james baldwin

james baldwin

intro’d to James via Ta-Nehisi comparisons..



“BALDWIN’S NIGGER” (James Baldwin and Dick Gregory) 1969

if we were concerned with freedom…but we’re concerned with power

no white american is sure he’s white

20 min – that’s the thing about oppression.. the most subtle effect is what it does to your mind.. what it does to the way you think about yourself.. that’s the whole cornerstone…

30 min – at this hour of world’s history i have an advantage over you because i am compelled to doubt my history, examine it, create it.. that means i have to question everything.. white person is opposite.. right in the middle.. to apart from his own morality.. he is part of the people who at this hour are putting a black person in jail, whipping him, … that innocence can be in crucial moments a very grave danger

33 min – it’s not a matter of my liberation ..it’s also a matter of yours.. we have to work together for each other to save this really frightening world.

41 min – whit is not a color it’s an attitude, black is not a color, it’s an attitude


one ness

nationality: human

none of us if one of us ness


Who is the Nigger?

i’m not describing you when i talk about you.. i’m describing me.

white people invented the nigger. what you were describing was not me… you invented it.. it had to be something you were afraid of. you invested me with it.

i know and i’ve always known… that i’m not a nigger. but if i am not the nigger.. then who is..

i am not the victim here.

i know that a person is more important than anything else.

but you still think, i gather, that the nigger is necessary. well he’s unnecessary to me. so he must be necessary to you. so i give you your problem back.


1965 debate with buckley

19 min – by the time you’re 30 – nothing you have done and nothing you can do has helped you (or your son/daughter) escape the trap

22 min – on economy – i built the railroads.. under someone else’s whip .. for nothing

24 min – now helplessly believing.. one enormous consolation.. at least they are not black.. what has happened to whites is much worse than what has happened to blacks… something awful must have happened to a human being to be able to put a cattle prod to a woman’s breast… that is much much worse.. moral lives destroyed by the plague called color

28 min – what we are not doing is facing the results of what we’ve done

31 min – on believing that it’s true.. that you belong where white people put you

37 min – it’s a terrible thing for an entire people to surrender to the notion that 1/9 of the population is beneath them..

38 min – standing o




wikipedia small

James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic. His essays, as collected in Notes of a Native Son (1955), explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th-century America, and their inevitable if unnameable tensions. Some Baldwin essays are book-length, for instance The Fire Next Time (1963),No Name in the Street (1972), and The Devil Finds Work (1976).

Baldwin’s novels and plays fictionalize fundamental personal questions and dilemmas amid complex social and psychological pressures thwarting the equitable integration of not only blacks, but also of gay and bisexual men, while depicting some internalized obstacles to such individuals’ quests for acceptance. Such dynamics are prominent in Baldwin’s second novel, written well before gay equality was widely espoused in America: Giovanni’s Room(1956).[2] Baldwin’s first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, is said to be his best-known work.


from friends birthday shares..

Noel via Okaikor – 5 videos to watch (3 already seen above)


interview pt 3

artists struggle for integrity – excerpt

1\ the poets (all artists) are the only people who know the truth about us

2\ the price of the artists – willingness to give up everything..

giving is not an investment.. it is a total risk.. of everything.. of you.. of who you think you are…

– – – –

Any Negro who is born in this country and undergoes the American education system runs the risk of becoming schizophrenic.


As adults, we are easily fooled because we are so anxious to be fooled.  But children are very different.  Children, not yet aware that it is dangerous to look too deeply at anything, look at everything, look at each other, and draw their own conclusions.  They don’t have the vocabulary to express what they see, and we, their elders, know how to intimidate them very easily and very soon.


Even today, so brainwashed is this republic that people seriously ask in what they suppose to be good faith, “What does the Negro want?”  I’ve heard a great many asinine questions in my life, but that is perhaps the most asinine and perhaps the most insulting.  But the point here is that people who ask that question, thinking that they ask it in good faith, are really the victims of this conspiracy to make Negroes believe they are less than human.

