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James A. Baldwin Quotes


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The reason people think it's important to be white is that they think it's important not to be black.
 

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

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.
 

The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.
 

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.
 

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.
 

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.
[Attention]
 

There is a "sanctity" involved with bringing a child into this world: it is better than bombing one out of it.
 

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

This world is white no longer, and it will never be white again.
 

Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.
 

To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger.
 

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

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.
 

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.
 

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

We take our shape, it is true, within and against that cage of reality bequeathed us at our birth, and yet it is precisely through our dependence on this reality that we are most endlessly betrayed.
[Reality]
 

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.
[Action]
 

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

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.
[Begin]
 


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