James Baldwin quotes

Born
August 2, 1924 New York City, New York, U.S.

Died
December 1, 1987.

Occupation
Writer.

James Baldwin was an American novelist and social critic. His essays, as collected in Notes of a Native Son (1955), explore intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th-century America.

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
Education is indoctrination if you’re white – subjugation if you’re black.
– 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
Be careful what you set your heart upon – for it will surely be yours.
– James Baldwin
The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.
– James Baldwin
The future is like heaven, everyone exalts it, but no one wants to go there now.
– James Baldwin
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.
– 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
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
It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.
– 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
Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.
– 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 the lives they lead.
– 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
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
Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.
– 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
People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.
– James Baldwin
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
Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.
– 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
The power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world’s definitions.
– 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
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
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
American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.
– James Baldwin