It is hard to find the right words to describe my admiration to James Baldwin’s approach and way of thinking. His voice and speeches are magnetizing. He had the ability to see the picture clearly when at the same time managing to stay entirely objective and open the mind of his listener. James was everything that our society did not want him to be. A black, gay, wise man.
“I am saying that a journey is called that because you can’t know what you will discover on the journey, what you will do with what you find or what you find will do to you”.
The 40’s in America, segregation touches everything and everyone. James understood things that most people didn’t and still don’t. “When you ask your questions, you begin to know more about what you think”. People do not stop to ask, to wonder and decide whether what they are doing is moral, whether they are treating a certain person right, and whether they are taking advantage of their power.
“I have been taken in hand by a young white schoolteacher, named Bill Miller, a beautiful woman, very important to me. She gave me books to read and talked to me about the books and about the world, about Ethiopia, and Italy and the German third Reich, and took me to see plays and films to which no one else would have dreamed of taking a ten-year-old boy. It is certainly because of Bill Miller who arrived in my terrifying life so soon that I never really managed to hate white people… Therefore I began to suspect that white people did not act as they did because they were white, but for some other reason”.
Why did the white man have a need to create segregation? To feel stronger and higher because he couldn’t be high enough on his own without creating an illusion of a race lower than his own? Why does schoolchild find himself a victim to beat and humiliate? Is it to make oneself look stronger and braver because he is not confident enough in his own skin? Or because he can’t seem and feel strong enough without having a victim who will be “lower” than him? Colonialism accompanied by greedy leaders created a story for the people to believe in, and they did. In fact, they still do.
“There are days, when you wonder, what your role is in this country and what your future in it is. How precisely are you going to reconcile yourself to your situation here and how we are going to communicate to the vast unthinking, cruel white majority that you are here and terrified…”
“If we were Irish, if we were Jewish, if we were Poles, if we had in fact in your mind a frame of reference, our heroes would be your heroes too. When the Israelis pick up guns, or the Poles or the Irish or any white man in the world says ‘Give me liberty, or give me death’ the entire white world applauds, when a black man says exactly the same thing, word for word, he is judged criminal and treated like one”.