In order for me to live, I decided very early that some mistake had been made somewhere.  I was not a “nigger” even though you called me one.  But if I was a “nigger” in your eyes, there was something about you – there was something you needed.


America is not the world and if America is going to become a nation, she must find a way – and this child must help her to find a way to use the tremendous potential and tremendous energy which this child represents.  If this country does not find a way to use that energy, it will be destroyed by that energy.

energylet’s do this first


It is very nearly impossible to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.


hollywood rountable -Harry Belafonte, Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston, Sidney Poitier, Joseph Mankiewicz, James Baldwin and David Schoenbrun discuss the Civil Rights March on Washington, August 28, 1963.

Title: Hollywood Round Table – Civil Rights, ca. 1963


James Baldwin, one of the most distinguished writers and thinkers of his time, and the FBI spied on him relentlessly: interc.pt/1Knza9d


from James Baldwin on creative process (via Maria):


from (pdf) – https://openspaceofdemocracy.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/baldwin-creative-process.pdf

Perhaps 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.

pascal quiet in room

self-talk as data.. as we are set free to be us/artists.. all of us..

Most of us are not compelled to linger with the knowledge of our aloneness, for it is a knowledge that can paralyze all action in this world. There are, forever, swamps to be drained, cities to be created, mines to be exploited, children to be fed. None of these things can be done alone. But the conquest of the physical world is not man’s only duty. He is also enjoined to conquer the great wilderness of himself. The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.

2 needs – toward us.. toward eudaimoniative surplus


It is for this reason that all societies have battled with the incorrigible disturber of the peace — the artist. …And it is absolutely inevitable that when a tradition has been evolved, whatever the tradition is, the people, in general, will suppose it to have existed from before the beginning of time and will be most unwilling and indeed unable to conceive of any changes in it. They do not know how they will live without those traditions that have given them their identity. Their reaction, when it is suggested that they can or that they must, is panic… And a higher level of consciousness among the people is the only hope we have, now or in the future, of minimizing human damage.

That nation is healthiest which has the least necessity to distrust or ostracize

In a sentiment that Jeanette Winterson would come to echo decades later — Art … says, don’t accept things for their face value; you don’t have to go along with any of this; you can think for yourself.”


The artist is distinguished from all other responsible actors in society — the politicians, legislators, educators, and scientists — by the fact that he is his own test tube, his own laboratory, working according to very rigorous rules, however unstated these may be, and cannot allow any consideration to supersede his responsibility to reveal all that he can possibly discover concerning the mystery of the human being. 


Societies never know it, but the war of an artist with his society is a lover’s war, and he does, at his best, what lovers do, which is to reveal the beloved to himself and, with that revelation, to make freedom real.


from James Baldwin and Margaret Mead‘s rap on race (via Maria):


BALDWIN: The world is scarcely habitable for the conscious young… There is a tremendous national, global, moral waste.

let’s do this first: free art ists.. energy we need

MEAD: I know.

BALDWIN: And the question is, How can it be arrested? That’s the enormous question. Look, you and I both are whatever we have become, and whatever happens to us now doesn’t really matter. We’re done. It’s a matter of the curtain coming down eventually. But what should we do about the children? We are responsible; so far as we are responsible at all, our responsibility lies there, toward them. We have to assume that we are responsible for the future of this world.

MEAD: That’s right.

BALDWIN: What shall we do? How shall we begin it? How can it be accomplished? How can one invest others with some hope?

MEAD: Then we come to a point where I would say it matters to know where we came from. That it matters to know the long, long road that we’ve come through. And this is the thing that gives me hope we can go further.

a nother way.. 3 ship ables

sept 2015

On Touch, Loneliness, and James Baldwin’s Radical Love wp.me/p2GmBR-21m via @plthomasEdD
oct 2015 – from Henry Giroux:
In a world in which there is an increasing abandonment of egalitarian and democratic impulses, what will it take to educate young people to challenge authority and in the words of James Baldwinrob history of its tyrannical power, and illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.
via Jose..

