James Baldwin

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

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Americans, unhappily, have the most remarkable ability to alchemize all bitter truths into an innocuous but piquant confection and to transform their moral contradictions, or public discussion of such contradictions, into a proud decoration, such as are given for heroism on the battle field.
Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck -- but, most of all, endurance.
Fires can't be made with dead embers, nor can enthusiasm be stirred by spiritless men. Enthusiasm in our daily work lightens effort and turns even labor into pleasant tasks.
I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.
If the relationship of father to son could really be reduced to biology, the whole earth would blaze with the glory of fathers and sons.
It is a very rare man who does not victimize the helpless.
It is said that the camera cannot lie, but rarely do we allow it to do anything else, since the camera sees what you point it at: the camera sees what you want it to see.
Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war love is a growing up.
Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.
No one 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 shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.
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 price one pays for pursuing any profession or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.
The primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid: the state of being alone.
The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions which have been hidden by the answers.
We are all androgynous, not only because we are all born of a woman impregnated by the seed of a man but because each of us, helplessly and forever, contains the other -- male in female, female in male, white in black and black in white. We are a part of each other. Many of my countrymen appear to find this fact exceedingly inconvenient and even unfair, and so, very often, do I. But none of us can do anything about it.
We take our shape, it is true, within and against that cage of reality bequeathed us at our birth; and yet is precisely through our dependence on this reality that we are most endlessly betrayed.
You think your pains and heartbreaks are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who have ever been alive.

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