James baldwin essays online
Writer James Baldwin (1924-1987) is counted among the most important and influential African American writers of the twentieth century.As I look back, everything I did seems curiously deliberate, though it certainly did not seem deliberate then.In all jazz, and especially in the blues, there is something tart and ironic, authoritative and double-edged.I underwent, during the summer that I became fourteen, a prolonged religious crisis.Again, the Jewish boys in high school were troubling because I could find no point of connection between them and the Jewish pawnbrokers and landlords and grocery-store owners in Harlem.The Russian Communists are not in the least concerned about these people.It was my good luck—perhaps—that I found myself in the church racket instead of some other, and surrendered to a spiritual seduction long before I came to any carnal knowledge.All of us know, whether or not we are able to admit it, that mirrors can only lie, that death by drowning is all that awaits one there.
But in our time, as in every time, the impossible is the least that one can demand—and one is, after all, emboldened by the spectacle of human history in general, and American Negro history in particular, for it testifies to nothing less than the perpetual achievement of the impossible.It was the kind of encounter one watches with a smile simply because it is so rare that people enjoy one another.Furthermore, it is now absolutely clear that white people are a minority in the world—so severe a minority that they now look rather more like an invention—and that they cannot possibly hope to rule it any longer.Therefore, when I faced a congregation, it began to take all the strength I had not to stammer, not to curse, not to tell them to throw away their Bibles and get off their knees and go home and organize, for example, a rent strike.When it was over, and the three of us stood at the bar trembling with rage and frustration, and drinking—and trapped, now, in the airport, for we had deliberately come early in order to have a few drinks and to eat—a young white man standing near us asked if we were students.
Collected essays (eBook, 1998) [WorldCat.org]
My friends began to drink and smoke, and embarked—at first avid, then groaning—on their sexual careers.Something very sinister happens to the people of a country when they begin to distrust their own reactions as deeply as they do here, and become as joyless as they have become.And I repeat: The price of the liberation of the white people is the liberation of the blacks—the total liberation, in the cities, in the towns, before the law, and in the mind.
Many of us, I think, both long to see this happen and are terrified of it, for though this transformation contains the hope of liberation, it also imposes a necessity for great change.And the blood of the Lamb had not cleansed me in any way whatever.But in order to change a situation one has first to see it for what it is: in the present case, to accept the fact, whatever one does with it thereafter, that the Negro has been formed by this nation, for better or for worse, and does not belong to any other-—not to Africa, and certainly not to Islam.Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have.I have never seen anything to equal the fire and excitement that sometimes, without warning, fill a church, causing the church, as Leadbelly and so many others have testified, to rock.Then two things caused me to begin to listen to the speeches, and one was the behavior of the police.And if I were a Muslim, I would not hesitate to utilize—or, indeed, to exacerbate—the social and spiritual discontent that reigns here, for, at the very worst, I would merely have contributed to the destruction of a house I hated, and it would not matter if I perished, too.Yet there was something deeper than these changes, and less definable, that frightened me.
White people in this country will have quite enough to do in learning how to accept and love themselves and each other, and when they have achieved this—which will not be tomorrow and may very well be never—the Negro problem will no longer exist, for it will no longer be needed.
Baldwin Collected Essays by James Baldwin - AbeBooksThus, in the realm of morals the role of Christianity has been, at best, ambivalent.But at the same time, out of a deep, adolescent cunning I do not pretend to understand, I realized immediately that I could not remain in the church merely as another worshipper.
God had come a long way from the desert—but then so had Allah, though in a very different direction.I became more guilty and more frightened, and kept all this bottled up inside me, and naturally, inescapably, one night, when this woman had finished preaching, everything came roaring, screaming, crying out, and I fell to the ground before the altar.In the case of the girls, one watched them turning into matrons before they had become women.I remember feeling dimly that there was a kind of blackmail in it.
The paradox—and a fearful paradox it is—is that the American Negro can have no future anywhere, on any continent, as long as he is unwilling to accept his past.
Summary/Reviews: Notes of a native son - Buffalo and ErieIt happened, as things do, imperceptibly, in many ways at once.And black has become a beautiful color—not because it is loved but because it is feared.
And this urgency on the part of American Negroes is not to be forgotten.
It is scarcely worthwhile to attempt remembering how many times the sun has looked down on the slaughter of the innocents.The Christian church itself—again, as distinguished from some of its ministers—sanctified and rejoiced in the conquests of the flag, and encouraged, if it did not formulate, the belief that conquest, with the resulting relative well-being of the Western populations, was proof of the favor of God.He spent an impoverished boyhood in Harlem, became a Pentecostal preacher at 14, and left the church.
During what we may call my heyday, I preached much more often than that.It was real in both the boys and the girls, but it was, somehow, more vivid in the boys.In any case, white people, who had robbed black people of their liberty and who profited by this theft every hour that they lived, had no moral ground on which to stand.James Baldwin uses imagery in Sonnys Blues essays on italy to feliks skrzynecki poem essay illuminate the light and darkness from KINT 3320 at Lamar.