James A Baldwin Quotes & Wallpapers

James A Baldwin
Total Quotes: 397


I must oppose any attempt that Negroes may make to do to others what has been done to them. . . . I know the spiritual wasteland to which that road leads . . . whoever debases others is debasing himself. James A Baldwin
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...in order for this to happen, your entire frame of reference will have to change, and you will be forced to surrender many things that you now scarcely know you have. James A Baldwin
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All art is a kind of confession. James A Baldwin
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Because I was raised in a Christian culture I never considered myself to be a totally free human being. James A Baldwin
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When the white man came to Africa, the white man had the Bible and the African had the land, but now it is the white man who is being, reluctantly and bloodily, separated from the land, and the African who is still attempting to digest or to vomit up the Bible. James A Baldwin
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I don't know, now, when I first looked at Hella and found her stale, found her body uninteresting, her presence grating. It seemed to happen all at once-I suppose that only means that it had been happening for a long time. James A Baldwin
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There is no reason for you to try to become like white people and there is no basis whatever for their impertinent assumption that *they* must accept *you*. The really terrible thing, old buddy, is that you must accept them. And I mean that very seriously. You must accept them and accept them with love. James A Baldwin
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There are too many things we do not wish to know about ourselves. James A Baldwin
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I started reading. I read everything I could get my hands on...By the time I was thirteen I had read myself out of Harlem. I had read every book in two libraries and had a card for the Forty-Second Street branch. James A Baldwin
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The poet or the revolutionary is there to articulate the necessity, but until the people themselves apprehend it, nothing can happen ... Perhaps it can't be done without the poet, but it certainly can't be done without the people. The poet and the people get on generally very badly, and yet they need each other. The poet knows it sooner than the people do. The people usually know it after the poet is dead; but that's all right. The point is to get your work done, and your work is to change the world. James A Baldwin
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You don't realize that you're intelligent until it gets you into trouble. James A Baldwin
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Whose little boy are you? James A Baldwin
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Perhaps, as we say in America, I wanted to find myself. This is an interesting phrase, not current as far as I know in the language of any other people, which certainly does not mean what it says but betrays a nagging suspicion that something has been misplaced. I think now that if I had any intimation that the self I was going to find would turn out to be only the same self from which I had spent so much time in flight, I would have stayed at home. James A Baldwin
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A person does not lightly elect to oppose his society. One would much rather be at home among one's compatriots than be mocked and detested by them. And there is a level on which the mockery of people, even their hatred, is moving, because it is so blind: It is terrible to watch people cling to their captivity and insist on their own destruction. James A Baldwin
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Sometimes you hear a person speak the truth and you know that they are speaking the truth. But you also know that they have not heard themselves, do not know what they have said: do not know that they have revealed much more than they have said. This may be why the truth remains, on the whole, so rare. James A Baldwin
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Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but, most of all, endurance. James A Baldwin
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It is a terrible, an inexorable law that one cannot deny the humanity of another without diminishing one's own: in the face of one's victim, one sees oneself. James A Baldwin
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I am aware that no man is a villain in his own eyes. James A Baldwin
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Then I buckled up my shoes, and I started. James A Baldwin
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The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now. James A Baldwin
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White people...have quite enough to do in learning how to accept and love themselves and each other, and when they have achieved this - which will not be tomorrow and may very well be never - the Negro problem will no longer exist, for it will no longer be needed. James A Baldwin
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But to look back from the stony plain along the road which led one to that place is not at all the same thing as walking on the road; the perspective to say the very least, changes only with the journey; only when the road has, all abruptly and treacherously, and with an absoluteness that permits no argument, turned or dropped or risen is one able to see all that one could not have seen from any other place. James A Baldwin
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You want to write a sentence as clean as a bone. That is the goal. James A Baldwin
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There exists among the intolerable degraded, the perverse and powerful desire to force into the arena of the actual those fantastic crimes of which they have been accused, achieving their vengeance and their own destruction through making the nightmare real. James A Baldwin
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Our dehumanization of the Negro then is indivisible from our dehumanization of ourselves; the loss of our own identity is the price we pay for our annulment of his. James A Baldwin
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It is a very grave matter to be forced to imitate a people for whom you know-which is the price of your performance and survival-you do not exist. It is hard to imitate a people whose existence appears, mainly, to be made tolerable by their bottomless gratitude that they are not, thank heaven, you. James A Baldwin
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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 appear to believe that the country was founded by a band of heroes who wanted to be free. That happens not to be true. What happened was that some people left Europe because they couldn't stay there any longer and had to go somewhere else to make it. That's all. They were hungry, they were poor, they were convicts. Those who were making it in England, for example, did not get on the Mayflower. That's how the country was settled. James A Baldwin
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To be born in a free society and not to be born free is to be born into a lie. To be told by co-citizens and co-Christians that you have no value, no history, have never done anything that is worthy of human respect destroys you because in the beginning you believe it. James A Baldwin
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Each of us, helplessly and forever, contains the other-male in female, female in male, white in black, and black in white. We are part of each other. Many of my countrymen appear to find this fact exceedingly inconvenient and even unfair, and so, very often, do I. But none of us can do anything about it. James A Baldwin
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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. James A Baldwin
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I've always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative. James A Baldwin
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Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor. James A Baldwin
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Be careful what you set your heart upon - for it will surely be yours. James A Baldwin
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There is a fearful splendor in absolute desolation. James A Baldwin
