James Baldwin

(James Arthur Baldwin)

James Baldwin
James Baldwin
  • Born: August 2, 1924
  • Died: December 1, 1987
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Writer









James Arthur Baldwin was an American novelist and social critic. His essays, as collected in Notes of a Native Son (1955), explore intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th-century America. Some of Baldwin's essays are book-length, including The Fire Next Time (1963), No Name in the Street (1972), and The Devil Finds Work (1976). An unfinished manuscript, Remember This House, was expanded and adapted for cinema as the Academy Award–nominated documentary film I Am Not Your Negro.

Quotes About
Author Quote
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A Black man who acted like John Wayne does in his filmes would be considered a raving maniac.
A ghetto can be improved in only one way; out of existence. Housing
Causes, as we know, are notoriously bloodthirsty… Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Christianity has operated with an unmitigated arrogance and cruelty—necessarily, since a religion ordinarily imposes on those who have discovered the true faith the spiritual duty of liberating the infidels. Religion & God
Freedom is not something that anybody can be given; freedom is something people take and people are as free as they want to be. Freedom & Liberty
History is not the past. History is the present. We carry our history with us.
I do not know many Negroes who are eager to be “accepted” by white people, still less to be loved by them; they, the blacks, simply don’t wish to be beaten over the head by the whites every instant of our brief passage on the planet. Minorities & Women ;Race & Race Relations
I don't know what white people in America feel about blacks. I can only infer it from their institutions. I don't know if white Christians hate negroes, but they do not invite us to their churches. I do not know that white labor unions hate blacks, but they will not admit us. I do not know if the white educators hate us, but they do not allow us in their schools, and they do not teach us very well in the schools they do give us.
I imagine that one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, that they will be forced to deal with pain. Human Nature
I knew a blond [white] girl once. She was far safer walking alone at night on the streets than she was walking with me, an incredibley humiliating experience for me. But it happens all the time in America.
I suggest that what has happened to the white Southerner is in some ways much worse than what has happened to the Negroes there ... One has to assume that he is a man like me, but he does not know what drives him to use the club, to menace with a gun, and to use a cattle prod against a woman's breasts ... Their moral lives have been destroyed by a plague called color. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
If a white man says, "give me liberty or give me death" in any country, white men all over the world stand up and applaud. But if a black man says the same thing--the exact same words--he is created like a dangerous criminal.
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. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
People without money are slaves. Poverty
The making of an American begins at that point where he himself rejects all other ties, any other history, and adopts the vesture of his adopted land. Citizenship & Patriotism
The passion and will for freedom is always contradicted by the necessity of the state. Freedom & Liberty
The people who are denied participation in the American Dream -- will wreck it.
The price of the liberation of the whites is the liberation of the Blacks. Discrimination & Prejudice
The root of the black man's hate is rage, not the rage agaist the white man, but the rage for him to be out of his way, especially his children's way. The root of the white man's hate is terror.
The Statue of Liberty is for Blacks a … joke. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
The story of the Negro in America is the story of America. It is not a pretty story.
The world is white no longer, and it will never be again. Discrimination & Prejudice
These are our children. We will all profit by and pay for whatever they become. Families, Children & Parenting
This is not the land of the free. It is only sporatically and often unwittingly the land of the brave.
Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by those who are doing it. Human Nature
We can all become better than we are. Human Nature
What really exercises my mind is not this hypothetical day on which some other Negro ‘first’ will become the first Negro president. What I am really curious about is just what kind of country he’ll be President of. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
An identity would seem to be arrived at by the way in which the person faces and uses his experience.
But the relationship of morality and power is a very subtle one. Because ultimately power without morality is no longer power. Power
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.
Europe has what we 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. Life
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.
It is a great shock at the age of five or six to find that in a world of Gary Coopers you are the Indian.
It is a very rare man who does not victimize the helpless.
It is only in his music, which Americans are able to admire because a protective sentimentality limits their understanding of it, that the Negro in America has been able to tell his story. Music, Chants & Rapps
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. History
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. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Society
The primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid; the state of being alone.
The reason people think it's important to be white is that they think it's important not to be black.
The responsibility of a writer is to excavate the experience of the people who produced him.
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.
We have all had the experience of finding that our reactions and perhaps even our deeds have denied beliefs we thought were ours.