150 James Baldwin Quotes on the Demand for Equality - Wishes Disney

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Tuesday, July 13, 2021

150 James Baldwin Quotes on the Demand for Equality

One of the greatest writers of the 20th century, James Arthur Baldwin blazed the trail of new literary grounds on racial and social issues. This significant American author, playwright, poet and essayist was to impact the civil rights movement. Born in New York City, August 2, 1924, he spent a lot of his time in libraries from an early age to avoid the harshness of his stepfather. Having been published in major prestigious magazines like The New Yorker and Harper’s led his way to later join the Congress of Racial Equality and travel across the American South lecturing views of racial inequality. It was in the early ’60s that the mainstream press recognized his incisive analysis of white racism and Time magazine featured him on the cover.

James Baldwin spoke of the pain and struggle of black Americans and his work deals with racial and sexual issues in the mid-20th century. His fight brought him together with famous actors like Charlton Heston and Marlon Brando on the March in Washington in 1963 and with other believers of equal rights such as Martin Luther King. His death in 1987 only inspired even more people to read his books and pay even closer attention to his words. This remarkable selection of quotes showcase a true believer in an equally better tomorrow for all, a goal yet to be achieved.

Best James Baldwin Quotes

  • Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it. James Baldwin
  • The point is to get your work done, and your work is to change the world. James Baldwin
  • The impossible is the least that one can demand. James Baldwin
  • The interior life is a real life, and the intangible dreams of people have a tangible effect on the world. James Baldwin
  • I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do. James Baldwin
  • Yr crown has been bought and paid for. All you have to do is put it on yr head. James Baldwin
  • Whoever debases others is debasing himself. James Baldwin
Famous James Baldwin Quote.

Whoever debases others is debasing himself. James Baldwin

 

Famous James Baldwin Quote.

Yr crown has been bought and paid for. All you have to do is put it on yr head. James Baldwin

  • Time could not be bought. The only coin time accepted was life. James Baldwin
  • You don’t realize that you’re intelligent until it gets you into trouble. James Baldwin
  • To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger. James Baldwin
  • Nothing is more unbearable, once one has it, than freedom. James Baldwin
  • The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose. James Baldwin
  • You took the best, so why not take the rest? James Baldwin
  • Neither love nor terror makes one blind: indifference makes one blind. James Baldwin
  • This world is white no longer, and it will never be white again. James Baldwin
  • The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I make it. James Baldwin
  • … ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have. James Baldwin
  • There is a fearful splendor in absolute desolation. James Baldwin
  • Great art can only be created out of love. James Baldwin
  • The power to define the other seals one’s definition of oneself. James Baldwin
  • Hatred is always self hatred, and there is something suicidal about it. James Baldwin
  • Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced. James Baldwin
Famous James Baldwin Quote.

This world is white no longer, and it will never be white again. James Baldwin

  • Color is not a human or a personal reality; it is a political reality. James Baldwin
  • You’ve got to tell the world how to treat you. If the world tells you how you are going to be treated, you are in trouble. James Baldwin
  • Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition. James Baldwin
  • We’re all bastards. That’s why we need our friends. James Baldwin
  • You face reality, not the lights. The lights go off as quickly as they come on. James Baldwin
  • The moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out. James Baldwin
  • … what men imagine they are doing and what they are doing in fact are rarely the same thing. James Baldwin
  • When a dark face opens, light seems to go everywhere. James Baldwin
  • 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
  • With everything in me screaming No! yet the sum of me sighed Yes. James Baldwin
  • History is not a procession of illustrious people. It’s about what happens to a people. Millions of anonymous people is what history is about. James Baldwin
  • The price one pays for pursuing any profession or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side. James Baldwin
  • I am what time, circumstance, and history have made of me, certainly, but I am also much more than that. So are we all. James Baldwin
  • I conceive of God, in fact, as a means of liberation and not a means to control others. James Baldwin
  • Everything in life depends on how that life accepts its limits. James Baldwin
  • The writer’s only real task: to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art. James Baldwin
  • You read something which you thought only happened to you, and you discovered it happened years ago to Dostoyevsky. James Baldwin
  • The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers. James Baldwin
  • The hope of the world lies in what one demands, not of others, but of oneself. James Baldwin

 

James Baldwin Quotes about Oppression

  • A ghetto can be improved in one way only: out of existence. James Baldwin
  • When human rights are abused on a grand scale, the broth of purity boils and feeds the rebellion of a new order. James Baldwin
  • This innocent country set you down in a ghetto in which, in fact, it intended that you should perish. James Baldwin
  • Not only was I not born to be a slave; I was not born to hope to become the equal of the slave master. James Baldwin
  • Wash me, cried the slave to his Maker, and I shall be whiter, whiter than snow! James Baldwin
  • People who have been wronged will attempt to right the wrong; they would not be people if they didn’t. James Baldwin
  • To be born in a free society and not to be born free is to be born into a lie. To be told that you have no value, no history, have never done anything that is worthy of human respect destroys you because in the beginning you believe it. James Baldwin
  • We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist. James Baldwin
  • The South is very beautiful, but its beauty makes one sad because the lives that people live here, and have lived here, are so ugly. James Baldwin