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People don't have any mercy. They tear you limb from limb, in the name of love. Then, when you're dead, when they've killed you by what they made you go through, they say you didn't have any character. They weep big, bitter tears - not for you. For themselves, because they've lost their toy. James A Baldwin
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True rebels after all, are as rare as true lovers,and in both cases, to mistake a fever for passion can destroy one's life James A Baldwin
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The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in. James A Baldwin
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There is a 'sanctity' involved with bringing a child into this world: it is better than bombing one out of it. James A Baldwin
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The writer's greed is appalling. He wants, or seems to want, everything and practically everybody, in another sense, and at the same time, he needs no one at all. James A Baldwin
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The noblest spirit is most strongly attracted by the love of glory. James A Baldwin
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One day, to everyone's astonishment, someone drops a match in the powder keg and everything blows up. James A Baldwin
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Such figures as Boy George do not disturb me nearly so much as do those relentlessly hetero (sexual?) keepers of the keys and seals, those who know what the world needs in the way of order and who are ready and willing to supply that order. James A Baldwin
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All racists are irresponsible. James A Baldwin
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When the book comes out it may hurt you - but in order for me to do it, it had to hurt me first. I can only tell you about yourself as much as I can face about myself. James A Baldwin
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The world's definitions are one thing and the life one actually lives is quite another. One cannot allow oneself, nor one's family, friends, or lovers - to say nothing of one's children - to live according to the world's definitions: one must find a way, perpetually, to be stronger and better than that. James A Baldwin
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You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can't, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world... The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way ... people look at reality, then you can change it. James A Baldwin
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When you're writing, you're trying to find out something which you don't know. The whole language of writing for me is finding out what you don't want to know, what you don't want to find out. But something forces you to anyway. James A Baldwin
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And love will simply have no choice but to go into battle with space and time, and furthermore, to win. James A Baldwin
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Unless a writer is extremely old when he dies, in which case he has probably become a neglected institution, his death must always seem untimely. James A Baldwin
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In the invincible and indescribable squalor of Harlem ... I was tormented. I felt caged, like an animal. I wanted to escape. I felt if I did not get out I would slowly strangle. James A Baldwin
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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. James A Baldwin
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After my best friend jumped off the bridge, I knew that I was next. So-Paris. With forty dollars and a one-way ticket. James A Baldwin
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There are so many ways of being despicable it quite makes one's head spin. But the way to be really despicable is to be contemptuous of other people's pain. James A Baldwin
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I began plotting novels at about the time I learned to read . The story of my childhood is the usual bleak fantasy , and we can dismiss it with the restrained observation that I certainly would not consider living it again. James A Baldwin
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The betrayal of a belief is not the same thing as ceasing to believe. If this were not so there would be no moral standards in the world at all. James A Baldwin
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Art has to be a kind of confession. I don't mean a true confession in the sense of that dreary magazine. The effort it seems to me, is: if you can examine and face your life, you can discover the terms with which you are connected to other lives, and they can discover them, too the terms with which they are connected to other people. James A Baldwin
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You don't have a home until you leave it and then, when you have left it, you never can go back. James A Baldwin
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Years ago, when he was around fourteen, he'd been all hipped on the idea of going to India. He read books about people sitting on rocks, naked, in all kinds of weather, but mostly bad, naturally, and walking barefoot through hot coals and arriving at wisdom. I used to say that it sounded to me as though they were getting away from wisdom as fast as they could. I think he sort of looked down on me for that. James A Baldwin
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Freedom lurked around us and I understood, at last, that he could help us be free if we would listen, that he would never be free until we did. James A Baldwin
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If you're treated a certain way you become a certain kind of person. If certain things are described to you as being real they're real for you whether they're real or not. James A Baldwin
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We cannot discuss the state of our minorities until we first have some sense of what we are, who we are, what our goals are, and what we take life to be. The question is not what we can do now for the hypothetical Mexican, the hypothetical Negro. The question is what we really want out of life, for ourselves, what we think is real. James A Baldwin
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The occurrence of an event is not the same thing as knowing what it is that one has lived through. Most people had not lived - nor could it, for that matter, be said that they had died- through any of their terrible events. They had simply been stunned by the hammer. They passed their lives thereafter in a kind of limbo of denied and unexamined pain. The great question that faced him this morning was whether or not had had ever, really, been present at his life. James A Baldwin
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It will be hard James but you come from sturdy peasant stock men who picked cotton and dammed rivers and built railroads and in the teeth of the most terrifying odds achieved an unassailable and monumental dignity You come from a long line of great poets some of the greatest poets since Homer. One of them said "The very time I thought I was lost My dungeon shook and my chains fell off." You know and I know that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon. We cannot be free until they are free. God bless you James and Godspeed. James A Baldwin
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Experience, which destroys innocence, also leads one back to it. James A Baldwin
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When human rights are abused on a grand scale, the broth of purity boils and feeds the rebellion of a new order. James A Baldwin
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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. James A Baldwin
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If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, re-created from the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow sign. No more water, fire next time. James A Baldwin
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I can't believe what you say, because I see what you do. James A Baldwin
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Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. James A Baldwin
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Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. James A Baldwin
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