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James Baldwin, fully James Arthur Baldwin

(1924 - 1987)

Biography:

American Writer, Novelist, Essayist, Playwright, Poet, Activist and Social Critic

Quotes
A big, sandy-haired man held his daughter on his shoulders, showing her the Statue of Liberty. I would never know what this statue meant to others, she had always been an ugly joke for me. And the American flag was flying from the top of the ship, above my head. I had seen the French flag drive the French into the most unspeakable frenzies, I had seen the flag which was nominally mine used to dignify the vilest purposes: now I would never, as long as I lived, know what other saw when they saw a flag.
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 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.
A child cannot, thank Heaven, know how vast and how merciless is the nature of power, with what unbelievable cruelty people treat each other.
A country is only as good? only as strong as the people who make it up and the country turns into what the people want it to become? I don?t believe any longer that we can afford to say that it is entirely out of our hands. We made the world we?re living in and we have to make it over.
A devotion to humanity... is too easily equated with a devotion to a Cause, and Causes, as we know, are notoriously bloodthirsty... Freedom is not something anybody can be given, freedom is something people take.
A mob cannot afford to doubt: that the Jews killed Christ or that niggers want to rape their sisters or that anyone who fails to make it in the land of the free and the home of the brave deserves to be wretched. But these ideas do not come from the mob. They come from the state, which creates and manipulates the mob. The idea of a black persons as property, for example, does not come from the mob. It is not a spontaneous idea. It does not come from the people, who knew better, who thought nothing of intermarriage until they were penalized for it: this idea comes from the architects of the American State. These architects decided that the concept of Property was more important?more real?than the possibilities of the human being.
A person does not lightly elect to oppose his society. One would much rather be at home among one's compatriots than be mocked and detested by them. And there is a level on which the mockery of people, even their hatred, is moving, because it is so blind: It is terrible to watch people cling to their captivity and insist on their own destruction.
A platitude is simply a truth repeated till people get tired of hearing it.
A real decision makes one humble, one knows that it is at the mercy of more things that can be named.