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 (via Maria):


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.

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


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