 

Inspirational James Baldwin Quotes

  • There is never a 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
  • You have to decide who you are and force the world to deal with you, not with its idea of you. James Baldwin
  • Be careful what you set your heart upon – for it will surely be yours. James Baldwin
  • You write in order to change the world … if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it. James Baldwin
  • One must say Yes to life and embrace it wherever it is found—and it is found in terrible places; nevertheless, there it is. James Baldwin
  • Take no one’s word for anything, including mine – but trust your experience. James Baldwin
  • Drive to the heart of every answer and expose the question the answer hides. James Baldwin
Famous James Baldwin Quote.

Take no one’s word for anything, including mine – but trust your experience. James Baldwin

  • There’s no way not to suffer. But you try all kinds of ways to keep from drowning in it. James Baldwin
  • True rebels after all, are as rare as true lovers and, in both cases, to mistake a fever for passion can destroy one’s life. James Baldwin
  • The future is like heaven – everyone exalts it but no one wants to go there now. James Baldwin
  • The question of identity is a question involving the most profound panic—a terror as primary as the nightmare of the mortal fall. James Baldwin
  • The past is what makes the present coherent, and the past will remain horrible for exactly as long as we refuse to assess it honestly. James Baldwin
  • Folks can change their ways much as they want to. But I don’t care how many times you change your ways, what’s in you is in you, and it’s got to come out. James Baldwin
  • For these are all our children, we will all profit by or pay for what they become. James Baldwin

 

James Baldwin Quotes on Love

  • Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. James Baldwin
  • It’s a miracle to realize that somebody loves you. James Baldwin
  • …not many people have ever died of love. But multitudes have perished, and are perishing every hour… – for the lack of it. James Baldwin
  • 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. James Baldwin
  • Love him and let him love you. Do you think anything else under heaven really matters? James Baldwin
  • I loved her as much as ever and I still did not know how much that was. James Baldwin
  • …love brought you here. If you trusted love this far, don’t panic now. James Baldwin
  • He grins again, and everything inside me moves. Oh, love. Love. James Baldwin
  • There is nothing more boring, anyway, than sexual activity as an end in itself, and a great many people who came out of the closet should reconsider. James Baldwin
Famous James Baldwin Quote.

Love him and let him love you. Do you think anything else under heaven really matters? 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
  • Love is like the lightning, and your maturity is signaled by the extent to which you can accept the dangers and the power and the beauty of love. James Baldwin
  • Everyone wishes to be loved, but in the event, nearly no one can bear it. Everyone desires love but also finds it impossible to believe that he deserves it. James Baldwin
  • I wish to God I may die if I don’t love you. There ain’t no sky above us if I don’t love you. James Baldwin
  • Love was a country he knew nothing about. James Baldwin
  • People always seem to band together in accordance to a principle that has nothing to do with love, a principle that releases them from personal responsibility. James Baldwin
  • People can’t, unhappily, invent their mooring posts, their lovers and their friends, anymore than they can invent their parents. Life gives these and also takes them away and the great difficulty is to say Yes to life. James Baldwin
  • Remember, to hate, to be violent, is demeaning. It means you’re afraid of the other side of the coin — to love and be loved. James Baldwin
  • The face of a lover is an unknown, precisely because it is invested so much within oneself. It is a mystery, containing, like all mysteries, the possibility of torment. James Baldwin

 

James Baldwin Quotes on Race

  • The white man needs the nigger because he cannot tolerate the nigger in himself. James Baldwin
  • The people who think of themselves as White have the choice of becoming human or irrelevant. James Baldwin
  • The American idea of racial progress is measured by how fast I become white. James Baldwin
  • I would not allow myself to be defined by other people, white or black. James Baldwin
  • Each of us, helplessly and forever, contains the other-male in female, female in male, white in black, and black in white. We are part of each other. James Baldwin
  • The American Negro is a unique creation; he has no counterpart anywhere, and no predecessors. James Baldwin
  • Whatever white people do not know about Negroes reveals, precisely and inexorably, what they do not know about themselves. James Baldwin
  • The power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world’s definitions. James Baldwin
  • At bottom, to be colored means that one has been caught in some utterly unbelievable cosmic joke, a joke so hideous and in such bad taste that it defeats all categories and definitions. James Baldwin
  • It is not a racial problem. It is a problem of whether or not you’re willing to look at your life and be responsible for it, and then begin to change it. 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
  • All racists are irresponsible. James Baldwin
Famous James Baldwin Quote.