James Baldwin empowered me to question what people called me (“illegal alien,” “faggot”) and respond w/: “I give you your problem back.”

Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/joseiswriting/status/671904084618645505


via Maria


James Baldwin on how we imprison ourselves, the role of the writer, and what freedom really means—superb read brainpickings.org/2016/05/09/jam…

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 hasn’t got to have an enormous military machine in order to be un-free when it’s simpler to be asleep, when it’s simpler to be apathetic, when it’s simpler, in fact, not to want to be free, to think that something else is more important.

turtle ness though.. we could help us all leap there.. today.. for (blank)’s sake


There is an illusion about America, a myth about America to which we are clinging which has nothing to do with the lives we lead and I don’t believe that anybody in this country who has really thought about it or really almost anybody who has been brought up against it — and almost all of us have one way or another — this collision between one’s image of oneself and what one actually is is always very painful and there are two things you can do about it, you can meet the collision head-on and try and become what you really are or you can retreat and try to remain what you thought you were, which is a fantasy, in which you will certainly perish.


We made the world we’re living in and we have to make it over.

3 ship ables to a nother way.

we can.. so we can’t not..

via Maria’s share:

James Baldwin on how our self-images imprison us and what freedom really means

power to the image\ination – rev in reverse ness


via Maria via rt by Bonnie

Audre Lorde on the Transformation of Silence into Language and the Empowering Vulnerability of Visibility https://t.co/hefxNAtCAe

Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/NewBlackMan/status/734018009082236928

But against these fecund conceptions of silence stands silence of a very different kind — the oppressive muting of dissenting, divergent, and minority voices, imposed first from the outside and then from the inside. (James Baldwin captured this internalized oppression memorably: “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.”)

Arundhati Roy quote shared by Toni Mac


i am not your negro trailer:



Commit to memory Word to live by pic.twitter.com/kXnSpxeyvQ

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. – JB


i am not your negro.. review



Murtaza Hussain (@MazMHussain) tweeted at 5:55 PM on Sat, Apr 22, 2017:
This is a good Baldwin quote https://t.co/xYdv2J8rPE

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. 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, who had ever been alive.


TrumanCapote’s Ashes (@tcapotesashes) tweeted at 6:46 AM – 2 Aug 2017 :

James Baldwin cutting to the heart of it. https://t.co/wpHS0hKani (http://twitter.com/tcapotesashes/status/892728247330459649?s=17)

why people cling to hate.. once hate is gone have to deal w pain


the price of the ticket.. notes/quotes:


intro – the price of the ticket

part of the price of the black ticket is involved – fatally – with the dream of becoming white.

this is not possible, partly because white people are not white: part of the price of the white ticket is to delude themselves into believing that they are


i am really saying something very simple.. there was not then nor is there now a single american institution which is not a racist institution. and racist institutions – the unions.. the church, the army.. are meant to keep the nigger in his place..

those people who have opted for being white congratulate themselves on their generous ability to return to the slave that freedom which they never had any right to endanger, much less take away. for this dubious effort, and still more dubious achievement, the congratulate themselves and expect to be congratulated; in the coin, furthermore , of black gratitude,  gratitude not only that my burden is (slowly, but it takes time).. being made lighter but my joy  that white people are improving..


a multitude is, i suppose, by defn, an anonymous group of people bound or driven together by fears  (i wrote ‘tears’) an hopes and needs which no individual member could face or articulate alone..


these ideas do not come from the mob. they come from the state, which creates and manipulates the mob. the idea of a black persons as property.. for ie.. not from mob.. not a spontaneous idea. it does not come from the people, who knew better, who thought nothing of intermarriage until they were penalized for it: this idea comes from the architects of the american state. these architects decided that the concept of property was more important -more real- than the possibilities of the human being


I want to pause here for this quote. “no society is really anxious to have that kind of person around.” Explains so much about how our edu systems succeed and fail in the same breath. By design. #Education https://t.co/kzw7Dy0H2F

Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/edifiedlistener/status/949265003147939840

“The purpose of education is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions. But no society is really anxious to have that kind of person around” – James Baldwin. A Talk to Teachers via

begs a do over.. esp now that we can – as it could be

ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way



i am not your negro

I am Not Your Negro is streaming legally for free until the 30th on PBS, I urge you to check out this important documentary if you can! https://t.co/0W8RhlUHz6

Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/Sallataire/status/954461195087462400

i’m not a nigger.. i’m a man.. but if you think i’m a nigger.. you’ve got to figure out why.. they future of america depends on that..

