“It comes as a great shock to discover the country which is your birthplace and to which you owe your life and your identity has not, in its whole system of reality, evolved any place for you.” James Baldwin
“I don’t know what most white people in this country feel but I can only conclude what they feel from the state of their institutions. I don’t know if white Christians hate Negroes or not, but I know we have a Christian church that is white and a Christian church that is black. I know, as Malcolm X once put it, the most segregated hour in American life is high noon on Sunday. That says a great deal for me about a Christian nation. It means I can’t afford to trust most white Christians, and I certainly cannot trust the Christian church. I don’t know whether the labor unions and their bosses really hate me—that doesn’t matter—but I know I’m not in their union. I don’t know whether the real estate lobby has anything against black people, but I know the real estate lobby is keeping me in the ghetto. I don’t know if the board of education hates black people, but I know the textbooks they give my children to read and the schools we have to go to. Now this is the evidence. You want me to make an act of faith, risking myself, my wife, my woman, my sister, my children on some idealism which you assure me exists in America, which I have never seen.” James Baldwin
“Because we live in a nation that has begun its path to democracy by putting stumbling blocks in our way, we’ve got to start moving those blocks.” Stacey Abrams
“Love one another deeply, from the heart.”
1 Peter 1:22b NIV
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Are you offended by Baldwin’s critique of church and country?
- Can you attempt to imagine living his experience? . . . feeling as he does?
- Do you notice “stumbling blocks” meant for people of color where you live? Do you want them moved out of the way? Think about your answer.
Abba, teach me what it means to love deeply, from the heart. Truly.
For More: James Baldwin on Dick Cavett (1968)
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