The American Negro is a unique creation; he has no counterpart anywhere, and no predecessors. James Baldwin

  • For the horrors of the American Negro’s life there has been almost no language. James Baldwin
  • The reason people think it’s important to be white is that they think it’s important not to be black. James Baldwin
  • An American Negro, however deep his sympathies, or however bright his rage, ceases to be simply a black man when he faces a black man from Africa. James Baldwin
  • The price of the liberation of the white people is the liberation of the blacks—the total liberation, in the cities, in the towns, before the law, and in the mind. James Baldwin
  • The root of the black man’s hatred is rage, and he does not so much hate white men as simply wants them out of his way, and, more than that, out of his children’s way. James Baldwin
  • It is dangerous to be an American Negro male. America has never wanted its Negroes to be men, and does not, generally, treat them as men. It treats them as mascots, pets, or things. James Baldwin
  • The brutality with which Negroes are treated in this country simply cannot be overstated, however unwilling white men may be to hear it. James Baldwin
  • Therefore, whatever white people do not know about Negroes reveals, precisely and inexorably, what they do not know about themselves. James Baldwin

 

James Baldwin Quotes on Education

  • A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled. James Baldwin
  • Education is indoctrination if you’re white – subjugation if you’re black. James Baldwin
  • Those kids aren’t dumb. But the people who run these schools want to make sure they don’t get smart: they are really teaching the kids to be slaves. 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
  • It is your responsibility to change the society if you think yourself as an educated person. James Baldwin
Famous James Baldwin Quote.

I would not allow myself to be defined by other people, white or black. James Baldwin

  • Trust life, and it will teach you, in joy and sorrow, all you need to know. James Baldwin
  • It is very nearly impossible… to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind. James Baldwin
  • The purpose of education…is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions. James Baldwin
  • Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. James Baldwin
  • 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

 

James Baldwin’s Most Famous Quotes

  • One cannot deny the humanity of another without diminishing one’s own. James Baldwin
  • People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction. James Baldwin
  • The world is mostly divided between madmen who remember and madmen who forget. Heroes are rare. James Baldwin
  • When one begins to live by habit and by quotation, one has begun to stop living. James Baldwin
  • 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. James Baldwin
  • People are not terribly anxious to be equal (equal, after all, to what and to whom?) but they love the idea of being superior. James Baldwin
  • There are few things under heaven more unnerving than the silent, accumulating contempt and hatred of a people. James Baldwin
  • A liberal: someone who thinks he knows more about your experience than you do. James Baldwin
  • The American soil is full of corpses of my ancestors– through years and at least three wars. Why is my freedom, my citizenship, in question now? James Baldwin
  • Precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience, you must find yourself at war with your society. James Baldwin
  • History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history. If we pretend otherwise, we are literally criminals. James Baldwin
  • People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them. James Baldwin
  • The real victim of bigotry is the white man who hides his weakness under his myth of superiority. James Baldwin
  • The details and symbols of your life have been deliberately constructed to make you believe what white people say about you. James Baldwin
  • Books taught me that things that tormented me the most were the very things that connected me to everyone who is alive and who had ever been alive. James Baldwin
  • …it is one thing to overthrow a dictator or repel an invader and quite another thing really to achieve a revolution. James Baldwin
  • Every society is really governed by hidden laws, by unspoken but profound assumptions on the part of the people, and ours is no exception. James Baldwin
  • You know, and I know, that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon. James Baldwin
  • No curtain under heaven is heavier than that curtain of guilt and lies behind which white Americans hide. James Baldwin
  • Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart; for his purity, by definition, is unassailable. James Baldwin
  • It is a great shock at the age of five or six to find that in a world of Gary Coopers you are the Indian. James Baldwin
  • The trouble with a secret life is that it is very frequently a secret from the person who lives it and not at all a secret for the people he encounters. James Baldwin
  • Whoever is born in New York is ill-equipped to deal with any other city: all other cities seem, at best, a mistake, and, at worst, a fraud. No other city is so spitefully incoherent. James Baldwin

 

James Baldwin Insightful Quotes

  • You don’t know what’s happening on the other side of the wall, because you don’t want to know. James Baldwin
  • A man is not a man until he’s able and willing to accept his own vision of the world, no matter how radically this vision departs from that of others. James Baldwin
  • You cannot describe anything without betraying your point of view, your aspirations, your fears, your hopes. Everything. James Baldwin
  • … the root function of language is to control the universe by describing it. James Baldwin
  • You don’t have a home until you leave it and then, when you have left it, you never can go back. James Baldwin
  • Confusion is a luxury which only the very, very young can possibly afford. James Baldwin
  • Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor. James Baldwin
  • America sometimes resembles, at least from the point of view of a black man, an exceedingly monotonous minstrel show; the same dances, same music, same jokes. One has done (or been) the show so long that one can do it in one’s own sleep. James Baldwin
  • For all policemen were bright enough to know who they were working for, and they were not working, anywhere in the world, for the powerless. James Baldwin
  • To accept one’s past—one’s history—is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it. An invented past can never be used; it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought. James Baldwin
  • Words like ‘freedom’, ‘justice’ and ‘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
  • We take our shape, it is true, within and against that cage of reality bequeathed us at our birth; and yet it is precisely through our dependence on this reality that we are most endlessly betrayed. James Baldwin
  • They were so free that they believed in nothing; and didn’t realize that this illusion was their only truth and that they were doing exactly as they had been told. James Baldwin

 

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