5 min – the three men.. medgar (63) .. malcolm (65) and martin (68)


The memoir recounts the lives of his close friends and civil rights leaders Malcolm XMartin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers.

11 min – (on going back to america) i missed my connections.. the life the produced/nourished/paid-for me.. now.. though i was a stranger.. i was home

13 min – because of bill miller (white teacher when i was 10).. never learned to hate white people.. (and first witness of dancing – ? – no tv – beautiful)

16 min – i despised/feared those heroes because they did take vengeance into their own hands.. my countrymen.. were my enemy

17 min – i suspect that all these stories were designed to reassure us that no crime was committed.. we’d made a legend out of a massacre

18 min – it comes as a great shock to discover the country which is your birthplace and to which you owe your life and your id.. has not in its whole system of reality evolved any place for you..

22 min – i would find that the line that separates a witness from an actor is a very thin line indeed.. nevertheless the line is real

i was not a black muslim.. in same way but for diff reasons i never became a black panther cause i did not believe that all white people were devils.. and i did not want young black people to believe that..  i was not a member of any christian congregation because i knew that they had not heard and did not live by the commandment.. love one another as i love you.. and i was not a member of the naacp.. because in the north where i grew up the naacp was fatally entangled w black class distinctions.. or illusions of the same.. which repelled a shoe shine boy.. like me

marsh label law

23 min – i was never.. living criminality daily.. fighting for moneys or how to use it.. not responsible for strategies for prayer mtgs.. marches..voting reg drives.. i saw the sheriffs/deputies.. the storm troupers.. more or less in passing.. i was never i town to stay.. this was sometimes hard on my morale.. but i had to accept as time wore on that part of my responsibility as a witness was to move as largely and as freely as possible.. to write the story and to get it out

25 min – 1966 fbi including name in security.. well known.. and homosexual

27 min – 1963 – white man believing birmingham..  is on mars.. not happening anywhere else..

28 min – i watched two men (malcom and martin) come from two unimaginably diff backgrounds.. whose views were originally poles apart.. driven closer and closer together.. by the time each died.. their positions had become virtually the same position.. it can be said that martin picked up malcolm’s burden.. articulated the vision which malcolm had become to see and which he paid for his life.. medgar was too young to see this.. but he hoped for it.. and was murdered first.. i was older than (all of them) i was raised to believe that the oldest was supposed to be a model for the younger.. and was of course.. expected to die first..

30 min – malcolm’s great authority over any of his audiences.. he articulates their suffering.. he tells them they really exist

31 min – and there are days.. this is one of them.. when you wonder.. what your role is in this country and what your future is in it.. how precise are you going to reconcile yourself to your situation here.. and how you are going to communicate.. to the vast.. heedless.. unthinking.. cruel.. white majority.. that you are here.. i’m terrified at the moral apathy.. the death of the heart.. which is happening in my country.. these people have deluded themselves for so long.. that they really don’t think i’m human.. i base this on their conduct not on what they say.. and this means that they have become .. themselves.. moral monsters

34 min – loraine hansberry.. author of raisin in the sun.. dies at 34 of cancer.. after asking president and bobby kennedy to walk black child to school as sign of solidarity

36 min – medgar shot after taking baldwin to airport.. family watching.. dylan sings


37 min – he who finds no way to rest cannot long survive the battle

38 min – the truth is.. that this country does not know what to do w this black population

39 min – when you watch.. and this is not a figure of speech.. the corpses of your bros/sisters pile up around you.. not for anything that they have done.. they were too young to have done anything  (while showing dates/pics of recent deaths of young black people.. ie: tamir, trayvon, ..) .. but what one does realize.. is that when you try to stand up and look the world in the face.. like you had a right to be here.. you have attacked the entire power structure of the western world..

