James Arthur Baldwin

James Arthur Baldwin

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.

There is a "sanctity" involved with bringing a child into this world: it is better than bombing one out of it.

No people come into possession of a culture without having paid a heavy price for it.

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

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 sensual I think is to respect and rejoice in the force of life of life itself and to be present in all that one does from the effort of loving to the making of bread.

It is certain in any case that ignorance allied with power is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.

There are few things more dreadful than dealing with a man who knows he is going under in his own eyes and in the eyes of others. Nothing can help that man. What is left of that man flees from what is left of human attention.

To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger.

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.

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.

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.

When a man asks himself what is meant by action he proves that he isn't a man of action. Action is a lack of balance. In order to act you must be somewhat insane. A reasonably sensible man is satisfied with thinking.

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

There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment, the time is always now.

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