35 Best James Baldwin Quotes Of All Time

quotes by james baldwin

Among the top voices of writing passionately about racial discrimination, spirituality, and humanity – James Baldwin, was born in 1927 in Harlem, New York, directly in the middle of the Harlem Renaissance that gave birth to the still-influential base of Dark arts and civilization.

James Baldwin grew up together with all the enthusiasm of writing and studying. Thank you for the schooling environment at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx. After graduating in 1942, he worked odd jobs and helped his family confront racial discrimination across NYC. At precisely the same time, he fought to get grappling with his heritage and realized that he was gay.

Under the stress of racial discrimination and sexual restriction on Black guys, James Baldwin participated in a writing fellowship in Paris. From this instant, his writing ability has blossomed with various purposeful racial, societal, and novelty literature productions. In the 1950s to early 1980s, masterful prose reflecting on race, homosexuality, social justice, and faith gave way to innumerable classic books, essays, poems, and short stories.

Following his death in 1987, individuals all over the world remain honored by James Balwin because of his remarkable literary effect, in addition to leaving an impressive heritage and plenty of supporting wisdom. Below Penn Book sum up some of James Baldwin Quotes on everything from life and want to racism and justice:

james baldwin quotes

James Baldwin Famous Quotes

On love

“Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within”, Baldwin wrote in his best-selling 1963 novel The Fire Next Time.

In 1961’s Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son: “Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle; love is a war; love is a growing up.

In conversations with James Baldwin, he says: “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.”

On disrespect

Baldwin said in No Name on the Street: “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.”

On perseverance

In The Paris Review, he said: “And once you realize that you can do something, it would be difficult to live with yourself if you didn’t do it.”

On victimhood

“Perhaps the turning point in one’s life is realizing that to be treated like a victim is not necessary to become one,” Baldwin said in The Paris Review.

On change

“People can cry much easier than they can change,” Baldwin told The New York Times in 1977.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced,” he said in The New York Times in 1962.

james baldwin quotes oppression

On children

“Children, not yet aware that it is dangerous to look too deeply at anything, look at everything, look at each other, and draw their conclusions,” he said in his Talk to Teachers speech.

Baldwin wrote in Nobody Knows My Name: “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. They must; they have no other models.”

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On justice

“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have”, Baldwin wrote in his essay No Name in the Street.

“In No Name on the Street, he wrote, “If one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country, one does not question the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, or the protected members of the middle class. One goes to the unprotected—those, precisely, who need the law’s protection most!—and listens to their testimony.”

On being gay in America

“You have to go the way your blood beats. If you don’t live the only life you have, you won’t live some other life, you won’t live any life at all” the novelist told The Village Voice in 1984.

On Black people in America

“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time,” Baldwin said in a 1961 radio interview.

On America

“I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually,” the novelist wrote in Notes of a Native Son.

On his work

“All I’ve ever wanted to do is tell that I’m not trying to solve anybody’s problems, not even my own. I’m just trying to outline what the problems are,” Baldwin said in a May 1963 profile in Life Magazine.

On society

In The Fire Next Time, he wrote, “The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.”

On artists

“A society must assume that it is stable, but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven,” Baldwin wrote in his 1962 essay The Creative Process.

On education

In his 1963 Talk to Teachers speech, he said, “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.”

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quotes from james baldwin

On indifference

“Neither love nor terror makes one blind: indifference makes one blind” he wrote in If Beale Street Could Talk.

On reading

He told Life magazine in 1963: “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. “

“I often wonder what I’d do if there weren’t any books in the world,” Baldwin wrote in his novel Giovanni’s Room.”

On having a career

In The Price of a Ticket, he reflected: “The price one pays for pursuing any profession or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side”

On success

In Notes of a Native Son, he wrote, “Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.”

On writing

He told The Paris Review: “The whole language of writing for me is finding out what you don’t want to know, what you don’t want to find out. But something forces you to anyway.”

On the importance of writers

In the New York Times, he said: “Writers are critical people in a country, whether or not the country knows it.”

On law and order

In 1972’s No Name on the Street, he wrote: “Does the law exist to further the ambitions of those who have sworn to uphold the law, or is it seriously to be considered as a moral, unifying force, the health and strength of a nation?”

On belief

“The betrayal of a belief is not the same thing as ceasing to believe,” Baldwin wrote in Harper’s Magazine in 1953.

On the unknown

In 1961 he said, “Most of us, no matter what we say, are walking in the dark, whistling in the dark. Nobody knows what is going to happen to him from one moment to the next or how one will bear it.”

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On oppression

In The Fire Next Time, he says, “Whatever white people do not know about Negroes reveals, precisely and inexorably, what they do not know about themselves.”

On hate

Baldwin wrote in Notes of a Native Son, “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.”

On poverty

“Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.” — from “Fifth Avenue, Uptown,” published July 1960 in Esquire

On money

Baldwin wrote in a 1961 Esquire essay: “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.”

On learning

“The more one indeed learns, the less one knows,” he told The Paris Review.

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Which quotes are you interested in most, feel free to show them to us in the comment below.

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