James Arthur Baldwin

United States author who was an outspoken critic of racism (1924-1987)

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Be careful what you set your heart upon - for it will surely be yours.
Beyond talent lie all the usual words discipline, love, luck -- but, most of all, endurance.
Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.
Europe has what we do not have yet, a sense of the mysterious and inexorable limits of life, a sense, in a word, of tragedy. And we have what they sorely need a sense of life's possibilities.
Freedom is not something that anybody can be given Freedom is something that people take and people are as free as they want to be.
I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.
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. This trust in one's nakedness is all that gives one the power to change one's robes.
Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.
Money, it turned out, was exactly like sex, you thought of nothing else if you didnt have it and thought of other things if you did.
No one can possibly know what is about to happen it is happening, each time, for the first time, for the only time.
Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.
Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.
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 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.
The price one pays for pursuing a profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.
The price we pay when pursuing any art or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.
The questions which one asks oneself begin, at least, to illuminate the world, and become one's key to the experience of others.
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 moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.
To defend one's self against fear is simply to ensure that one will, one day, be conquered by it fears must be faced.
You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can't, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world... The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way ... people look at reality, then you can change it.

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