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The Book of Famous Quotes: The Complete Collection

 :: 1924-1987, American Author

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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 - [Oppression]

 

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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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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 - [Failure]

 

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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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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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The future is... black.
~ James Baldwin - [Future]

 

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We are all androgynous, not only because we are all born of a woman impregnated by the seed of a man but because each of us, helplessly and forever, contains the other -- male in female, female in male, white in black and black in white. We are a part of each other. Many of my countrymen appear to find this fact exceedingly inconvenient and even unfair, and so, very often, do I. But none of us can do anything about it.
~ James Baldwin - [Gender]

 

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It is rare indeed that people give. Most people guard and keep; they suppose that it is they themselves and what they identify with themselves that they are guarding and keeping, whereas what they are actually guarding and keeping is their system of reality and what they assume themselves to be.
~ James Baldwin - [Giving]

 

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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.
~ James Baldwin - [Human Rights]

 

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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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The making of an American begins at the point where he himself rejects all other ties, any other history, and himself adopts the vesture of his adopted land.
~ James Baldwin - [Immigration]

 

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People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.
~ James Baldwin - [Innocence]

 

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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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The American ideal, after all, is that everyone should be as much alike as possible.
~ James Baldwin - [Conformity]

 

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Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have.
~ James Baldwin - [Death and Dying]

 

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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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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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It is very nearly impossible... to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.
~ James Baldwin - [Education]

 

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