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Top 500 James Baldwin Quotes (2024 Update)
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James Baldwin Quote: “When a man asks himself what is meant by action he proves that he isn’t a man of action. Action is a lack of balance. In order to act you must be somewhat insane. A reasonably sensible man is satisfied with thinking.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world’s definitions.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I will no longer take anyone’s word for my experience.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The past is what makes the present coherent, and the past will remain horrible for exactly as long as we refuse to assess it honestly.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I think white gay people feel cheated because they were born, in principle, in a society in which they were supposed to be safe. The anomaly of their sexuality puts them in danger, unexpectedly.”
James Baldwin Quote: “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 Baldwin Quote: “History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history. If we pretend otherwise, we are literally criminals.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Be careful what you set your heart upon – for it will surely be yours.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Then I buckled up my shoes, and I started.”
James Baldwin Quote: “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.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The impossible is the least that one can demand.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The price one pays for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.”
James Baldwin Quote: “All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.”
James Baldwin Quote: “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 Quote: “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 Baldwin Quote: “To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger.”
James Baldwin Quote: “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 Baldwin Quote: “The world tends to trap you in the role you play and it is always extremely hard to maintain a watchful, mocking distance between oneself as one appears to be and oneself as one actually is.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Whatever you describe to another person is also a revelation of who you are and who you think you are. You can not describe anything without betraying your point of view, your aspirations, your fears, your hopes. Everything.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The hope of the world lies in what one demands, not of others, but of oneself.”
James Baldwin Quote: “It is very nearly impossible to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Societies never know it, but the war of an artist with his society is a lover’s war, and he does, at his best, what lovers do, which is to reveal the beloved to himself and, with that revelation, to make freedom real.”
James Baldwin Quote: “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.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I prefer sinners and madmen, who can learn, who can change, who can teach-or people like myself, if I may say so, who are not afraid to eat a lobster alone as they take on their shoulders the monumental weight of thirty years.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The very time I thought I was lost, my dungeon shook and my chains fell off.”
James Baldwin Quote: “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 seem to believe that the country was founded by a band of heroes who wanted to be free.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Color is not a human or a personal reality it is a political reality.”
James Baldwin Quote: “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 Baldwin Quote: “To defend oneself against a fear is simply to insure that one will, one day, be conquered by it; fears must be faced.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Whoever is born in New York is ill-equipped to deal with any other city: all other cities seem, at best, a mistake, and, at worst, a fraud. No other city is so spitefully incoherent.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Whoever debases others is debasing himself.”
James Baldwin Quote: “No one can possibly know what is about to happen: it is happening, each time, for the first time, for the only time.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time.”
James Baldwin Quote: “It is astonishing the lengths to which a person, or a people, will go in order to avoid a truthful mirror.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart; for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Allegiance, after all, has to work two ways; and one can grow weary of an allegiance which is not reciprocal.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I am aware that no man is a villain in his own eyes.”
James Baldwin Quote: “If the relationship of father to son could really be reduced to biology, the whole earth would blaze with the glory of fathers and sons.”
James Baldwin Quote: “One day, to everyone’s astonishment, someone drops a match in the powder keg and everything blows up.”
James Baldwin Quote: “He may be a very nice man. But I haven’t got the time to figure that out. All I know is, he’s got a uniform and a gun and I have to relate to him that way. That’s the only way to relate to him because one of us may have to die.”
James Baldwin Quote: “If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.”
James Baldwin Quote: “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.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Why, you will go home and then you will find that home is not home any more. Then you will really be in trouble. As long as you stay here, you can always think: One day I will go home.”
James Baldwin Quote: “You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity, and in as many ways as possible, that you were a worthless human being. You were not expected to aspire to excellence: you were expected to make peace with mediocrity.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Fires can’t be made with dead embers, nor can enthusiasm be stirred by spiritless men. Enthusiasm in our daily work lightens effort and turns even labor into pleasant tasks.”
James Baldwin Quote: “One can only face in others what one can face in oneself.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Not only was I not born to be a slave; I was not born to hope to become the equal of the slave master.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The questions which one asks oneself begin, at least, to illuminate the world, and become one’s key to the experience of others.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The only thing that white people have that black people need, or should want, is power-and no one holds power forever.”
James Baldwin Quote: “When human rights are abused on a grand scale, the broth of purity boils and feeds the rebellion of a new order.”
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