The Fire Next Time
At once a powerful evocation of his early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice--to both the individual and America at large--The Fire Next Time, which galvanized the nation in the early days of the civil rights mov...more
The letter to the American people was more compelling to me than the one to his nephew. It discussed the racist realities in the USA, and also religion, Christianity (which James Baldwin adhered to, for a while at least) and the Nation of Is ...more
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. It is this individual uncertainty on the part of white American men and women, this inability to renew themselves at the fountain of their own lives, that makes the discussion, let alone elucidation, of any conundrum—that is, any reality—so supremely difficult. The person who distrusts himself has no touchstone for reali...more
from Baldwin: Collection of Essays - The Library of America
This book is Baldwin's opinion on race relations, perceived not only as a Negro, but as one with a deep insight into human psychology. He was one of the unprecedented writers to express what it was like to be Negro in a white society; to discuss with such insight the psychological impediments most Negroes faced; and to realize the complications of Negro-white relations in many variant contexts:
He sa ...more
The universe, which is not merely the stars and the moon...more
and the planets, flowers, grass, and trees, but other people,
has evolved no terms for your existence, has made no room for you, and
if love will not swing wide the gates, no other power will or can. And
if one despairs- as who has not?- of human love, God's alone is left.
But God- and I felt this even then, so long ago, on that tremendous
floor, unwillingly- is white. And if his love was so great, and if He
loved all his children, why were we, t
This book is so beautiful and clear. Baldwin has forced himself, against all the violence heaped upon him and those around him, not to see through hatred and think through hatred, which would be just after all. He outlines and touches on so many of the issues that are still real and painful in America and in the UK too, where white supremacy persists like a weed that keeps springing back up. It's almost depressing to read his words in 1963, words of courageous optimism and hop ...more
It can be objected that I am speaking of political freedom in spiritual terms, but the political institutions of any nation are always menaced and are ultimately controlled by the spiritual state of that nation. We are controlled here by our confusion, far more than we know, and the American dream has therefore become something much more closely resembling a nightmare, on the private, domestic, and international levels. Privately, we cannot stand our lives and dare not examine ...more
I had a hard copy in college (in the 80s) of this book and thought it was too angry and unfortunately never read it in its entirety (only 100 pages mind you). Listening now as I’ve lived life a little, I see that it was my inability to process and interpret he ...more
I want to believe that the World has come a long way since the 50s. I am ...more
TAKE ME, GAWD.
I wanna find Baldwin and hug him and cry into his arms and tell him thanks.
Why isn't this mandatory reading?
I don't get it.
It's impossible to 'review' this book. All I want to do is shout and tell everyone to read it. I don't know whether some people think it is outdated, but if that is the case, I would like to say that it isn't. I was reading this book and thinking about the state of America, right now. Thinking about the Black American expe ...more
This was an interesting read by a very interesting man. The book is a collection of two publications: a letter to his nephew on the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and an article in which he recounts his time as a pentecostal minister and his encounters with Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X as well as the NOI m ...more
“The word ‘safety’ brings us to the real meaning of the word ‘religious’ as we use it.”
while exerting the compassion of their messiahs,
“The really terrible thing, old buddy, is that you (Baldwin’s nephew) must accept them (whi ...more
Baldwin recounts his childhood, growing up in Harlem, including reflections on his experiences in the church, his observations of poverty, and his run-ins with hustlers and the street-life. He combines this with a passionate and convincing psychological and sociological inquiry into racism.
In both pieces, Baldw ...more
Amazing, untimely, and hauntingly prophetic. Massively tiny tome of brilliance.
Should be read by every human being on the planet!
The point of these essays is simple: there are no easy answers. The Nation of Islam seems like ...more
As those of us who are not black have become painfully aware nothing in the lives of black Americans has changed in 53 years. Our president is black and the deep antagonism to him by too many Americans has nothing to do with his politics and everything to do with his race. The police are trigger happy and violent, killing blacks who walk in the street (Fe ...more
I got it from the library but will keep my eyes open for a copy for my shelves. Besides the quotes on its main age I found this important (p. 102):
Baldwin's father has died and his mother given birth to his youngest sibling on the same day:
"I knew...that bitterness was folly. The dead man mattered, the new life mattered; blackness and whiteness did not m ...more
What struck me this time through, in the wake of Trayvon Martin and Ferguson (and countless other cases that didn't make the news) is that Baldwin's warning is at least as immediate today as it was just before the Rodney King riots. I can see no reason to believe we're not on the verge of another explosion, the only difference (and in some ways the LA riot wasn't different) being that the bitterness and rage that were centered in the black communit ...more
The storyline moves into an exploration of the Nation of Islam. Mr. Bal ...more
Though quite short, I got completely lost in Baldwin's ruminations. The Fire Next Time is a disjointed mixture of personal anecdotes about religion and broad philosophical indictments of white supremacy.
Baldwin relates a few negative experiences that he's had with Christianity and the Nation of Islam, including a very strange dinner party with Nation of Islam prophet Elijah Muhammed. If Baldwin was using these stories to make a larger point about religion ...more
the beauty of cultural studies is that you can take each of ...more
James Arthur Baldwin was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic.
James Baldwin offered a vital literary voice during the era of civil rights activism in the 1950s and '60s. The eldest of nine children, his stepfather was a minister. At age 14, Bal ...more