James A Baldwin Quotes & Wallpapers

James A Baldwin
Total Quotes: 397

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. James A Baldwin

Not only was I not born to be a slave; I was not born to hope to become the equal of the slave master. James A Baldwin

The miracle is that some have stepped out of the rags of the Republic's definition to assume the great burden and glory of their humanity and their responsibility for one another. It is an extraordinary achievement to be trapped in the dungeon of color and to dare to shake down its walls and to step out of it leaving the jailkeeper in the rubble. James A Baldwin

The trick is to love somebody.... If you love one person, you see everybody else differently. James A Baldwin

If one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country, one does not question the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, or the protected members of the middle class. One goes to the unprotected - those, precisely, who need the law's protection most! - and listens to their testimony. James A Baldwin

One cannot deny the humanity of another without diminishing one's own. James A Baldwin

Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety. And at such a moment, unable to see and not daring to imagine what the future will now bring forth, one clings to what one knew, or dreamed that one possessed. Yet, it is only when a man is able, without bitterness or self-pity, to surrender a dream he has long possessed that he is set free - he has set himself free - for higher dreams, for greater privileges. James A Baldwin

Yet I also suspected that what I was seeing was but a part of the truth and perhaps not even the most important part; beneath these faces, these clothes, accents, rudenesses, was power and sorrow, both unadmitted, unrealized, the power of inventors, the sorrow of the disconnected. James A Baldwin

Recognizing a problem doesn't always bring a solution, but until we recognize that problem, there can be no solution. James A Baldwin

You have to decide who you are and force the world to deal with you, not with its idea of you. James A Baldwin

The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers. James A Baldwin

God be thanked for books! They are the voices of the distant and the dead. James A Baldwin

For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out. James A Baldwin

Americans should never come to Europe,' she said, and tried to laugh and began to cry, 'it means they never can be happy again. What's the good of an American who isn't happy? Happiness was all we had. James A Baldwin

Sentimentality , the ostentatious parading of excessive and spurious emotion, is the mark of dishonesty, the inability to feel. James A Baldwin

... every human being is an unprecedented miracle. James A Baldwin

One writes out of one thing only-one's own experience, James A Baldwin

Fonny and I just sat there... while the voices of the congregation rose and rose around us, without mercy... Teddy had the tambourine, and gave the cue to the piano player-I never got to know him: a long dark, evil-looking brother, with hands made for strangling; and with these hands he attacked the keyboard like he was beating the brains out of someone he remembered. No doubt the congregation had their memories, too, and they went to pieces. The church began to rock. James A Baldwin

It was as though we were a picture, trapped in time: this had been happening for hundreds of years, people sitting in a room, waiting for dinner, and listening to the blues. James A Baldwin

A society must assume that it is stable, but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven. James A Baldwin

Unless a writer is extremely old when he dies, in which case he has probably become a neglected institution, his death must always be seen as untimely. This is because a real writer is always shifting and changing and searching. The world has many labels for him, of which the most treacherous is the label of Success. James A Baldwin

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. James A Baldwin

I thought of the people before me who had looked down at the river and gone to sleep beneath it. I wondered about them. I wondered how they had done it-it, the physical act. I simply wondered about the dead because their days had ended and I did not know how I would get through mine. James A Baldwin

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. James A Baldwin

There are too many things we do not wish to know about ourselves. People are not, for example, terribly anxious to be equal (equal, after all, to what and to whom?) but they love the idea of being superior. James A Baldwin

It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive. James A Baldwin

In order to have a conversation with someone you must reveal yourself. James A Baldwin

The real victim of bigotry is the white man who hides his weakness under his myth of superiority. James A Baldwin

Society is held together by our need; we bind it together with legend, myth, coercion, fearing that without it we will be hurled into that void, within which, like the earth before the Word was spoken, the foundations of society are hidden. James A Baldwin

What passes for identity in America is a series of myths about one's heroic ancestors. It's astounding to me, for example, that so many people really seem to believe that the country was founded by a band of heroes who wanted to be free. James A Baldwin

An identity is questioned only when it is menaced, as when the mighty begin to fall, or when the wretched begin to rise, or when the stranger enters the gates, never, thereafter, to be a stranger. James A Baldwin

Women manage, quite brilliantly, on the whole, and to stunning and unforeseeable effect, to survive and surmount being defined by others. They dismiss the definition, however dangerous or wounding it may be- or even, sometimes, find a way to utilize it. James A Baldwin

All of us know, whether or not we are able to admit it, that mirrors can only lie, that death by drowning is all that awaits one there. It is for this reason that love is so desperately sought and so cunningly avoided. Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. James A Baldwin

Everyone wishes to be loved, but in the event, nearly no one can bear it. Everyone desires love but also finds it impossible to believe that he deserves it. James A Baldwin

