James A Baldwin Quotes & Wallpapers

James A Baldwin
Total Quotes: 397


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. James A Baldwin

It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have. James A Baldwin

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. James A Baldwin

In my case, I think my exile saved my life, for it inexorably confirmed something which Americans appear to have great difficulty accepting. Which is, simply, this: a man is not a man until he is able and willing to accept his own vision of the world, no matter how radically this vision departs from others. James A Baldwin

You took the best, so why not take the rest? James A Baldwin

One is responsible to life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return. James A Baldwin

I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also, much more than that. So are we all. James A Baldwin

A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled. James A Baldwin

I want to be an honest man and a good writer. James A Baldwin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You want to write a sentence as clean as a bone. That is the goal. James A Baldwin

All racists are irresponsible. James A Baldwin

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

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

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

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

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

Whose little boy are you? James A Baldwin

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

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

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

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

And love will simply have no choice but to go into battle with space and time, and furthermore, to win. 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 seem untimely. James A Baldwin

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

The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now. James A Baldwin

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

I am aware that no man is a villain in his own eyes. James A Baldwin

Then I buckled up my shoes, and I started. James A Baldwin

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

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

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

One day, to everyone's astonishment, someone drops a match in the powder keg and everything blows up. James A Baldwin

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

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

You don't realize that you're intelligent until it gets you into trouble. James A Baldwin

There is a fearful splendor in absolute desolation. James A Baldwin

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

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

I've always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative. James A Baldwin

Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor. James A Baldwin

Be careful what you set your heart upon - for it will surely be yours. James A Baldwin

The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in. James A Baldwin

There is a 'sanctity' involved with bringing a child into this world: it is better than bombing one out of it. James A Baldwin

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

The noblest spirit is most strongly attracted by the love of glory. James A Baldwin

Experience, which destroys innocence, also leads one back to it. James A Baldwin

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

The moral authority in the Western world is gone. And it is gone forever. It is gone, not because of the criminal record-everybody's record is criminal. It is gone because you cannot do one thing and pretend you're doing another! None of us, who are sitting around in some of the true limbo out-of-space, which we call "now," waiting to be saved, civilized, or discovered, have the moral authority to say anything. James A Baldwin

Precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience you must find yourself at war with your society. James A Baldwin

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

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

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

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

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

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

If I could make you stay, I would," he shouted. "If I had to beat you, chain you, starve you-if I could make you stay, I would." He turned back into the room; the wind blew his hair. He shook his finger at me, grotesquely playful. "One day, perhaps, you will wish I had. James A Baldwin

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

The interior life is a real life, and the intangible dreams of people have a tangible effect on the world. James A Baldwin

Identity would seem to be the garment with which one covers the nakedness of the self, in which case, it is best that the garment be loose, a little like the robes of the desert, through which one's nakedness can always be felt, and, sometimes, discerned. This trust in one's nakedness is all that gives one the power to change one's robes. James A Baldwin

It is astonishing that in a country so devoted to the individual, so many people should be afraid to speak. James A Baldwin

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

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

If you are going to be a writer there is nothing I can say to stop you; if you're not going to be a writer nothing I can say will help you. What you really need at the beginning is somebody to let you know that the effort is real. James A Baldwin



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