Bold … Becoming … Baldwin


My friends will tell you I talk about James Baldwin all the time. I quote him often. Just yesterday, someone asked me why I like Baldwin so much. I told him that because my education had mostly been white-washed, except for what my family introduced me to. When I discover(ed) people of color who were intriguing, I drank in as many of them as I possibly could. Baldwin was no exception. He was astoundingly wise and is relevant, even now. Beyond that, he was a man’s man. Baldwin didn’t flaunt his blackness; he didn’t flaunt his homosexuality; he just was. His character had flaws, as “people don’t come in perfect,” my mom always says and that fact made him human. There’s no way I cannot respect that. So this post is a tribute to James Baldwin, the man who tried to teach us about ourselves the best way he knew how to: through his artistry.

A few of my favorite quotes …
* Education is indoctrination, if you’re white. Subjugation, if you’re black.
* 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.
* 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 takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.
* Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch.
* 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.
* The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.
* 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.
* 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.

And this one is beautifully oxymoronic (and maybe he was thinking of me when he said it, since I so dearly love his words …

* When one begins to live by habit and by quotation, one has begun to stop living.

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~ by MsInklination on December 15, 2009.

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