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Top 81 James Baldwin Quotes About Life (LOVE)

Top 10 Most Famous James Baldwin Quotes (BEST)

“For nothing is fixed, forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. 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.”

James Baldwin
Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.
Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.
I can't believe what you say, because I see what you do.
I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.
Trust life, and it will teach you, in joy and sorrow, all you need to know.
Trust life, and it will teach you, in joy and sorrow, all you need to know.
You have to decide who you are and force the world to deal with you, not with its idea of you.
You have to decide who you are and force the world to deal with you, not with its idea of you.
It is astonishing the lengths to which a person, or a people, will go in order to avoid a truthful mirror.
It is astonishing the lengths to which a person, or a people, will go in order to avoid a truthful mirror.
We are responsible for the world in which we find ourselves, if only because we are the only sentient force which can change it.
We are responsible for the world in which we find ourselves, if only because we are the only sentient force which can change it.
Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.
Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.
Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but, most of all, endurance.
Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but, most of all, endurance.
I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also, much more than that. So are we all.
I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also, much more than that. So are we all.

10 Inspirational James Baldwin Quotes About Life

Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.
Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.
One cannot deny the humanity of another without diminishing one's own.
One cannot deny the humanity of another without diminishing one’s own.
Every human being is an unprecedented miracle.
Every human being is an unprecedented miracle.
You don't realize that you're intelligent until it gets you into trouble.
You don’t realize that you’re intelligent until it gets you into trouble.
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.
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.
I've always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative.
I’ve always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative.
The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.
The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.
Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart; for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.
Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart; for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.
Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity.
Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity.
When one begins to live by habit and by quotation, one has begun to stop living.
When one begins to live by habit and by quotation, one has begun to stop living.

15 Wise James Baldwin Quotes to Live by (WISDOM)

“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 Baldwin
The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.
The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.
People can cry much easier than they can change.
People can cry much easier than they can change.
The noblest spirit is most strongly attracted by the love of glory.
The noblest spirit is most strongly attracted by the love of glory.

“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 Baldwin
People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction.
People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction.

“People can’t, unhappily, invent their mooring posts, their lovers and their friends, anymore than they can invent their parents. Life gives these and also takes them away and the great difficulty is to say yes to life.”

James 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.
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.
No one can possibly know what is about to happen it is happening, each time, for the first time, for the only time.
No one can possibly know what is about to happen: it is happening, each time, for the first time, for the only time.

“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 Baldwin
But the relationship of morality and power is a very subtle one. Because ultimately power without morality is no longer power.
But the relationship of morality and power is a very subtle one. Because ultimately power without morality is no longer power.
There are so many ways of being despicable it quite makes one’s head spin. But the way to be really despicable is to be contemptuous of other people’s pain.
There are so many ways of being despicable it quite makes one’s head spin. But the way to be really despicable is to be contemptuous of other people’s pain.
The questions which one asks oneself begin, at least, to illuminate the world, and become one's key to the experience of others.
The questions which one asks oneself begin, at least, to illuminate the world, and become one’s key to the experience of others.
We have all had the experience of finding that our reactions and perhaps even our deeds have denied beliefs we thought were ours.
We have all had the experience of finding that our reactions and perhaps even our deeds have denied beliefs we thought were ours.
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.
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.

9 Motivational James Baldwin Quotes on Success

“It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I’d been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.”

James Baldwin
Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.
Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.
The place in which I'll fit will not exist until I make it.
The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I make it.
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.
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.
Be careful what you set your heart upon - for it will surely be yours.
Be careful what you set your heart upon – for it will surely be yours.
Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.
Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.
You cannot fix what you will not face.
You cannot fix what you will not face.
The young think that failure is the Siberian end of the line, banishment from all the living, and tend to do what I then did - which was to hide.
The young think that failure is the Siberian end of the line, banishment from all the living, and tend to do what I then did – which was to hide.
The price one pays for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.
The price one pays for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.

3 James Baldwin Quotes on Education

The purpose of education is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions.
The purpose of education is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions.
It is very nearly impossible to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.
It is very nearly impossible to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.
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.
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.

2 James Baldwin Quotes on Art

All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.
All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.
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 primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid; the state of being alone.

4 James Baldwin Quotes on Oppression

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

2 James Baldwin Quotes on Children

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.
Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.
A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled.
A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled.

2 James Baldwin Quotes on Victims

The victim who is able to articulate the situation of the victim has ceased to be a victim: he or she has become a threat.
The victim who is able to articulate the situation of the victim has ceased to be a victim: he or she has become a threat.
It is a very rare man who does not victimize the helpless.
It is a very rare man who does not victimize the helpless.

2 James Baldwin Quotes on the Future

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

2 James Baldwin Quotes on having a Home

You don’t have a home until you leave it and then, when you have left it, you never can go back.
You don’t have a home until you leave it and then, when you have left it, you never can go back.
Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.
Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.

3 James Baldwin Quotes on Hate

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.
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.
Remember, to hate, to be violent, is demeaning. It means you're afraid of the other side of the coin -- to love and be loved.
Remember, to hate, to be violent, is demeaning. It means you’re afraid of the other side of the coin — to love and be loved.
Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated, and this was an immutable law.
Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated, and this was an immutable law.

4 James Baldwin Quotes on Skin Color

The only thing that white people have that black people need, or should want, is power-and no one holds power forever.
The only thing that white people have that black people need, or should want, is power-and no one holds power forever.
The power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world's definitions.
The power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world’s definitions.
To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.
To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.
Education is indoctrination if you're white - subjugation if you're black.
Education is indoctrination if you’re white – subjugation if you’re black.

7 James Baldwin Quotes on Love

“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 Baldwin
Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.
Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.
Love him and let him love you. Do you think anything else under heaven really matters
Love him and let him love you. Do you think anything else under heaven really matters?
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 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.

“I think that the inability to love is the central problem, because that inability masks a certain terror, and that terror is the terror of being touched. And if you can’t be touched, you can’t be changed. And if you can’t be changed, you can’t be alive.”

James 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.
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.

“People don’t have any mercy. They tear you limb from limb, in the name of love. Then, when you’re dead, when they’ve killed you by what they made you go through, they say you didn’t have any character. They weep big, bitter tears – not for you. For themselves, because they’ve lost their toy.”

James Baldwin

2 James Baldwin Quotes on Justice

“Ask any Mexican, any Puerto Rican, any black man, any poor person – ask the wretched how they fare in the halls of justice, and then you will know, not whether or not the country is just, but whether or not it has any love for justice, or any concept of it. It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”

James Baldwin

“If one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country, one does not question the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, or the protected members of the middle class. One goes to the unprotected – those, precisely, who need the law’s protection most! – and listens to their testimony.”

James Baldwin

2 James Baldwin Quotes on America

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

2 James Baldwin Quotes on being a Writer

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.
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.
I want to be an honest man and a good writer.
I want to be an honest man and a good writer.

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