James Baldwin Quotes On Love, Justice, Identity, Freedom

The full name of James Baldwin is James Arthur Baldwin. James Baldwin was an American novelist. He is also a playwright, essayist, poet, and activist. Here we have shared James Baldwin quotes on love, justice, identity, freedom, oppression, disagree, writing, art, inspiration, and motivation.

James Baldwin was born on August 2, 1924, in Harlem, New York, United States, and died on December 1, 1987, in Saint Paul de Vence, France.

James Baldwin quotes

The power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world’s definitions. – James Baldwin

People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned. – James Baldwin

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

An identity would seem to be arrived at by the way in which the person faces and uses his experience. – James Baldwin

james baldwin quotes
Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it. – James Baldwin

I’ve always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative. – James Baldwin

American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it. – James Baldwin

Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up. – James Baldwin

Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated, and this was an immutable law. – James Baldwin

It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have. – James Baldwin

james baldwin quotes
Education is indoctrination if you’re white – subjugation if you’re black. – James Baldwin

To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time. – James Baldwin

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

Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart; for his purity, by definition, is unassailable. – James Baldwin

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. – James Baldwin

Love him and let him love you. Do you think anything else under heaven really matters? – James Baldwin

There is never a time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now. – James Baldwin

james baldwin quotes
No people come into possession of a culture without having paid a heavy price for it. – James Baldwin

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 their lives, they lead. – James Baldwin

I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually. – James Baldwin

Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch. – James Baldwin

I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also, much more than that. So are we all. – James Baldwin

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

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james baldwin quotes
The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in. – James Baldwin

The only thing that white people have that black people need, or should want, is power-and no one holds power forever. – James Baldwin

Every legend, moreover, contains its residuum of truth, and the root function of language is to control the universe by describing it. – James Baldwin

Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor. – James Baldwin

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

The reason people think it’s important to be white is that they think it’s important not to be black. – James Baldwin

james baldwin quotes
The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose. – James Baldwin

To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the making of bread. – James Baldwin

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. – James Baldwin

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. – James Baldwin

Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. – James Baldwin

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

james baldwin quotes
To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger. – James Baldwin

Pessimists are the people who have no hope for themselves or for others. Pessimists are also people who think the human race is beneath their notice, that they’re better than other human beings. – James Baldwin

The primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid; the state of being alone. – James Baldwin

The future is like heaven, everyone exalts it, but no one wants to go there now. – James Baldwin

The making of an American begins at the point where he himself rejects all other ties, any other history, and himself adopts the vesture of his adopted land. – James Baldwin

It is only in his music, which Americans are able to admire because a protective sentimentality limits their understanding of it, that the Negro in America has been able to tell his story. – James Baldwin

james baldwin quotes
People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them. – James Baldwin

The responsibility of a writer is to excavate the experience of the people who produced him. – James Baldwin

The young think that failure is the Siberian end of the line, banishment from all the living, and tend to do what I then did – which was to hide. – James Baldwin

When one begins to live by habit and by quotation, one has begun to stop living. – James Baldwin

But the relationship between morality and power is a very subtle one. Because ultimately power without morality is no longer power. – James Baldwin

The writer’s greed is appalling. He wants or seems to want, everything and practically everybody, in another sense, and at the same time, he needs no one at all. – James Baldwin

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

We have all had the experience of finding that our reactions and perhaps even our deeds have denied beliefs we thought were ours. – James Baldwin

james baldwin quotes
Be careful what you set your heart upon – for it will surely be yours. – James Baldwin

I want to be an honest man and a good writer. – James Baldwin

The question of sexual dominance can exist only in the nightmare of that soul which has armed itself, totally, against the possibility of the changing motion of conquest and surrender, which is love. – James Baldwin

There is a ‘sanctity’ involved with bringing a child into this world: it is better than bombing one out of it. – James Baldwin

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

It is a very rare man who does not victimize the helpless. – James Baldwin

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. – James Baldwin

james baldwin quotes
People can cry much easier than they can change. – James Baldwin

Voyagers discover that the world can never be larger than the person that is in the world, but it is impossible to foresee this, it is impossible to be warned. – James Baldwin

Europe has what we do not have yet, a sense of the mysterious and inexorable limits of life, a sense, in a word, of tragedy. And we have what they sorely need: a sense of life’s possibilities. – James Baldwin

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

You know, it’s not the world that was my oppressor, because what the world does to you if the world does it to you long enough and effectively enough, you begin to do to yourself. – James Baldwin

It is very nearly impossible… to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind. – James Baldwin

The price one pays for pursuing any profession, or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side. – James Baldwin

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

james baldwin quotes
The noblest spirit is most strongly attracted by the love of glory. – James Baldwin

The face of a lover is an unknown, precisely because it is invested with so much of oneself. It is a mystery, containing, like all mysteries, the possibility of torment. – James Baldwin

A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled. – James Baldwin

It is a great shock at the age of five or six to find that in a world of Gary Coopers you are an Indian. – James Baldwin

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

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

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

There are few things more dreadful than dealing with a man who knows he is going under, in his own eyes, and in the eyes of others. Nothing can help that man. What is left of that man flees from what is left of human attention. – James Baldwin

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

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