#art/#history: 'i imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.'
james baldwin, born #otd in 1924, was a sage for the ages. his observations on society - from race & class to sex - were too much for harlem to hold...even from one of its native sons. james knew from the start that he was more intelligent than anyone expected him to be & he realised that he'd have to do something with his brain. by the time he was 24 years old, james began to understand that america was a hostile environment for black homosexuals & he wanted to be free of the racial constraints he'd endured up until then. paris embraced him & he began to write from a context outside of that of an african-american. he didn't abandon his birth country, however, & returned to lend his unique perspective (somewhere equidistant from the general tolerance of MLK & the more overtly militant malcolm x) to the civil rights movement. returning to france, he continued writing poetry & fiction - both on his own & through collaborations with margaret mead & richard avedon. amongst his friends & admirers? nina simone, marlon brando, sartre, jean genet, josephine baker & maya angelou...
if you've never read any baldwin, start with 'giovanni's room'.