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 :: 1924-1987, American Author

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A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled.
~ James Baldwin - [Education]

 

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A platitude is simply a truth repeated till people get tired of hearing it.
~ James Baldwin - [Truth]

 

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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.
~ James Baldwin - [America]

 

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An identity is questioned only when it is menaced, as when the mighty begin to fall, or when the wretched begin to rise, or when the stranger enters the gates, never, thereafter, to be a stranger. 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.
~ James Baldwin - [Identity]

 

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An identity would seem to be arrived at by the way in which the person faces and uses his experience.
~ James Baldwin - [Identity]

 

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Any honest examination of the national life proves how far we are from the standard of human freedom with which we began. The recovery of this standard demands of everyone who loves this country a hard look at himself, for the greatest achievements must begin somewhere, and they always begin with the person. If we are not capable of this examination, we may yet become one of the most distinguished and monumental failures in the history of nations.
~ James Baldwin - [Freedom]

 

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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 Baldwin - [Writers and Writing]

 

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Anyone who has struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.
~ James Baldwin - [Poverty and The Poor]

 

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Be careful what you set your heart upon -- for it will surely be yours.
~ James Baldwin - [Desire]

 

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But the relationship of morality and power is a very subtle one. Because ultimately power without morality is no longer power.
~ James Baldwin - [Power]

 

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Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.
~ James Baldwin - [Children]

 

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Christianity has operated with an unmitigated arrogance and cruelty -- necessarily, since a religion ordinarily imposes on those who have discovered the true faith the spiritual duty of liberating the infidels.
~ James Baldwin - [Christians and Christianity]

 

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Confronted with the impossibility of remaining faithful to one's beliefs, and the equal impossibility of becoming free of them, one can be driven to the most inhuman excesses.
~ James Baldwin - [Belief]

 

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Experience is a private, and a very largely speechless affair.
~ James Baldwin - [Experience]

 

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Experience that destroys innocents also leads one back to it.
~ James Baldwin - [Experience]

 

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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 Baldwin - [Enthusiasm]

 

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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 Baldwin - [Police]

 

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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 Baldwin - [Fathers and Sons]

 

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If you're treated a certain way you become a certain kind of person. If certain things are described to you as being real they're real for you whether they're real or not.
~ James Baldwin - [Institutions]

 

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It is a very rare man who does not victimize the helpless.
~ James Baldwin - [Persecution]

 

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