I am convinced that the Dreamers [of a white America], at least the Dreamers of today, would rather live white than live free.

-Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

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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

I pride myself with having discerned even then the symptoms of what is so clear today, when a kind of family circle has gradually been formed, linking representatives of all nations, jolly empire-builders in their jungle clearings, French policemen, the unmentionable German product, the good old churchgoing Russian and Polish pogromshchik, the lean American lyncher, [and] the man with the bad teeth who squirts antiminority stories in the bar or the lavatory…

-Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory

It is hard enough, God knows, under the best of circumstances, to get an education in this country. White children are graduated yearly who can neither read, write, nor think, and who are in a state of the most abysmal ignorance concerning the world around them. But at least they are white. They are under the illusion–which, since they are so badly educated, sometimes has a fatal tenacity–that they can do whatever they want to do. Perhaps that is exactly what they are doing, in which case we had best all go down in prayer.

-James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name

The world has never lacked for horrifying examples [even if Birmingham is worse, no doubt Johannesburg, South Africa, beats it by several miles, and Buchenwald was one of the worst things that ever happened in the entire history of the world]; but I do not believe that these examples are meant to be used as justification for our own crimes. This perpetual justification empties the heart of all human feeling. The emptier our hearts become, the greater will be our crimes.

-James Baldwin, Fifth Avenue, Uptown: A Letter from Harlem