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quotations The Best James Baldwin Quotes  

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A list of the best James Baldwin quotes. This list is arranged by which famous James Baldwin quotes have received the most votes, so only the greatest James Baldwin quotes are at the top of the list. All the most popular quotes from James Baldwin should be listed here, but if any were missed you can add more at the end of the list. This list includes notable James Baldwin quotes on various subjects, many of which are inspirational and thought provoking.

This list answers the questions, "What are the best James Baldwin quotes?" and "What is the most famous James Baldwin quote?"

You can see what subjects these historic James Baldwin quotes fall under displayed to the right of the quote. Be sure to vote so your favorite James Baldwin saying won't fall to the bottom of the list.

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

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Words like freedom, justice, democracy are not common concepts; on the contrary, they are rare. People are not born knowing what these are. It takes enormous and, above all, individual effort to arrive at the respect for other people that these words imply. James Baldwin

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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

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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

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It is very nearly impossible... to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind. James Baldwin

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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

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

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People can cry much easier than they can change. James Baldwin

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Christianity has operated with an unmitigated arrogance and cruelty -- necessarily, since a religion ordinarily imposes on those who have discovered the true faith the spiritual duty of liberating the infidels. James Baldwin

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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

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Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. James Baldwin

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

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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

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The future is... black. James Baldwin

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

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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

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If the relationship of father to son could really be reduced to biology, the whole earth would blaze with the glory of fathers and sons. James Baldwin

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Experience is a private, and a very largely speechless affair. James Baldwin

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An identity is questioned only when it is menaced, as when the mighty begin to fall, or when the wretched begin to rise, or when the stranger enters the gates, never, thereafter, to be a stranger. Identity would seem to be the garment with which one covers the nakedness of the self: in which case, it is best that the garment be loose, a little like the robes of the desert, through which one's nakedness can always be felt, and, sometimes, discerned. This trust in one's nakedness is all that gives one the power to change one's robes. James Baldwin

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We cannot discuss the state of our minorities until we first have some sense of what we are, who we are, what our goals are, and what we take life to be. The question is not what we can do now for the hypothetical Mexican, the hypothetical Negro. The question is what we really want out of life, for ourselves, what we think is real. James Baldwin

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No one is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart: for his purity, by definition, is unassailable. James Baldwin

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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

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michaelj72 added You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can't, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world. The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even but a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.

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If you're treated a certain way you become a certain kind of person. If certain things are described to you as being real they're real for you whether they're real or not. James Baldwin

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michaelj72 added The American idea of racial progress is measured by how fast I become white.

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He may be a very nice man. But I haven't got the time to figure that out. All I know is, he's got a uniform and a gun and I have to relate to him that way. That's the only way to relate to him because one of us may have to die. James Baldwin

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

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The moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out. James Baldwin

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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. James Baldwin

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

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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

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It is a very rare man who does not victimize the helpless. James Baldwin

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A platitude is simply a truth repeated till people get tired of hearing it. James Baldwin

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

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Any honest examination of the national life proves how far we are from the standard of human freedom with which we began. The recovery of this standard demands of everyone who loves this country a hard look at himself, for the greatest achievements must begin somewhere, and they always begin with the person. If we are not capable of this examination, we may yet become one of the most distinguished and monumental failures in the history of nations. James Baldwin

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michaelj72 added 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.

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The American ideal, after all, is that everyone should be as much alike as possible. James Baldwin

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When the book comes out it may hurt you -- but in order for me to do it, it had to hurt me first. I can only tell you about yourself as much as I can face about myself. James Baldwin

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

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Rage cannot be hidden, it can only be dissembled. This dissembling deludes the thoughtless, and strengthens rage and adds, to rage, contempt. James Baldwin

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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. James Baldwin

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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

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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. James Baldwin

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

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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

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Americans, unhappily, have the most remarkable ability to alchemize all bitter truths into an innocuous but piquant confection and to transform their moral contradictions, or public discussion of such contradictions, into a proud decoration, such as are given for heroism on the battle field. James Baldwin

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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. James Baldwin

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

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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

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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