40 mi – forget the (political) acts et al.. what you have to notice is what is happening in this country.. is that brother has murdered his brother.. knowing it was his brother.. white men have lynched negroes knowing to be their sons.. white women have had negroes burned knowing to be their lovers.. it is not a racial problem.. it is a problem of whether or not you are willing to look at your life and be responsible for it and then begin to change it.. that great western house i come from.. i’m one of the children of that house.. simply the most despised of that house.. and it’s because the american people are unable to face the fact that i’m flesh of their flesh.. bone of their bone.. created by them.. my blood.. my father’s blood.. is in that soil..


41 min – i know very well that my ancestors had no desire to come to this place.. but neither did the ancestors of the people who became white (b & w slaves) and who require my captivity a song.. they required a song of me much to celebrate my captivity and to justify their own

refugee ness

42 min – i’ve always been struck in america behind emotional *poverty ..so bottomless ..and the **terror of human life.. of human touch.. so deep that virtually no american appears able to achieve any viable organic connection between his public stance and his private life.. this failure of the private life has always had the most devastating effect on ***american public conduct.. and on black white relations.. if americans were not so terrified of their private selves.. they would never have become so dependent on what they call the negro problem..

*poverty ness.. missing of **maté basic needs.. ***maté trump law

43 mi – this problem would stay invented in order to safeguard their purity.. has made of them criminals and monsters.. and it is destroying them.. this .. not from anything blacks may or may not be doing.. but because of the role of a guilty and constricted white imagination.. as assigned to the blacks..

44 min – it is impossible to accept the premise of the story.. a premise based on the profound american misunderstanding of the nature of the hatred between black and white.. the root of the black man’s hatred is rage and he does not so much hate white men as simply wants them out of his way.. and more than that.. out of his children’s way..  the root of the white man’s hatred.. is terror .. a bottomless and nameless terror.. which focuses on this dread figure.. an entity which lives only in his mind

45 min – when sydney jumps off the train.. the black man jumps of the train in order to reassure black people.. to make them know that they are not hated.. and that though they have made human errors.. they have done nothing for which to be hated..

man.. if only all of us.. could assume good.. healing (roots of)

46 min – black men still used in popular culture as if they have no sexual equipment at all.. ie: sydney and harry.. on black people particularly disliked guess who’s coming to dinner.. because they felt that sydney was in effect being used against them.. gwctd may be in some bizarre way to be a milestone.. because it is really quite impossible to go any further in that particular direction.. the next time.. the kissing will have to start..


47 min – in the heat of the night.. i am aware that men did not kiss each other in american films.. nor for the most part in america..  nor did the black detective and the white sheriff kiss here.. but the obligatory fade out kiss and the classic american film did not speak of love and still less of sex..  it spoke of reconciliation.. of all things now becoming possible..

48 min – i knew a blonde girl in the village.. and eventually we never walked out of the house together.. she was far safer walking the streets alone than when walking with me.. a brutal and humiliating fact.. which thoroughly destroyed whatever relationship this girl and i might have been able to achieve.. this happens all the time in america.. but americans have yet to realize what a sinister fact this is.. what it says about them..

49 min – we would walk separately thru the streets of the free and the brave.. to wherever we were going

50 min – someone once said to me.. that the people in general cannot bare very much reality.. he meant by this that they prefer fantasy to a truthful recreation of their experience.. people have quite enough reality to bare.. by simply getting thru their lives.. raising their children.. dealing with the eternal conundrums of birth.. taxes.. and death

53 min – on most things.. including economy .. and esp in south.. not able to be.. unless they had and still do have.. cheap labor

