Skip to Content

26 Ingeniously Motivational James Baldwin Quotes

26 Ingeniously Motivational James Baldwin Quotes

James Arthur Baldwin was a black African-American famous for his activism and essays on the black experience in the United States of America. Also, he explored race and social issue topics through his writing. James, in the time of extreme racial intolerance, not only voice against it but also participated in the civil rights moment at that time and was a contemporary to Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Baldwin was also a playwright, poet, and novelist.

American history is filled with racial inequality; even one reason the American civil war began was the notion that slavery is not wrong.

Eventually, the people who believed that slavery is terrible emerged victorious. Note here that aside from writing about race, James also wrote about homosexuality and favored it. It takes many guts to write on this topic as at that period, it was a taboo subject. Take a look at James’ quotes and sayings on the topic of Race, America, Identity, Love, and Humanity.

6 James Baldwin Quotes about Race/Racism

The subject of race has been a burning issue in today’s time, especially in the context of American history. The prevailing white privilege situation in the country has also added fuel to the fire. James, through his articulated writings, has pondered upon this race issue and has written on it. Let’s see what he had to say on this issue. Take a read!

  1. “The reason people think it’s important to be white is that they think it’s important not to be black.” – James Baldwin

  2. “You were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were Black and for no other reason. The limits of your ambition were, thus, expected to be set forever. You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity, and in as many ways as possible, that you were a worthless human being. You were not expected to aspire to excellence: you were expected to make peace with mediocrity.” – James Baldwin

  3. “What we are dealing with really is that for Black people in this country there is no legal code at all. We’re still governed; if that is the word I want, by the slave code.” – James Baldwin

  4. “If any white man in the world says give me liberty or give me death, the entire white world applauds. When a black man says exactly the same thing – word for word – he is judged a criminal and treated like one, and everything possible is done to make an example of this bad nigger so there won’t be any more like him”. – James Baldwin

  5. “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time,” – James Baldwin

  6. “Whatever white people do not know about Negroes reveals, precisely and inexorably, what they do not know about themselves.” – James Baldwin

Apart from James, another person who has led a rebellion against oppression and racial inequality are Nelson Mandela. Read his quotes and get all fire up against all kinds of injustices.

See Also:  100 Thought-provoking Mark Zuckerberg Quotes

4 Baldwin Quotes about America

American surely is a dream country for some while a nightmare to others. This is true when we take into account black people living in the country. Not all Americans are indeed racist, but there are quite a handful of ones that perpetuate the notion of racial superiority in society. Here are some of James quotes on America; see below:

  1. “Europe has what we do not have yet, a sense of the mysterious and inexorable limits of life, a sense, in a word, of tragedy. And we have what they sorely need: a sense of life’s possibilities.” – James Baldwin

  2. “It is only in his music, which Americans are able to admire because a protective sentimentality limits their understanding of it, that the Negro in America has been able to tell his story.” – James Baldwin

  3. “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 Baldwin

  4. “The American ideal, after all, is that everyone should be as much alike as possible.” – James Baldwin

7 James Baldwin Quotes about Identity

Identity surely is one of the most important things for humans; they always long for a house, a home they could call it theirs. James Baldwin, like race and homosexuality, has also said things about these topics; let’s have a look:

  1. “What passes for identity in America is a series of myths about one’s heroic ancestors. It’s astounding to me, for example, that so many people really seem to believe that the country was founded by a band of heroes who wanted to be free.” – James Baldwin

  2. “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

  3. “An identity would seem to be arrived at by the way in which the person faces and uses his experience.” – James Baldwin

  4. “Our dehumanization of the Negro then is indivisible from our dehumanization of ourselves; the loss of our own identity is the price we pay for our annulment of his.” – James Baldwin

  5. “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.” – James Baldwin

  6. “To ask questions of the universe, and then learn to live with those questions, is the way he achieves his own identity.” – James Baldwin

  7. “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.” – James Baldwin

7 Baldwin Quotes about Love

Love is the most enthralling thing humans can do and feel. Undoubtedly, all forms of art are bases on Love. People Love in the form of worship to their creator, while poetry is heavily influenced by human Love. Without Love and emotions, one cannot be human in all its essence and contradictions. Here are some of Baldwin’s quotes on Love.

  1. “If love will not swing wide the gates, no other power will or can.” – James Baldwin

  2. “Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle. Love is a war. Love is growing up.” – James Baldwin

  3. “The mind is like an object that picks up dust. The object doesn’t know, any more than the mind does, why what clings to it clings.” – James Baldwin

  4. “Neither love nor terror makes one blind: indifference makes one blind.” – James Baldwin

  5. “There are too many things we do not wish to know about ourselves. People are not, for example, terribly anxious to be equal (equal, after all, to what and to whom?) but they love the idea of being superior.” – James Baldwin

  6. “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.” – James Baldwin

  7. “Love takes off the masks we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” – James Baldwin

2 James Arthur Baldwin Quotes about Humanity

Humanity resides in almost many humans; that is the belief of many great saints and sages. Without humanity, humans are no less than animals, even below them. Humanity is what brings love, passion, and compassion in a human. Selfless service cannot be done until you have a deep sense and understanding of humanity. Here are some of James’ quotes on humanity.

  1. “Love him and let him love you. Do you think anything else under heaven really matters?” – James Baldwin

  2. “Love takes off the masks we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” – James Baldwin

That is it for this time; drop your favorite Arthur Baldwin quote in the comments section below.

See Also:  30 Best Theodore Roosevelt Quotes that Inspire