James Baldwin Quotes

Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.

James Baldwin

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

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

Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.

James Baldwin

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. This is irreducible. And it is true of everybody. Now, it is true that the nature of society is to create, among its citizens, an illusion of safety; but it is also absolutely true that the safety is always necessarily an illusion. Artists are here to disturb the peace.

James Baldwin

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

James Baldwin

It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.

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

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

The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions which have been hidden by the answers.

James Baldwin

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

James Baldwin

Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.

James Baldwin

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

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

James Baldwin

Everything in life depends on how that life accepts its limits.

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

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