54 min – it’s a terrible thing for an entire people to surrender to the notion that 1/9 of its population is beneath them.. and until that moment.. until the moment comes.. when we the american people are able to accept the fact.. that i have to accept for ie.. that  my ancestors are both white and black.. that on that continent we are trying to forge a new id .. in which we need each other.. and that i am not a ward of america.. i’m not an object of missionary charity.. i’m one of the people who build the country.. until this moment.. there is scarcely any hope for the american dream.. because the people who are denied participation in it.. by their very presence.. will wreck it.. and if that happens a very grave moment for the west


and he gets a standing o.. where is that standing o now..? where are we

57 min – 7 men in a room.. came to capital to march.. for freedom and for jobs

harry: the success of this moment lays very heavily with the white community.. with the profiteers.. with the invested interest.. with a great middle stream of people in this country who have refused to commit themselves.. or even have the slightest knowledge that these things have been going on

(notes on this video/panel above it think)

i am speaking of a member of a certain democracy in a very complex country.. which insists on being very narrow minded.. simplicity is taken to be a great american virtue.. along with sincerity.. (then tapes of presidents/politicians of past saying.. i’m sorry.. then b clinton.. sorry.. but got to get used to it.. it’s one of those little things in life).. one of the results of this.. is that immaturity is taken to be a virtue too.. so that someone like.. john wayne.. who spent most of his time on screen admonishing indians.. was in no necessity to grow up..

59 min – killing of malcolm – gunned down at really.. got word while in london at restaurant w sister..  and press on way

1:00 – there’s nothing in the evidence of or by the book of the american republic which allows me really to argue with the cat who says to me..  they needed us to pick the cotton and now they don’t need us any more.. now they don’t need us and they’re going to kill us off.. just like they did the indians.. and i can’t say it’s a christian nation.. that we got brothers that are going to do that to you.. because the record is too long and too bloody.. it’s all we had done (?) .. all your buried corpses now begin to speak

1:01 – black panther party – violence is necessary.. oakland 68

black panther

if we were white and we were irish.. jewish.. poles.. if we had in fact in your mind.. a frame of reference.. our heroes would be your heroes too.. instead of a threat.. ie: malcolm x might still be alive.. when the israelites pick up guns or the poles or the irish.. any white man in the world…. says give me liberty or give me death.. the entire white world applauds.. but 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 ie of this bad nigger so there won’t be any more like him

 on the Dick Cavett Show

1:02 – the land we love – 60 govt film.. (talks of ie: unrestricted travel as 65 la protests going on)

1:03 – mlk – we’ve dropped to many bombs on nam now.. save our national honor.. stop the bombing and stop the war


what i am trying to say to this country.. to us.. is that we must know this.. we must realize this.. that no other country in the world has been so fat and sleek and safe.. so happy .. and so irresponsible.. and so dead.. no other country can afford to dream of a plymouth and a wife and a house w a fence.. and the children growing up safely.. to go to college and to become executives.. then to marry .. and have the plymouth and the house.. and so forth.. a great many people do not live this way (pic switches to black people) and cannot imagine it and do not know that when we talk about democracy.. this is what we mean

1:04 – the industry is compelled.. given the way that it is built to present to the american people.. a self-perpetuating fantasy of american life.. their concept of entertainment is difficult to distinguish from the use of narcotics.. to watch the tv screen (showing talk/game shows) for any length of time is to learn some really frightening things.. about the american sense of reality.. we are cruelly trapped between what we would like to be.. and what we actually are.. and we cannot possibly become what we would like to be until we are willing to ask ourselves.. just why the lives we lead on this continent are mainly so empty.. so tame (?).. and so ugly..  these images are designed not to trump.. but to re issue.. they also weaken our ability to deal with the world as it is..ourselves as we are..

