… but no one was interested in the facts. They preferred the invention because this invention expressed and corroborated their hates and fears so perfectly. It is just as well to remember that people are always doing this. Perhaps many of those legends, including Christianity, to which the world clings began their conquest of the world with just some such concerted surrender to distortion.

-James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son

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img_0325-e1515425105374.jpgWith these several schisms in the mind and with more terrors in the heart than could be named, it was better not to judge the man who had gone down under an impossible burden.

-James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son

I can conceive of no Negro native to this country who has not, by the age of puberty, been irreparably scarred by the conditions of his life. All over Harlem, Negro boys and girls are growing into stunted maturity, trying desperately to find a place to stand; and the wonder is not that so many are ruined but that so many survive.

-James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son

And the North Americans appear to believe these legends [of white supremacy], which they have created and which absolutely nothing in reality corroborates, until today. And when these legends are attacked, as is happening now — all over a globe which has never been and never will be White — my countrymen become childishly vindictive and unutterably dangerous.

-James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son

It is not pleasant to be forced to recognize, more than thirty years later [in 1984], that neither this dynamic [of race relations] nor this necessity [to find one’s place in it] have changed. There have been superficial changes, with results at best ambiguous and, at worst, disastrous. Morally, there has been no change at all and a moral change is the only real one. … The only real change vividly discernible in this present, unspeakably dangerous chaos is a panic-stricken apprehension on the part of those who have maligned and subjugated others for so long that the tables have been turned.

-James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son