Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.

— James A. Baldwin

The most reckoning James A. Baldwin quotes that may be undiscovered and unusual

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.

127

Trust life, and it will teach you, in joy and sorrow, all you need to know.

84

It comes as a great shock…to discover that the flag to which you have pledged allegiance…has not pledged allegiance to you. It comes as a great shock to see Gary Cooper killing off the Indians, and although you are rooting for Gary Cooper, that the Indians are you.

82

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.

61

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.

59

A civilization is not destroyed by wicked people;

it is not necessary that people be wicked but only that they be spineless.

55

Most people... find a disorientating mismatch between the long-term nature of their liabilities and the increasingly short-term nature of their assets.

54

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.

50

If the word 'integration' means anything, this is what it means that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it.

49

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.

45

People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction.

43

The purpose of education...is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions.

41

About James A. Baldwin

Quotes 304 sayings
Profession Novelist
Birthday August 2, 1924

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.

38

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.

37

Freedom is not something that anybody can be given.

Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be

28

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

23

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.

23

This is the charged, the dangerous moment, when everything must be re-examined, must be made new, when nothing at all can be taken for granted.

22

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.

22

I think that the inability to love is the central problem, because that inability masks a certain terror, and that terror is the terror of being touched. And if you can't be touched, you can't be changed. And if you can't be changed, you can't be alive.

22

People who believe that they are strong-willed and the masters of their destiny can only continue to believe this by becoming specialists in self-deception.

21

Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word "love" here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace - not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.

20

Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.

19

I can't be a pessimist, because I am alive.

19

No man is a devil in his own mind.

18

There are people in the world for whom "coming along" is a perpetual process, people who are destined never to arrive.

15

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.

14

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

14

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

12

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.

12

The moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.

12

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

11

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.

10

The universe, which is not merely the stars and the moon and the planets, flowers, grass and trees, but other people, has evolved no terms for your existence, has made no room for you, and if love will not swing wide the gates, no other power will or can. And if one despairs-- as who has not?-- of human love, God's love alone is left.

10

To be with God is really to be involved in some enormous, overwhelming desire, and joy, and power which you cannot control, which controls you.

10

Words like "freedom," "justice," "democracy" are not common concepts;

on the contrary, they are rare. People are not born knowing what these are. It takes enormous and, above all, individual effort to arrive at the respect for other people that these words imply.

10

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

10

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.

9

The making of an American begins at the point where he himself rejects all other ties, any other history, and himself adopts the vesture of his adopted land.

9

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.

8

Whoever debases others is debasing himself.

8

Allegiance, after all, has to work two ways;

and one can grow weary of an allegiance which is not reciprocal.

8

All art is a kind of confession.

8

We cannot discuss the state of our minorities until we first have a sense of what we are, who we are, what our goals are, and what we take life to be.

7

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.

7

Great art can only be created out of love.

6

The future is like heaven-everyone exalts it but no one wants to go there now.

6

Confronted with the impossibility of remaining faithful to one's beliefs, and the equal impossibility of becoming free of them, one can be driven to the most inhuman excesses.

6

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.

6
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