I'm not interested in anybody's guilt. Guilt is a luxury that we can no longer afford. I know you didn't do it, and I didn't do it either, but I am responsible for it because I am a man and a citizen of this country and you are responsible for it, too, for the very same reason... Anyone who is trying to be conscious must begin to dismiss the vocabulary which we've used so long to cover it up, to lie about the way things are. James A Baldwin

If you really want to know something about solitude, become famous. James A Baldwin

You don't need numbers; you need passion, and this is proven by the history of the world! James A Baldwin

Life is more important than art; that's what makes art important. James A Baldwin

Even the most incorrigible maverick has to be born somewhere. He may leave the group that produced him-he may be forced to-but nothing will efface his origins, the marks of which he carries with him everywhere. I think it is important to know this and even find it a matter for rejoicing, as the strongest people do, regardless of their station. On this acceptance, literally, the life of a writer depends. James A Baldwin

The occurrence of an event is not the same thing as knowing what it is that one has lived through. James A Baldwin

I had never before thought of how awful the relationship must be between the musician and his instrument. He has to fill it, this instrument, with the breath of life, his own. He has to make it do what he wants it to do. And a piano is just a piano. It's made out of so much wood and wires and little hammers and big ones, and ivory. While there's only so much you can do with it, the only way to find this out is to try; to try and make it do everything. James A Baldwin

You do' have a home until you leave it and then, when you have left it, you never can go back. James A Baldwin

The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you do' see. James A Baldwin

But it was not the room's disorder which was frightening; it was the fact that when one began searching for the key to this disorder, one realized that it was not to be found in any of the usual places. For this was not a matter of habit or circumstance or temperament; it was a matter of punishment and grief. James A Baldwin

We can make America what America must become. James A Baldwin

The establishment of democracy on the American continent was scarcely as radical a break with the past as was the necessity, which Americans faced, of broadening this concept to include black men. James A Baldwin

Europe has what we [Americans] do not have yet, a sense of the mysterious and inexorable limits of life, a sense, in a word, of tragedy. And we have what they sorely need: a sense of life's possibilities. James A Baldwin

An American Negro, however deep his sympathies, or however bright his rage, ceases to be simply a black man when he faces a black man from Africa. James A Baldwin

Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give. James A Baldwin

I think white gay people feel cheated because they were born, in principle, in a society in which they were supposed to be safe. The anomaly of their sexuality puts them in danger, unexpectedly. James A Baldwin

All over Harlem, Negro boys and girls are growing into stunted maturity, trying desperately to find a place to stand; and the wonder is not that so many are ruined but that so many survive. James A Baldwin

A liberal: someone who thinks he knows more about your experience than you do. James A Baldwin

The responsibility of a writer is to excavate the experience of the people who produced him. James A Baldwin

Hatred is always self hatred, and there is something suicidal about it. James A Baldwin

It is dangerous to be an American Negro male. America has never wanted its Negroes to be men, and does not, generally, treat them as men. It treats them as mascots, pets, or things. James A Baldwin

People are continually pointing out to me the wretchedness of white people in order to console me for the wretchedness of blacks. But an itemized account of the American failure does not console me and it should not console anyone else. That hundreds of thousands of white people are living, in effect, no better than the "niggers" is not a fact to be regarded with complacency. The social and moral bankruptcy suggested by this fact is of the bitterest, most terrifying kind. James A Baldwin

If I am not what you say I am, then you are not who you think you are. James A Baldwin

No one knows very much about the life of another. This ignorance becomes vivid, if you love another. Love sets the imagination on fire, and, also, eventually, chars the imagination into a harder element: imagination cannot match love, cannot plunge so deep, or range so wide. James A Baldwin

One writes out of one thing only-one's own experience. Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give. This is the only real concern of the artist, to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art. James A Baldwin

I really do believe in the New Jerusalem. I really do believe that we can all become better than we are. I know we can. But the price is enormous and people are not yet willing to pay it. James A Baldwin

A man's balance depends on the weight he carries between his legs. James A Baldwin

It is rare indeed that people give. Most people guard and keep; they suppose that it is they themselves and what they identify with themselves that they are guarding and keeping, whereas what they are actually guarding and keeping is their system of reality and what they assume themselves to be. James A Baldwin

For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn't any other tale to tell, it's the only light we've got in all this darkness. James A Baldwin

History is not a procession of illustrious people. It's about what happens to a people. Millions of anonymous people is what history is about. James A Baldwin

To accept one's past - one's history - is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it. An invented past can never be used; it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought. James A Baldwin

People said that he was very nice, but I confess that his utter grotesqueness made me uneasy; perhaps in the same way that the sight of monkeys eating their own excrement turns some people's stomachs. They might not mind so much if monkeys did not- so grotesquely- resemble human beings. James A Baldwin

But, when the chips are down, its better to be furious with someone you love, or frightened for someone you love, than be put through the merciless horror of being ashamed of someone you love. James A Baldwin

The victim who is able to articulate the situation of the victim has ceased to be a victim: he or she has become a threat. James A Baldwin

The American ideal is, after all, that everyone should be as much alike as possible. James A Baldwin

Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity James A Baldwin

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