Quotes by James A. Baldwin


Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
– 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
A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled.
– 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
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.
– 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
Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.
– James A. Baldwin
Be careful what you set your heart upon - for it will surely be yours.
– James A. Baldwin
Education is indoctrination if you're white - subjugation if you're black.
– 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
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
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
Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated, and this was an immutable law.
– James A. Baldwin
He may be a very nice man. But I haven't got the time to figure that out. All I know is, he's got a uniform and a gun and I have to relate to him that way. That's the only way to relate to him because one of us may have to die.
– 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
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
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
I want to be an honest man and a good writer.
– James A. Baldwin
I've always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative.
– 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