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James A. Baldwin Quotes





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

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.
 

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

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

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.
[Against]
 

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

Be careful what you set your heart upon - for it will surely be yours.
 

But the relationship of morality and power is a very subtle one. Because ultimately power without morality is no longer power.
 

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.
[Children]
 

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.
 

Education is indoctrination, if you're white - subjugation if you're black.
[Education]
 

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.
 

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

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.
 

Experience, which destroys innocence, also leads one back to it.
[Experience]
 

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.
 

Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.
[Freedom]
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Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated, and this was an immutable law.
 

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

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.
 


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