HAS NOTHING TO LOSE.

7. I LOVE AMERICA MORE THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY IN THIS WORLD, AND, EXACTLY FOR THIS REASON, I INSIST ON THE RIGHT TO CRITICIZE HER PERPETUALLY.

8. THOSE WHO SAY IT CAN’T BE DONE ARE USUALLY INTERRUPTED BY OTHERS DOING IT.

9. THE QUESTION OF SEXUAL DOMINANCE CAN EXIST ONLY IN THE NIGHTMARE OF THAT SOUL WHICH HAS ARMED ITSELF, TOTALLY, AGAINST THE POSSIBILITY OF THE CHANGING MOTION OF CONQUEST AND SURRENDER, WHICH IS LOVE.

10. TO BE A NEGRO IN THIS COUNTRY AND TO BE RELATIVELY CONSCIOUS IS TO BE IN A RAGE ALMOST ALL THE TIME.

11. IT IS VERY NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE… TO BECOME AN EDUCATED PERSON IN A COUNTRY SO DISTRUSTFUL OF THE INDEPENDENT MIND.

12. IT IS CERTAIN, IN ANY CASE, THAT IGNORANCE, ALLIED WITH POWER, IS THE MOST FEROCIOUS ENEMY JUSTICE CAN HAVE.

13. WHEN A MAN ASKS HIMSELF WHAT IS MEANT BY ACTION HE PROVES THAT HE ISN’T A MAN OF ACTION. ACTION IS A LACK OF BALANCE. IN ORDER TO ACT YOU MUST BE SOMEWHAT INSANE. A REASONABLY SENSIBLE MAN IS SATISFIED WITH THINKING.

14. THE PARADOX OF EDUCATION IS PRECISELY THIS – THAT AS ONE BEGINS TO BECOME CONSCIOUS ONE BEGINS TO EXAMINE THE SOCIETY IN WHICH HE IS BEING EDUCATED.

15. EVERYBODY’S JOURNEY IS INDIVIDUAL. IF YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH A BOY, YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH A BOY. THE FACT THAT MANY AMERICANS CONSIDER IT A DISEASE SAYS MORE ABOUT THEM THAN IT DOES ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY.

16. LOVE TAKES OFF MASKS THAT WE FEAR WE CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT AND KNOW WE CANNOT LIVE WITHIN.

17. CHILDREN HAVE NEVER BEEN VERY GOOD AT LISTENING TO THEIR ELDERS, BUT THEY HAVE NEVER FAILED TO IMITATE THEM.

18. FIRES CAN’T BE MADE WITH DEAD EMBERS, NOR CAN ENTHUSIASM BE STIRRED BY SPIRITLESS MEN. ENTHUSIASM IN OUR DAILY WORK LIGHTENS EFFORT AND TURNS EVEN LABOR INTO PLEASANT TASKS.

19. ANYONE WHO HAS EVER STRUGGLED WITH POVERTY KNOWS HOW EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE IT IS TO BE POOR.

20. I’VE ALWAYS BELIEVED THAT YOU CAN THINK POSITIVE JUST AS WELL AS YOU CAN THINK NEGATIVE.

21. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SET YOUR HEART UPON – FOR IT WILL SURELY BE YOURS.

22. MONEY, IT TURNED OUT, WAS EXACTLY LIKE SEX, YOU THOUGHT OF NOTHING ELSE IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE IT AND THOUGHT OF OTHER THINGS IF YOU DID.

23. IF THE RELATIONSHIP OF FATHER TO SON COULD REALLY BE REDUCED TO BIOLOGY, THE WHOLE EARTH WOULD BLAZE WITH THE GLORY OF FATHERS AND SONS.

24. WHEN ONE BEGINS TO LIVE BY HABIT AND BY QUOTATION, ONE HAS BEGUN TO STOP LIVING.

25. YOU KNOW, IT’S NOT THE WORLD THAT WAS MY OPPRESSOR, BECAUSE WHAT THE WORLD DOES TO YOU, IF THE WORLD DOES IT TO YOU LONG ENOUGH AND EFFECTIVELY ENOUGH, YOU BEGIN TO DO TO YOURSELF.

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