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James Baldwin Quotes
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James Baldwin Quote: “But just as a society must have a scapegoat, so hatred must have a symbol.”
James Baldwin Quote: “They knew that no one heard, that bloodless people cannot be made to bleed. So they blew what everyone had heard before, they reassured everyone that nothing terrible was happening.”
James Baldwin Quote: “You face reality, not the lights. The lights go off as quickly as they come on.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Out of this incredible brutality, we get the myth of the happy darky and Gone With the Wind. And the North Americans appear to believe these legends, which they have created and which absolutely nothing in reality corroborates, until today. And when these legends are attacked, as is happening now – all over a globe which has never been and never will be White – my countrymen become childishly vindictive and unutterably dangerous. The.”
James Baldwin Quote: “She was so incredibly beautiful – she seemed to be wearing the sunlight, rearranging it around her from time to time, with a movement of one hand, with a movement of her head, and with her smile – that, when she paid the man and started out of the store, I started out behind her.”
James Baldwin Quote: “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.”
James Baldwin Quote: “And the reason for this ignorance is that a knowledge of the role these people played – and play – in American life would reveal more about America to Americans than Americans wish to know. The.”
James Baldwin Quote: “People said that he was very nice, but I confess that his utter grotesqueness made me uneasy; perhaps in the same way that the sight of monkeys eating their own excrement turns some people’s stomachs. They might not mind so much if monkeys did not- so grotesquely- resemble human beings.”
James Baldwin Quote: “In the United States, violence and heroism have been made synonymous except when it comes to blacks, and.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I went down again. My heart and I went down again. I was aware of her hand. I was aware of my breathing. I could no longer see it, but I was aware of her face.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Don’t let it make you bitter. Try to understand. Try to understand. The world’s already bitter enough, we got to try to be better than the world.”
James Baldwin Quote: “She was twenty and had come to realize that, though she had a voice, she wasn’t a singer; that to endure and embrace the life of a singer demands a whole lot more than a voice.”
James Baldwin Quote: “In America, though, life seems to move faster than anywhere else on the globe and each generation is promised more than it will get: which creates, in each generation, a furious, bewildered rage, the rage of people who cannot find solid ground beneath their feet. Just.”
James Baldwin Quote: “People find it very difficult to act on what they know. To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Every man in the chapel hoped that when his hour came he, too, would be eulogized, which is to say forgiven, and that all of his lapses, greeds, errors, and strayings from the truth would be invested with coherence and looked upon with charity. This was perhaps the last thing humans could give each other and it was what they demanded, after all, of the Lord.”
James Baldwin Quote: “In short, we, the black and the white, deeply need each other here if we are really to become a nation- if we really, that is, to achieve our identity, our maturity, as men and women. To create one nation has proved to be a hideously difficult task.”
James Baldwin Quote: “It is easy to proclaim all souls equal in the sight of God; it is hard to make men equal on earth in the sight of men.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Because only an artist can tell and only an artist have told, since we have heard of man, what it is like for anyone that gets this planet, to survive it. What it is like to die, or to have somebody die, what it is like to fear death, what is it like to fear, what it is like to love, what it is like to be glad.”
James Baldwin Quote: “An identity is questioned only when it is menaced... Identity would seem to be the garment with which one covers the nakedness of the self...”
James Baldwin Quote: “But if women are supposed to be led by men and there aren’t any men to lead them, what happens then? What happens then?”
James Baldwin Quote: “For, without love, pleasure withers quickly, becomes a foul taste on the palate, and pleasure’s inventions are soon exhausted. There must be a soul within the body you are holding, a soul which you are striving to meet, a soul which is striving to meet yours.”
James Baldwin Quote: “She fitted in my arms, she always had, and the shock of holding her caused me to feel that my arms had been empty since she had been away.”
James Baldwin Quote: “His body, which I had come to know so well, glowed in the light and charged and thickened the air between us. Then something opened in my brain, a secret, noiseless door swung open, frightening me: it had not occurred to me until that instant that, in fleeing from his body, I confirmed and perpetuated his body’s power over me.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Well, I may or may not be bitter, but if I were I would have good reasons for it: chief among them that American blindness, or cowardice, which allows us to pretend that life presents no reasons for being bitter.”
James Baldwin Quote: “But that battered word, truth, having made its appearance here, confronts one immediately with a series of riddles and has, moreover, since so many gospels are preached, the unfortunate tendency to make one belligerent.”
James Baldwin Quote: “All racists are irresponsible.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Every writer has only one story to tell, and he has to find a way of telling it until the meaning becomes clearer and clearer, until the story becomes at once more narrow and larger, more and more precise, more and more reverberating.”
