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All About James Baldwin

 "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." 

Who Is James Baldwin? James Baldwin was an important voice within the civil rights movement, a novelist, playwright and essayist who gave great insight on race, spirituality and humanity. Baldwin was born in 1924 in Harlem, NY. Growing up he published numerous poems, short stories and plays. Writing seemed to be a great outlet for Baldwin. A way to speak his truth. Baldwin grew up experiencing discrimination and racism in various public places. His writings reflected the black experience in America as well as stories of the complexities of homosexuality. What he has written is still applicable to America today. They also shed a little light into his own personal questions, journey through life and what he struggled with through other characters.Some of his most famous work includes the novels Go Tell It on the Mountain, Giovanni's Room, Another Country and Just Above My Head as well as the essays Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time. 

Novels: 

  • Go Tell It on the Mountain is a novel published in 1953 about a young teenage boy and his relationship with his family and his church. This book highlights the black experience within the church and the black communities relationship with it. 
  • Giovanni's Room, published in 1956, is about an American man living in Paris and his frustrations with his relationships with or towards other men, specifically, Giovanni whom he meets at a gay bar. 
  • Another Country is a book, written in 1962, that portrays thoughts in the 1950's about taboo topics such as bisexuality, interracial relationships and affairs. 
  • Just Above My Head is a book published in 1979 about a group of friends and their experiences with war, civil-rights struggles, poverty and more. 

Essays: 

  • Notes of a Native Son is a collection published in 1955 about race in America and Europe. 
  • The Fire Next Time is a book published in 1963 consisting of two essays. The first being a letter to his nephew about the role of racism in America, and the second is about race, religion and the church from his experience as a child. 

All of these writings are depictions of the black experience, spirituality or humanity and sexuality. All worth your time in reading and digesting. 

What Can We Learn? Baldwin stood for love, humanity, ending oppression, speaking truth, all of the things that define what an erasist is and believes in. He was incredibly inspirational and a necessary voice not just for the black community, but also in the gay community. It is not the fault of the person being born that they are what they are, and it was important to Baldwin that we accept and love one another for exactly who a person is and not the idea or perception that may be portrayed. 

"Love takes off the mask we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within."