1924-1987, American Author
It is rare indeed that people give. Most people guard and keep; they suppose that it is they themselves and what they identify with themselves that they are guarding and keeping, whereas what they are actually guarding and keeping is their system of reality and what they assume themselves to be.
James Baldwin – [Giving]
It is very nearly impossible… to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.
James Baldwin – [Education]
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 – [Money]
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.
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 – [Prediction]
No one is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart: for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.
James Baldwin – [Purity]
Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
People can cry much easier than they can change.
People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.
James Baldwin – [Innocence]
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 – [Abuse]
Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have.
James Baldwin – [Death and Dying]
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 – [Pessimism]
Rage cannot be hidden, it can only be dissembled. This dissembling deludes the thoughtless, and strengthens rage and adds, to rage, contempt.
James Baldwin – [Anger]
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 – [Society]
The American ideal of sexuality appears to be rooted in the American ideal of masculinity. This idea has created cowboys and Indians, good guys and bad guys, punks and studs, tough guys and softies, butch and faggot, black and white. It is an ideal so paralytically infantile that it is virtually forbidden — as an unpatriotic act — that the American boy evolve into the complexity of manhood.
James Baldwin – [Sexuality]
The American ideal, after all, is that everyone should be as much alike as possible.
James Baldwin – [Conformity]
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 – [Multiculturalism]
The future is… black.
James Baldwin – [Future]
The greatest significance of the present student generation is that it is through them that the point of view of the subjugated is finally and inexorably being expressed.
James Baldwin – [Students]
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 – [Immigration]