All Quotes, James Baldwin

55 James Baldwin Quotes On oppression, Love, Education

James Baldwin was a novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, and activist. Go Tell It on the Mountain was his first novel. His notable characteristics as a writer were his ability to address American race relations from a psychological perspective. His writing is rhythmic, elegant but angular, with some spellbinding staccato.

He was The oldest of his nine siblings. Growing up in poverty he shared a troubled relationship with his strict, religious stepfather. He never knew who was his biological father. He began writing it when he was only seventeen and first published it in Paris. His first collection of essays, Notes of a Native Son appeared two years later. The Fire Next Time is his most popular book.

People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them. James 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 Baldwin
Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. James Baldwin
When one begins to live by habit and by quotation, one has begun to stop living. James Baldwin
You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. James Baldwin
The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose. James Baldwin
The future is like heaven, everyone exalts it, but no one wants to go there now. James Baldwin
It is a very rare man who does not victimize the helpless. James Baldwin
The power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world's definitions. James Baldwin
Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated, and this was an immutable law. James Baldwin
Trust life, and it will teach you, in joy and sorrow, all you need to know. James Baldwin
An identity would seem to be arrived at by the way in which the person faces and uses his experience. James Baldwin
The responsibility of a writer is to excavate the experience of the people who produced him. James Baldwin
The only thing that white people have that black people need, or should want, is power-and no one holds power forever. James 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 Baldwin
The reason people think it's important to be white is that they think it's important not to be black. James 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 Baldwin
You have to decide who you are and force the world to deal with you, not with its idea of you. James Baldwin
You don’t have a home until you leave it and then, when you have left it, you never can go back. James Baldwin
When you're writing you're trying to find out something which you don't know. James Baldwin
Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up. James Baldwin
It is very nearly impossible... to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind. James Baldwin
People can cry much easier than they can change. James Baldwin
Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. James Baldwin
Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. James Baldwin
Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition. James Baldwin
No man is a devil in his own mind. James Baldwin
The impossible is the least that one can demand. James Baldwin
For nothing is more unbearable, once one has it, than freedom. James 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 don’t see. James Baldwin
It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have. James Baldwin
People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead. James Baldwin
A liberal: someone who thinks he knows more about your experience than you do. James Baldwin
It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have. James Baldwin
Precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience, you must find yourself at war with your society. James Baldwin
Neither love nor terror makes one blind: indifference makes one blind. James Baldwin
The noblest spirit is most strongly attracted by the love of glory. James Baldwin
People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned. James Baldwin
Hatred is always self hatred, and there is something suicidal about it. James Baldwin
Be careful what you set your heart upon - for it will surely be yours. James Baldwin
Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor. James Baldwin
To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time. James Baldwin
Nakedness has no color: this can come as news only to those who have never covered, or been covered by, another naked human being. James Baldwin
You write in order to change the world ... if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it. James Baldwin
Confusion is a luxury which only the very, very young can possibly afford. James Baldwin
Whoever debases others is debasing himself. James Baldwin
To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger. James Baldwin
The purpose of education…is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions. James Baldwin
The price one pays for pursuing any profession or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side. James Baldwin
I can't believe what you say, because I see what you do. James Baldwin
The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers. James Baldwin
Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be. James Baldwin
Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go. James Baldwin
Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart; for his purity, by definition, is unassailable. James Baldwin
We are very cruelly trapped between what we would like to be and what we actually are. And we cannot possibly become what we would like to be until we are willing to ask ourselves just why the lives we lead on this continent are mainly so empty, so tame, and so ugly. James Baldwin

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