James Baldwin Love Quotes and Sayings
#1 “In Search of a Majority: An Address”, Feb 1960
1. 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.
#2 The Fire Next Time
2. Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word “love” here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace – not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.
#3 James Baldwin: A Biography, David Leeming
3. … the trick is to love somebody…. If you love one person, you see everybody else differently.
#4 Giovanni’s Room
4. Love him, love him and let him love you. Do you think anything else under heaven really matters?
#5 “Doom and glory of knowing who you are” by Jane Howard, in LIFE magazine, Vol. 54, No. 21, 24 May 1963
5. You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was Dostoevsky and Dickens who 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 ever had been alive. Only if we face these open wounds in ourselves can we understand them in other people.
#6-7 If Beale Street Could Talk
6. I’m coming home. I’m coming home, to you. I want you in my arms. I want your arms around me. I’ve got to hold our baby in my arms. It’s got to be. You keep the faith.
7. He grins again, and everything inside me moves. Oh, love. Love.
Excerpt from Wikipedia: James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – November 30, 1987) was an American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist.
Sayings by James Baldwin
#1 Fifth Avenue, Uptown, The Price of the Ticket: Collected Nonfiction 1948-1985 [S]
1. Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. They must, they have no other models. That is exactly what our children are doing. They are imitating our immorality, our disrespect for the pain of others.
#2-4 No name in the Street, 1972
2. 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.
3. It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.
4 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.
#5 Introduction to Nobody Knows My Name
5. ‘Be careful what you set your heart upon,’ someone once said to me, ‘for it will surely be yours.’ Well, I had said that I was going to be a writer, God, Satan, and Mississippi notwithstanding, and that color did not matter, and that I was going to be free. And, here I was, left with only myself to deal with. It was entirely up to me.
#6 “Negroes Are Anti-Semitic Because They’re Anti-White” in The New York Times, 9 April 1967
6. It is true that two wrongs don’t make a right, as we love to point out to the people we have wronged. But one wrong doesn’t make a right, either.
#7 The Crusade of Indignation, The Price of the Ticket
7. …the concepts contained in words like “freedom,” “justice,” “democracy” are not common concepts; on the contrary, they are rare. People are not born knowing what these are. It takes enormous and, above all, individual effort to arrive at the respect for other people that these words imply. [S]
#8-10 Notes of a Native Son
8. I had to claim my birthright. I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am, also, much more than that. So are we all. (preface to the 1984 edition)
9. 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.
10. I don’t like people who like me because I’m a Negro; neither do I like people who find in the same accident grounds for contempt. I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.
#11 “Letter from a Region of My Mind” in The New Yorker, 17 November 1962
11. If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.
#12 “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” in “The New York Times, 29 July 1979
12. A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled.
#13 An interview with James Baldwin, 1961
13. Most of us, no matter what we say, are walking in the dark, whistling in the dark. Nobody knows what is going to happen to him from one moment to the next, or how one will bear it. This is irreducible. And it’s true of everybody. Now, it is true that the nature of society is to create, among its citizens, an illusion of safety; but it is also absolutely true that the safety is always necessarily an illusion. Artists are here to disturb the peace.
#14-15 The Devil Finds Work
14. 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.
15. No one can possibly know what is about to happen: it is happening, each time, for the first time, for the only time.
#16 The Black Boy Looks at the White Boy in Esquire, May 1961
16. 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.
#17 Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son, 1961
17. Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.
#18 Nobody Knows My Name, Facebook, 7 December 2016
18. 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.
#19 The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings, 2011
19. Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.
#20 James Baldwin: The Last Interview and Other Conversations
20. Best advice I ever got was an old friend of mine, a black friend, who said you have to go the way your blood beats. If you don’t live the only life you have, you won’t live some other life, you won’t live any life at all. That’s the only advice you can give anybody. And it’s not advice, it’s an observation.
#21 Letter from a Region in My Mind, 17 November, 1962
21. How can one respect, let alone adopt, the values of a people who do not, on any level whatever, live the way they say they do, or the way they say they should?
#22-23 The Fire Next Time
22. One can give nothing whatever without giving oneself – that is to say, risking oneself. If one cannot risk oneself, then one is simply incapable of giving.
23. Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated, and this was an immutable law.
#24 “Faulkner and Desegregation” in Partisan Review, Fall 1956
24. Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety.
#25 James Baldwin, The Art of Fiction No. 78, The Paris Review, 1984, Jordan Elgrably: “What do you tell younger writers who come to you with the usual desperate question: How do I become a writer?”
25. Write. Find a way to keep alive and write. There is nothing else to say. If you are going to be a writer there is nothing I can say to stop you; if you’re not going to be a writer nothing I can say will help you. What you really need at the beginning is somebody to let you know that the effort is real.
#26 James Baldwin, The Art of Fiction No. 78, The Paris Review, 1984, Jordan Elgrably: “Can you discern talent in someone?”
26. 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.
#27 James Baldwin, The Art of Fiction No. 78, The Paris Review, 1984, Jordan Elgrably: “Is that the way a book starts for you, though? Something like that?”
27. Probably that way for everybody: something that irritates you and won’t let you go. That’s the anguish of it. Do this book, or die. You have to go through that.
#28 The Fire Next Time
28. 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 breaking of bread.
#29-30 Notes on the House of Bondage, The Price of the Ticket: Collected Nonfiction 1948-1985 [S]
29. The children are always ours, every single one of them, all over the globe; and I am beginning to suspect that whoever is incapable of recognizing this may be incapable of morality.
30. What we see in the children is what they have seen in us—or, more accurately perhaps, what they see in us.
Quotes attributed to James Baldwin
1. 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.
2. I’ve always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative.