The Brooklyn Rail: James Baldwin

GUESTCRITIC

We Pluck this Flower Safely:
James Baldwin and the Present, Nettle Danger

CRITICS PAGE

I am confounded when the elementary assertion that race and its afterlives persist in America as a clinical matter and pathological affair is read as outrageous charge and treasonous indictment.

“A House Built on Bondage Cannot Stand”

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On the eve of the 1980 presidential elections, James Baldwin confessed his inability to account for why “in a nation so boastfully autonomous as the United States we are reduced to the present presidential candidates [who are] as well equipped to run the world as I am to run a post office.”

Each of Us Contains the Other:
James Baldwin’s Steadfast Morality

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Growing up in Harlem in the ’20s and ’30s, James Baldwin had no shortage of reasons to fear the police and to hate the wider white population. In the early ’40s, when he was turned away from a New Jersey diner—the American Diner, no less—he wanted to kill the waitress who told him “We don’t serve Negroes here.”

The General is in the House

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Nigger is a word that Baldwin detested. He could say it, but he could not use it as anything other than a pejorative.

Courting the End of the World:
Heeding James Baldwin’s Invitation to take up a Dangerous Morality

CRITICS PAGE

In a country where morality is too often collapsed into safety—not the protection from physical harm, not the insurance of a basic standard of life, but the false safety that is stability for markets and profitability—James Baldwin summons to us from beyond the grave to boldly practice adangerous morality.

The Victory Not Yet Won

CRITICS PAGE

Watch even a little cable TV or spend time on social media, and you might be tempted to follow the trend of painting this November’s election in stark, simplistic terms: red states vs. blue states, Baby Boomers and Gen X vs. Millennials, men vs. women, black and brown people vs. a resentful white majority.

“Love is a Growing Up”

CRITICS PAGE

I consider James Baldwin’s essays to form part of the firmament, as critical as the North Star, guiding how true my words sound the mettle, do more than spin, and take the written journey from idea to fire.

The Seer: James Baldwin and the (Death) Mask in Immarginations

CRITICS PAGE

If I’da asked my black, Native-looking Gramma about someone like James Baldwin, had they both lived in this day and age, she would have sized him up as a picture, on screen.

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