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|Quotations by James Baldwin|
|You think your pain is unprecedented - You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.|
Distrust of the independent mind - It is very nearly impossible to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.
People pay for what they do - 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 whole root of our trouble - 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, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death--ought to decide, indeed, to earn one's death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life.
The most dangerous creation. . . - The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.
To accept one's past. . . - 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.
Children never fail to imitate their elders - Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. They must, they have no other models.
Treating others as less than human - 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.
The concept of God - If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.
Freedom is not given - Freedom is not something that anybody can be given; freedom is something people take and people are as free as they want to be.
The flag and allegiance - It comes as a great shock around the age of 5, 6 or 7 to discover that the flag to which you have pledged allegiance, along with everybody else, has not pledged allegiance to you. It comes as a great shock to see Gary Cooper killing off the Indians and, although you are rooting for Gary Cooper, that the Indians are you.
Identity of the Negro in America - Despite the terrorization which the Negro in America endured and endures sporadically, despite the cruel and totaly inescapable ambivalence of his status in this country, the battle for his identity has long ago been won. He is not a visitor to the West, but a citizen there, an American.
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