Top Quotes by James A. Baldwin

It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.

James A. Baldwin

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.

James A. Baldwin

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.

James A. Baldwin

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.

James A. Baldwin

The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.

James A. Baldwin

Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.

James A. Baldwin

The power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world’s definitions.

James A. Baldwin

Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.

James A. Baldwin

I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also, much more than that. So are we all.

James A. Baldwin

Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.

James A. Baldwin

Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.

James A. Baldwin

The paradox of education is precisely this – that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.

James A. Baldwin

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.

James A. Baldwin

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.

James A. Baldwin

There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now.

James A. Baldwin

American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.

James A. Baldwin

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.

James A. Baldwin

Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart; for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.

James A. Baldwin

Education is indoctrination if you’re white – subjugation if you’re black.

James A. Baldwin

To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.

James A. Baldwin

Everybody’s journey is individual. If 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.

James A. Baldwin

Be careful what you set your heart upon – for it will surely be yours.

James A. Baldwin

The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.

James A. Baldwin

To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the making of bread.

James A. Baldwin

No people come into possession of a culture without having paid a heavy price for it.

James A. Baldwin

The noblest spirit is most strongly attracted by the love of glory.

James A. Baldwin

The question of sexual dominance can exist only in the nightmare of that soul which has armed itself, totally, against the possibility of the changing motion of conquest and surrender, which is love.

James A. Baldwin

Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time.

James A. Baldwin

Love him and let him love you. Do you think anything else under heaven really matters?

James A. Baldwin

People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.

James A. Baldwin

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.

James A. Baldwin

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.

James A. Baldwin

Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated, and this was an immutable law.

James A. Baldwin

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.

James A. Baldwin

When a man asks himself what is meant by action he proves that he isn’t a man of action. Action is a lack of balance. In order to act you must be somewhat insane. A reasonably sensible man is satisfied with thinking.

James A. Baldwin

I’ve always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative.

James A. Baldwin

Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch.

James A. Baldwin

The future is like heaven, everyone exalts it, but no one wants to go there now.

James A. Baldwin

Most of us are about as eager to be changed as we were to be born, and go through our changes in a similar state of shock.

James A. Baldwin

There is a ‘sanctity’ involved with bringing a child into this world: it is better than bombing one out of it.

James A. Baldwin

When one begins to live by habit and by quotation, one has begun to stop living.

James A. Baldwin

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.

James A. Baldwin

You know, it’s not the world that was my oppressor, because what the world does to you, if the world does it to you long enough and effectively enough, you begin to do to yourself.

James A. Baldwin

People can cry much easier than they can change.

James A. Baldwin

The price one pays for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.

James A. Baldwin

Money, it turned out, was exactly like sex, you thought of nothing else if you didn’t have it and thought of other things if you did.

James A. Baldwin

Any writer, I suppose, feels that the world into which he was born is nothing less than a conspiracy against the cultivation of his talent.

James A. Baldwin

There are few things more dreadful than dealing with a man who knows he is going under, in his own eyes, and in the eyes of others. Nothing can help that man. What is left of that man flees from what is left of human attention.

James A. Baldwin

The questions which one asks oneself begin, at least, to illuminate the world, and become one’s key to the experience of others.

James A. Baldwin

It is very nearly impossible… to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.

James A. Baldwin

Every legend, moreover, contains its residuum of truth, and the root function of language is to control the universe by describing it.

James A. Baldwin

The writer’s greed is appalling. He wants, or seems to want, everything and practically everybody, in another sense, and at the same time, he needs no one at all.

James A. Baldwin

A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled.

James A. Baldwin