1:06 – paul weiss joins dick cavette show (from earlier).. paul: each of us is individual .. dealing w the problem to become a man..  james: well what i was discussing was not that problem.. i was discussing the difficulty/obstacles.. the very real things around death thrown around by this society when a negro.. when a black man.. attempts to become a man..  paul: all this emphasis on black man and white.. puts people in groups they ought not to be in .. i have more in common w a black scholar than a white man who’s against scholarship.. why must we always concentrate on color or religion or this.. there are other ways of connecting men..   james: i’ll tell you this.. when i left this country in 48.. could have gone anywhere.. went to streets of paris.. and knew nothing could happen to me worse than it already had.. very hard to concentrate on your typewriter if you’re afraid of the world around you.. & always watching your back.. the yrs in paris did one particular thing for me.. the re (?) the social terror.. which is not a paranoia of my own mind.. but a real social danger.. visible in .. every cop/boss/body..  i don’t know what most people in this country feel i can only include what they feel from the state of their institutions.. i don’t know if white christians hate negroes or not but i know we have a christian church that is white and (one) that is black.. i know as malcolm x once put it.. that the most segregated time in american life is high noon on sunday.. about a christian nation.. it means i can’t afford to trust most white christians.. and certainly can’t trust the christian church.. i don’t know that the labor unions/bosses really hate me.. that doesn’t matter but i know i’m not in their union.. i don’t know if the real estate lobbyists are against black people but i know the real estate lobbyists keep me in the ghetto .. i don’t know if the board of ed hates black people but i know the textbooks they get my children to read and the schools we have to go to.. now.. this is the evidence.. you want me to make an act of faith.. risking myself.. my life.. my woman.. my successes.. my children.. on some idealism.. which you assure me exists in america.. which i have never seen..

1:09 – (showing uncle tom’s cabin – on their gentle rule of the slaves) .. all the western nations have been caught in a lie .. the lie of their pretended humanism.. this means that their history has no moral justification.. and that the west has no moral authority

1:10 – vile as i am.. states one of the characters in – the idiot – i don’t believe in the wagons that bring bread to humanity.. for the wagons that bring bread to humanity may coldly exclude a considerable part of humanity from enjoying what is brought.. (showing black people working on said bread et al).. for a very long time.. america prospered (showing the pajama game from 57)..  this prosperity cost millions of people their lives.. now.. not even the people who are the most spectacular recipients of the benefits of this prosperity are able to endure these benefits.. they can neither understand them nor do w/o them.. above all.. they cannot imagine the price paid by their victims/subjects for this way of life.. and so they cannot afford to know why the victims are revolting.. (video of riots.. police brutality)

1:11 – this is the formula for nation/kingdom decline.. while no kingdom can maintain itself by force alone.. force does not work in the way that its advocates think in fact it does (showing film.. custer of the west & soldier blue & wounded knee) .. it does not for ie reveal to the victim the strength of the adversary.. on the contrary.. it reveals the weakness.. even the panic of the adversary.. and this revelation invests (?) the victim w passion

1:13 – mlk shot (while filming malcom x).. i hardly remember the rest of the evening at all.. i remember weeping briefly.. more in helpless rage than in sorrow

1:15 – the story of the negro in america is the story of america.. it is not a pretty story.. what can we do.. well.. i am tired.. i don’t know how it will come about.. i know that however it comes about .. it will be bloody.. hard..

1:16 – i still believe that we can do w this country something that has not been done before.. we are misled here.. because we think of numbers.. you don’t need numbers.. you need passion..  the tragedy is that most of the people who say they care about it do not care.. what they care about is their safety and their profits..

1:17 (showing incarceration images) the american way of life has failed to make people happier or make them better.. we do not want to admit this.. and we do not admit it.. we persist in believing that the empty and criminal among our children are the result of some miscalculation in the formula that can be corrected..  that the bottomless/aimless hostility which makes our cities among the most dangerous in the world.. is created and felt by a handful of aberrants.. but the lack.. yawning everywhere in this country of passion and conviction.. personal authority proves only our rather appealing tendency to be gregarious and democratic (while showing numbers of dead from shootings).. to look around the us today is enough to make prophets and angels weep.. this is not the land of the free.. it is only very unwillingly and sporadically.. the home of the brave (as gun cocked in ‘elephant – gus van sant 2003’.. school shooting scene)

1:18 – i sometimes feel it to be an absolute miracle.. that the entire black population of the us has not long ago succumbed to rage and paranoia.. people finally say to you.. in attempt to dismiss the social reality: but you’re so bitter.. (showing video clips of ie: rodney king).. well.. i may or may not be bitter..  but if i were.. i would have good reasons for it.. chief among them.. that american blackness cowardice.. which allows us to pretend that black life presents no reasons for being bitter..

