James Baldwin Quotes

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

The price one pays for pursuing any profession or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.

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

It is true that two wrongs don't make a right, as we love to point out to the people we have wronged. But one wrong doesn't make a right, either. People who have been wronged will attempt to right the wrong; they would not be people if they didn't. They can rarely afford to be scrupulous about the means they will use. They will use such means as come to hand. Neither, in the main, will they distinguish one oppressor from another, nor see through to the root principle of their oppression.

James Baldwin

It will be a great day for America, incidentally, when we begin to eat bread again, instead of the blasphemous and tasteless foam rubber that we have substituted for it. And I am not being frivolous here, either. Something very sinister happens to the people of a country when they begin to distrust their own reactions as deeply as they do here, and become as joyless as they have become.

James Baldwin

If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.

James Baldwin

When the South has trouble with its Negroes when the Negroes refuse to remain in their "place" it blames "outside agitators" and "Northern interference." When the nation has trouble with the Northern Negro, it blames the Kremlin.

James Baldwin

You don't realize that you're intelligent until it gets you into trouble.

James Baldwin

I have never seen myself as a spokesman. I am a witness. In the church in which I was raised you were supposed to bear witness to the truth. Now, later on, you wonder what in the world the truth is, but you do know what a lie is.

James Baldwin

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 laws protection most! and listens to their testimony.

James Baldwin

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

James Baldwin

Whatever white people do not know about Negroes reveals, precisely and inexorably, what they do not know about themselves.

James Baldwin

I do not know many Negroes who are eager to be "accepted" by white people, still less to be loved by them; they, the blacks, simply don't wish to be beaten over the head by the whites every instant of our brief passage on this planet. White people will have quite enough to do in learning how to accept and love themselves and each other, and when they have achieved this which will not be tomorrow and may very well be never the Negro problem will no longer exist, for it will no longer be needed.

James Baldwin

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

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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