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Top 500 James Baldwin Quotes (2022 Update)
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James Baldwin Quote: “Do I really want to be integrated into a burning house?”
James Baldwin Quote: “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.”
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: “Allegiance, after all, has to work two ways; and one can grow weary of an allegiance which is not reciprocal.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Because I was raised in a Christian culture I never considered myself to be a totally free human being.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Whose little boy are you?”
James Baldwin Quote: “We can make America what America must become.”
James Baldwin Quote: “A society must assume that it is stable, but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven.”
James Baldwin Quote: “When one begins to live by habit and by quotation, one has begun to stop living.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Those kids aren’t dumb. But the people who run these schools want to make sure they don’t get smart: they are really teaching the kids to be slaves.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Whatever white people do not know about Negroes reveals, precisely and inexorably, what they do not know about themselves.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Time catches up with kingdoms and crushes them, gets its teeth into doctrines and rends them; time reveals the foundations on which any kingdom rests, and eats at those foundations, and it destroys doctrines by proving them to be untrue.”
James Baldwin Quote: “It is a very rare man who does not victimize the helpless.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The root of the black man’s hatred is rage, and he does not so much hate white men as simply wants them out of his way, and, more than that, out of his children’s way.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Negro servants have been smuggling odds and ends out of white homes for generations, and white people have been delighted to have them do it, because it has assuaged a dim guilt and testified to the intrinsic superiority of white people.”
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: “Society is held together by our need; we bind it together with legend, myth, coercion, fearing that without it we will be hurled into that void, within which, like the earth before the Word was spoken, the foundations of society are hidden.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Any writer, I suppose, feels that the world into which he was born is nothing less than a conspiracy against the cultivation of his talent.”
James Baldwin Quote: “You took the best, so why not take the rest?”
James Baldwin Quote: “The writer’s only real task: to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Every legend, moreover, contains its residuum of truth, and the root function of language is to control the universe by describing it.”
James Baldwin Quote: “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.”
James Baldwin Quote: “History is not a procession of illustrious people. It’s about what happens to a people. Millions of anonymous people is what history is about.”
James Baldwin Quote: “When he died I had been away from home for a little over a year. In that year I had had time to become aware of the meaning of all my father’s bitter warnings, had discovered the secret of his proudly pursed lips and rigid carriage: I had discovered the weight of white people in the world. I saw that this had been for my ancestors and now would be for me an awful thing to live with and that the bitterness which had helped to kill my father could also kill me.”
James Baldwin Quote: “There is no reason for you try to become like white people and there is no basis whatever for their impertinent assumption that they must accept you. The really terrible thing, old buddy, is that you must accept them. And I mean that very seriously. You must accept them and accept them with love. For these innocent people have no other hope. They are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I often wonder what I’d do if there weren’t any books in the world.”
James Baldwin Quote: “White people were, and are, astounded by the holocaust in Germany. They did not know that they could act that way. But I very much doubt whether black people were astounded – at least, in the same way.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The establishment of democracy on the American continent was scarcely as radical a break with the past as was the necessity, which Americans faced, of broadening this concept to include black men.”
James Baldwin Quote: “It is dangerous to be an American Negro male. America has never wanted its Negroes to be men, and does not, generally, treat them as men. It treats them as mascots, pets, or things.”
James Baldwin Quote: “All art is a kind of confession.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I’m beginning to think that maybe everything that happens makes sense. Like, if it didn’t make sense, how could it happen?”
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: “If one is continually surviving the worst that life can bring, one eventually ceases to be controlled by a fear of what life can bring; whatever it bring must be borne. And at this level of experience one’s bitterness begins to be palatable, and hatred becomes too heavy a sack to carry.”
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: “The American soil is full of corpses of my ancestors– through 400 years and at least three wars. Why is my freedom, my citizenship, in question now?”
James Baldwin Quote: “One can give nothing whatever without giving oneself – that is to say, risking oneself. If one cannot risk oneself, then one is simply incapable of giving.”
James Baldwin Quote: “There are few things under heaven more unnerving than the silent, accumulating contempt and hatred of a people.”
James Baldwin Quote: “It was as though we were a picture, trapped in time: this had been happening for hundreds of years, people sitting in a room, waiting for dinner, and listening to the blues.”
James Baldwin Quote: “For here you were, Big James, named for me – you were a big baby, I was not – here you were, to be loved. To be loved, baby, hard, at once, and forever, to strengthen you against the loveless world.”
James Baldwin Quote: “It goes without saying, I believe, that if we understood ourselves better, we would damage ourselves less.”
James Baldwin Quote: “If we understood ourselves better we would damage ourselves less.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I guess it can’t be too often that two people can laugh and make love, too, make love because they are laughing, laugh because they’re making love. The love and the laughter come from the same place: but not many people go there.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Most of us are about as eager to be changed as we were to be born, and go through our changes in a similar state of shock.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The Constitution gives you the right, as a white man, to have a rifle in your home. The Constitution gives you the right to protect yourself. Why is it ‘ominous’ when black people even talk of having rifles? Why don’t we have the right to self-defense? Is it because maybe you know we’re going to have to defend ourselves against you?”
James Baldwin Quote: “I have been carried into precinct basements often enough, and I have seen and heard and endured the secrets of desperate white men and women, which they knew were safe with me, because even if I should speak, no one would believe me. And they would not believe me precisely because they would know that what I said was true.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Man cannot live by profit alone.”
James Baldwin Quote: “But he had the tendency of all wildly disorganised people to suppose that the lives of others were tamer and less sensual and more cerebral than his own.”
James Baldwin Quote: “It is really quite impossible to be affirmative about anything which one refuses to question; one is doomed to remain inarticulate about about anything which one hasn’t, by an act of the imagination, made one’s own.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The reason people think it’s important to be white is that they think it’s important not to be black.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I really do believe in the New Jerusalem. I really do believe that we can all become better than we are. I know we can. But the price is enormous and people are not yet willing to pay it.”
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