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James A. Baldwin Quotes


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No people come into possession of a culture without having paid a heavy price for it.
 

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

Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch.
[Adversity]
 

People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.
[History]
 

People can cry much easier than they can change.
[Change]
 

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.
 

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.
 

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.
 

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.
 

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

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.
 

The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.
 

The noblest spirit is most strongly attracted by the love of glory.
 

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

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.
 

The power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world's definitions.
 

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

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.
 

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.
[Against]
 

The questions which one asks oneself begin, at least, to illuminate the world, and become one's key to the experience of others.
[Begin]
 


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