James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic. His essays, as collected in Notes of a Native Son (1955), explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th-century America.
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The power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world's definitions.
No people come into possession of a culture without having paid a heavy price for it.
The face of a lover is an unknown precisely because it is invested with so much of oneself. It is a mystery containing like all mysteries the possibility of torment.
The future is like heaven everyone exalts it but no one wants to go there now.
To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.
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.
People pay for what they do and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply, by the lives they lead.
The questions which one asks oneself begin at least to illuminate the world and become one's key to the experience of others.
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.
No one can possibly know what is about to happen: it is happening each time for the first time for the only time.