James Baldwin Quote: “And then, again, I was undergoing with my father what the very young inevitability undergo with their elders: I was beginning to judge him. And the very harshness of this judgement, which broke my heart, revealed, though I could not have said it then, how much I had loved him, how that love, along with my innocence, was dying.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The woman on the bed was old, her life was fading as the mist rose. She thought of her mother as already in the grave; and she would not let herself be strangled by the hands of the dead. “I’m going, Ma,” she said. “I got to go.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The morning weighs on my shoulders with the dreadful weight of hope and I take the blue envelope which Jacques has sent me and tear it slowly into many pieces, watching them dance in the wind, watching the wind carry them away. Yet, as I turn and begin walking toward the waiting people, the wind blows some of them back on me.”
James Baldwin Quote: “It seems to be typical of life in America, where opportunities, real and fancied, are thicker than anywhere else on the globe, that the second generation has no time to talk to the first.”
James Baldwin Quote: “I remembered my mother’s insistence that I always wear clean underwear because I might get knocked down by a car on the way to or from school and I and the family would be disgraced even beyond the grave, presumably, if my underwear was dirty. And I began to worry, in fact, as the doctor sniffed and prodded, about the state of the shorts I was wearing. This made me want to laugh. But I could not breathe.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Sometimes, when he was not near me, I thought, I will never let him ‘Touch’ me again. Then, when he ‘Touched’ me, I thought, it doesn’t matter, it is only the body, it will soon be over. When it was over, I lay in the dark and listened to his breathing and dreamed of the ‘Touch’ of hands, of Giovanni’s hands, or anybody’s hands, hands which would have the power to crush me and make me whole again.”
James Baldwin Quote: “This lack of what may roughly be called social paranoia causes the American writer in Europe to feel – almost certainly for the first time in his life – that he can reach out to everyone, that he is accessible to everyone and open to everything. This is an extraordinary feeling. He feels, so to speak, his own weight, his own value.”
James Baldwin Quote: “If your countrymen think that privacy is a crime, so much the worse for your country.”
James Baldwin Quote: “For Bigger’s tragedy is not that he is cold or black or hungry, not even that he is American, black; but that he has accepted a theology that denies him life, that he admits the possibility of his being sub-human and feels constrained, therefore, to battle for his humanity according to those brutal criteria bequeathed him at his birth. 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 burden of his salvation seemed to be on me and I could not endure it.”
James Baldwin Quote: “But it is part of the business of the writer – as I see it – to examine attitudes, to go beneath the surface, to tap the source.”
James Baldwin Quote: “An American Negro, however deep his sympathies, or however bright his rage, ceases to be simply a black man when he faces a black man from Africa.”
James Baldwin Quote: “There is a fearful splendor in absolute desolation.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Perhaps the best way to sum all this up is to say that the people I knew felt, mainly, a peculiar kind of relief when they knew that their boys were being shipped out of the south, to do battle overseas. It was, perhaps, like feeling that the most dangerous part of a dangerous journey had been passed and that now, even if death should come, it would come with honor and without the complicity of their countrymen. Such a death would be, in short, a fact with which one could hope to live.”
James Baldwin Quote: “People are full of surprise, even for themselves, if they have been stirred enough.”
James Baldwin Quote: “This innocent country set you down in a ghetto in which, in fact, it intended that you should perish.”
James Baldwin Quote: “But white Americans do not believe in death, and this is why the darkness of my skin so intimidates them.”
James Baldwin Quote: “The people in Harlem know they are living there because white people do not think they are good enough to live anywhere else. No amount of “improvement” can sweeten this fact. Whatever money is now being earmarked to improve this, or any other ghetto, might as well be burnt. A ghetto can be improved in one way only: out of existence.”
James Baldwin Quote: “In the first place, as the homeless wanderers of the twentieth century prove, the question of nationality no longer necessarily involves the question of allegiance. Allegiance, after all, has to work two ways; and one can grow weary of an allegiance which is not reciprocal.”
James Baldwin Quote: “Wash me, cried the slave to his Maker, and I shall be whiter, whiter than snow!”
James Baldwin Quote: “There they stood, in twos and threes and fours, in their Cub Scout uniforms and with their Cub Scout faces, totally unprepared, as is the way with American he-men, for anything that could not be settled with a club or a fist or a gun.”
James Baldwin Quote: “It’s funny about people. Just before something happens, you almost know what it is. You do know what it is, I believe. You just haven’t had the time – and now you won’t have the time – to say it to yourself.”
James Baldwin Quote: “But as long as we in the West place on color the value that we do, we make it impossible for the great unwashed to consolidate themselves according to any other principle. Color is not a human or a personal reality; it is a political reality.”
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