Top 100

Top 500 James Baldwin Quotes (2023 Update)
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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: “There are few things under heaven more unnerving than the silent, accumulating contempt and hatred of a people.”
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: “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: “But I felt that it was my heart which was broken. Something had broken in me to make me so cold and so perfectly still and far away.”
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: “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: “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: “Man cannot live by profit alone.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Vile as I am,” states one of the characters in Dostoevski’s The Idiot, “I don’t believe in the wagons that bring bread to humanity. For the wagons that bring bread to humanity, without any moral basis for conduct, may coldly exclude a considerable part of humanity from enjoying what is brought; so it has been already.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The questions which one asks oneself begin, at last, to illuminate the world, and become one’s key to the experience of others. One can only face in others what one can face in oneself. On this confrontation depends the measure of our wisdom and compassion. This energy is all that one finds in the rubble of vanished civilizations, and the only hope for ours.”
James Baldwin Quote: “To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger. In this case, the danger, in the minds of most white Americans, is the loss of their identity.”
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.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I met a lot of people in Europe. I even encountered myself.”
James Baldwin Quote: “People can cry much easier than they can change, a rule of psychology people like me picked up as kids on the street.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Rage cannot be hidden, it can only be dissembled. This dissembling deludes the thoughtless, and strengthens rage and adds, to rage, contempt.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The white man discovered the Cross by way of the Bible, but the black man discovered the Bible by way of the Cross.”
James Baldwin Quote: “When the South has trouble with its Negroes when the Negroes refuse to remain in their “place” it blames “outside agitators” and “Northern interference.” When the nation has trouble with the Northern Negro, it blames the Kremlin.”
James Baldwin Quote: “No people come into possession of a culture without having paid a heavy price for it.”
James Baldwin Quote: “And have brought humanity to the edge of oblivion: because they think they are white.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Confusion is a luxury which only the very, very young can possibly afford and you are not that young anymore.”
James Baldwin Quote: “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.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Money, it turned out, was exactly like sex, you thought of nothing else if you didn’t have it and thought of other things if you did.”
James Baldwin Quote: “It is perfectly possible to be enamoured of Paris while remaining totally indifferent or even hostile to the French.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Take no one’s word for anything, including mine – but trust your experience.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The aim of the dreamer, after all, is merely to go on dreaming and not be molested by the world. His dreams are his protection against the world. But the aims of life are antithetical to those of the dreamer, and the teeth of the world are sharp.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Folks can change their ways much as they want to. But I don’t care how many times you change your ways, what’s in you is in you, and it’s got to come out.”
James Baldwin Quote: “He grins again, and everything inside me moves. Oh, love. Love.”
James Baldwin Quote: “After my best friend jumped off the bridge, I knew that I was next. So-Paris. With forty dollars and a one-way ticket.”
James Baldwin Quote: “This world is white no longer, and it will never be white again.”
James Baldwin Quote: “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.”
James Baldwin Quote: “But our humanity is our burden, our life; we need not battle for it; we need only to do what is infinitely more difficult – that is, accept it.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The body in the mirror forces me to turn and face it. And I look at my body, which is under sentence of death. It is lean, hard, and cold, the incarnation of a mystery. And I do not know what moves in this body, what this body is searching. It is trapped in my mirror as it is trapped in time and it hurries toward revelation.”
James Baldwin Quote: “He was one of those people who, quick to laugh, are slow to anger; so that their anger, when it comes, is all the more impressive, seeming to leap from some unsuspected crevice like a fire which will bring the whole house down.”
James Baldwin Quote: “If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go.”
James Baldwin Quote: “People are too various to be treated so lightly. I am too various to be trusted.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I conceive of God, in fact, as a means of liberation and not a means to control others.”
James Baldwin Quote: “He made me think of home – perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”
James Baldwin Quote: “A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled.”
James Baldwin Quote: “A ghetto can be improved in one way only: out of existence.”
James Baldwin Quote: “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 Quote: “I really mean that there was no love in the church. It was a mask for hatred and self-hatred and despair.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I was guilty and irritated and full of love and pain. I wanted to kick him and I wanted to take him in my arms.”
James Baldwin Quote: “There are people in the world for whom “coming along” is a perpetual process, people who are destined never to arrive.”
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: “You know, and I know, that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon. We cannot be free until they are free.”
James Baldwin Quote: “You were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason. The limits of your ambition were, thus expected to be set forever... You were not expected to aspire to excellence: you were expected to make peace with mediocrity.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The poor are always crossing the Sahara. And the lawyers and bondsmen and all that crowd circle around the poor, exactly like vultures. Of course, they’re not any richer than the poor, really, that’s why they’ve turned into vultures, scavengers, indecent garbage men, and I’m talking about the black cats, too, who, in so many ways, are worse.”
James Baldwin Quote: “You were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason. The limits of your ambition were, thus, expected to be set forever. 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 are not expected to aspire to excellence: you were expected to make peace with mediocrity.”
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