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James Baldwin Quotes

  • I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive. 
  • 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. 
  • To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time. 
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch. 
  • Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor. 
  • Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. 
  • Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated, and this was an immutable law. —  The Fire Next Time
  • I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain. — The Fire Next Time
  • The victim who is able to articulate the situation of the victim has ceased to be a victim: he or she has become a threat. 
  • The writer’s only real task: to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art.
  • 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.
  • 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. — Go Tell It On the Mountain
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