Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
Identity would seem to be the garment with which one covers the nakedness of the self, in which case, it is best that the garment be loose, a little like the robes of the desert, through which one's nakedness can always be felt, and sometimes, discerned.
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.
Confusion is a luxury which only the very, very young can possibly afford and you are not that young anymore.
Everybody's journey is individual. You 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.
I can't be a pessimist because I'm alive. To be a pessimist means that you have agreed that human life is an academic matter.
I can't be a pessimist because I am alive. To be a pessimist means that you have agreed that human life is an academic matter. So, I am forced to be an optimist. I am forced to believe that we can survive, whatever we must survive.
I imagine that one of the reasons that people cling to their hate and prejudice so stubbornly, is that they sense that once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with their own pain.
This is the only real concern of the artist, to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art.
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.
Yet one must also recognize that morality is based on ideas and that all ideas are dangerous -- dangerous because ideas can only lead to action and where the action leads no man can say.
A child cannot, thank Heaven, know how vast and how merciless is the nature of power, with what unbelievable cruelty people treat each other.
The mind is like an object that picks up dust. The object doesn't know, any more than the mind does, why what clings to it clings.
There is often something beautiful, there is always something awful, in the spectacle of a a person who has lost one of his faculties, a faculty he never questioned until it was gone, and who struggles to recover it. Yet people remain people, on crutches or indeed on deathbeds.
I moved, looking for a cigarette. They were in my hand. I lit one. In a moment, I thought, I will say something. I will say something and then I will walk out of this room forever.
That was how I met her, in a bar in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, she was drinking and watching, and that was why I liked her, I thought she would be fun to have fun with.
Goddammit to hell, I'm sick of it. Can't I get a place to sleep without dragging it through the courts? I'm goddamn tired of battling every Tom, Dick, and Harry for what everyone else takes for granted. I'm tired!
Nakedness has no color: this can come as news only to those who have never covered, or been covered by, another naked human being.
No one is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart: for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.
A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled. A child cannot be taught by anyone whose demand, essentially, is that the child repudiate his experience, and all that gives him sustenance.
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.
He sat in an armchair, overlooking a foreign sea, still struggling to find the grace which would allow him to bear that revelation. For the meaning of revelation is that what is revealed is true, and must be borne.
To smash something is the ghetto's chronic need. Most of the time it is the members of the ghetto who smash each other, and themselves. But as long as the ghetto walls are standing there will always come a moment when these outlets do not work.
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.
A mob is not autonomous: it executes the real will of the people who rule the State. The slaughter in Birmingham, Alabama, for example, was not merely the action of a mob.
I sometimes think, with despair, that Americans will swallow whole any political speech whatever--we've been doing very little else, these last, bad years.
Because I was raised in a Christian culture I never considered myself to be a totally free human being.
It is one thing to overthrow a dictator or to repel and invader and quite another thing really to achieve a revolution.
It's funny about people. Just before something happens, you almost know what it is. You do know what it is, I believe. You just haven't had the time--and now you won't have the time--to say it to yourself.
In any event, the sloppy and fatuous nature of American good will can never be relied upon to deal with hard problems. These have been dealt with, when they have been dealt with at all, out of necessity--and in political terms, anyway, necessity means concessions made in order to stay on top.
For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.
For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.
His touch could never fail to make me feel desire; yet his hot, sweet breath also made me want to vomit.
Allegiance, after all, has to work two ways; and one can grow weary of an allegiance which is not reciprocal.
Elijah Muhammad himself has now been carrrying the same message for more than thirty years; he is not an overnight sensation, and we owe his ministry, I am told, to the fact that when he was a child of six or so, his father was lynched before his eyes. (So much for states' rights.).
Pessimists are the people who have no hope for themselves or for others. Pessimists are also people who think the human race is beneath their notice, that they're better than other human beings.
The question is really a kind of apathy and ignorance, which is the price we pay for segregation. That's what segregation means. You don't know what's happening on the other side of the wall, because you don't want to know.
It is rare indeed that people give. Most people guard and keep; they suppose that it is they themselves and what they identify with themselves that they are guarding and keeping, whereas what they are actually guarding and keeping is their system of reality and what they assume themselves to be.
He wanted me to come home -- to come home, as he said, and settle down, and whenever he said that I thought of the sediment at the bottom of a stagnant pond.
It is quite possible to say that the price a Negro pays for becoming articulate is to find himself, at length, with nothing to be articulate about. (You taught me language, says Caliban to Prospero, and my profit on't is I know how to curse.).
So what can we really do for each other except -- just love each other and be each other's witness? And haven't we got the right to hope -- for more? So that we can really stretch into whoever we really are?
I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am, also, much more than that. So are we all.
She fitted in my arms, she always had, and the shock of holding her caused me to feel that my arms had been empty since she had been away.
People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state on innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.
Precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience you must find yourself at war with your society.
We do not trust educated people and rarely, alas, produce them, for we do not trust the independence of mind which alone makes a genuine education possible.
The victim who is able to articulate the situation of the victim has ceased to be a victim: he or she has become a threat.
The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.
We are responsible for the world in which we find ourselves, if only because we are the only sentient force which can change it.
If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, re-created from the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow sign. No more water, fire next time.
A civilization is not destroyed by wicked people; it is not necessary that people be wicked but only that they be spineless.
You have to go the way your blood beats. If you don't live the only life you have, you won't live some other life, you won't live any life at all.
The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don't see.
I must--to be honest--add that my ministry almost certainly helped me through my adolescence by giving me something larger than myself to be frightened about.
He was waiting, I think, for me to cross that space and take him in my arms again--waiting, as one waits at a deathbed for the miracle one dare not disbelieve, which will not happen.
Maybe everything bad that happens to you makes you weaker, said Giovanni, as though he had not heard me, and so you can stand less and less.
Whereas Jesus and his disciples were distrusted by the state largely because they respected the poor and shared everything, the fundamentalists of the present hour would appear not to know that the poor exist.
You can not describe anything without betraying your point of view, your aspirations, your fears, your hopes. Everything.
Beneath these faces, these clothes, accents, rudeness, was power and sorrow, both unadmitted, unrealized, the power of inventors, the sorrow of the disconnected.
On each piece of paper I found addresses, telephone numbers, memos of various rendezvous made and kept--or perhaps not kept--people met and remembered, or perhaps not remembered, hopes probably not fulfilled: certainly not fulfilled, or I would not have been standing on that street corner.
Since we live in an age in which silence is not only criminal but suicidal, I have been making as much noise as I can, here in Europe, on radio and television--in fact, have just returned from a land, Germany, which was made notorious by a silent majority not so very long ago.
Much has been written of love turning to hatred, of the heart growing cold with the death of love. It is a remarkable process. It is far more terrible than anything I have ever read about it, more terrible than anything I will ever be able to say.
No curtain under heaven is heavier than that curtain of guilt and lies behind which white Americans hide.
But I felt that it was my heart which was broken. Something had broken in me to make me so cold and so perfectly still and far away.
People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them. Civil Rights activist, author, and critic James Baldwin was born on#ThisDayinHistory 1924.
For here you were, Big James, named for me--you were a big baby, I was not--here you were, to be loved. To be loved, baby, hard, at once, and forever, to strengthen you against the loveless world.
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