8 Ways to Be More Like James Baldwin

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1.) Take care of yourself at all costs:

“I knew what it meant to be white and I knew what it meant to be a James Baldwin 3n*gger, and I knew what was going to happen to me. My luck was running out. I was going to go to jail, I was going to kill somebody or be killed. My best friend had committed suicide two years earlier, jumping off the George Washington Bridge.”

2.) Know thyself. Evolve.

“I had to go through a time of isolation in order to come to terms with who and what I was, as distinguished from all the things I’d been told I was. Right around 1950 I remember feeling that I’d come through something, shed a dying skin and was naked again.”

3.) Understand who people are and what they want from you:

“People don’t have any mercy. They tear you limb from limb, in the name of love. Then, when you’re dead, when they’ve killed you by what they made you go through, they say you didn’t have any character. They weep big, bitter tears – not for you. For themselves, because they’ve lost their toy.” Another Country


4.) Never view yourself as a victim:

“All of this had quite a bit to do with the direction I took as a writer, because it seemed to me that if I took the role of a victim then I was simply reassuring the defenders of the status quo; as long as I was a victim they could pity me and add a few more pennies to my home-relief check.” The Paris Review.

5.) Embrace who you are and where you come from:

“People can’t, unhappily, invent their mooring posts, their lovers and their friends, anymore than they can invent their parents. Life gives these and also takes them away and the great difficulty is to say Yes to life.”Giovanni’s Room (Vintage International)

 

6.) Use your history to empower you:

“To accept one’s past – one’s history – is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it. An invented past can never be used; it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought.” The Fire Next Time

7.) You become what you hate, so it’s best not to give quarter to hate:

I was very wounded and I was very dangerous because you become what you hate. It’s what happened to my father and I didn’t want it to happen to me. His hatred was suppressed and turned against himself. He couldn’t let it out—he could only let it out in the house with rage,…

8.) Remember that no matter what you say, or how eloquent, you still don’t speak for all black people:

I don’t consider myself a spokesman—I have always thought it would be rather presumptuous.

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