1:19 – (showing film.. love in the afternoon 57 – violin/dance scene).. in this country.. for a dangerously long time.. there’ve been two levels of experience 1\ to put it cruelly can be summed up in images of gary cooper and doris day (lullaby of broadway).. two of the most grotesque appeals to innocence the world has ever seen.. and the 2\ the other subterranean indispensable.. can be summed up in the face and tone of ray charles.. and there has never been any genuine confrontation between these two levels of experience.. (clip showing doris singing dreamily.. then to black woman lynched)

1:21 – you cannot lynch me and keep me in ghettos w/o becoming something monstrous yourselves.. and furthermore.. you give me a terrifying advantage.. you never had to look at me.. i had to look at you.. i know more about you than you know about me.. not everything that is faced can be changed.. but nothing can be changed until it is faced..

history is not the past.. it is the present.. we carry our history w us.. we are our history.. if we pretend otherwise.. we literally are criminals..

1:22 – i attest to this.. the world is not white.. it never was white.. cannot be white.. white is a metaphor for power and that is simply a way of describing chase manhattan bank..

1:23 – (clip) i can’t be a pessimist.. because i’m alive.. to be a pessimist means that you have agreed that human life is an academic matter.. so i’m forced to be an optimist.. i’m forced to believe that we can survive.. that we must survive.. but the negro in this country.. the future of the negro in this country is precisely as bright or as dark as the future of the country.. it is entirely *up to the american people.. and our reps.. it is entirely up to the american people.. whether or not they are going to face/deal-with/embrace the stranger whom they’ve (aligned?) so long.. what **white people have to do is try to find out in their own hearts.. why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place.. because i’m not a nigger.. i’m a man.. but if you think i’m a nigger.. it means you need it.. the question you’ve got to ask yourself.. the white population of this country has got to ask itself.. north and south because it’s one country.. and for a negro.. there’s not diff between the n and s..  there’s just a diff in the way they castrate you..  but the fact of the castration is the american fact..  if i’m not the nigger here.. and you invented it.. you are the white people invented it.. then you have to find out why.. and the future of the country depends on that.. whether or not it’s able to ask that question..

baldwin pessimist law

*huge diff there.. that’s our prob.. no more reps ness

**white people.. ?

none of us if one of us


in Jose Antonio Vargas‘s dear america


the bluest eye by toni morrison


black writers gave me permission to question america.t.. challenged me to find my place here and created a space for me to claim.. opened doors to other writers of color..   i read those words from baldwin like they were some sort of dare: ‘you have to decide who you are, and force the world to deal w you, not its idea of you’

baldwin.. roy..


i wanted no part of the master narrative about who the ‘illegal’ is..



The kids have a way of seeing through the veneers which the adults around them wear to get by in the world. . Behind the frowning life-battered facade, TJ can see a kindly, warmhearted man:

not yet scrambled

Originally published in 1976, with a jacket that billed it as “a child’s story for adults,” Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood


Maria Popova (@brainpicker) tweeted at 7:58 PM on Sun, Dec 01, 2019:
“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.”
Baldwin, a writer of towering talent and tenacity, died on this day in 1987. His advice on writing: https://t.co/xOjaSTnNHT


One of my favorite James Baldwin lines; “There is reason, after all, that some people wish to colonize the moon, and others dance before it as an ancient friend.”
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/FarahmBazzi/status/1443313701042499591

@zachbraiker Sure, it’s a line in his book ‘No Name in the Street’ (1972). I have an ebook version, but you can find the line on one of the last few pages before the epilogue.
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/FarahmBazzi/status/1443594614779387905