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The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

The Fire Next Time (1963)

by James Baldwin

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2,797653,455 (4.23)191
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 the body politic, James Baldwin galvanized the nation in the early days of the civil rights movement with his eloquent manifesto.

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» See also 191 mentions

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This book feels incredibly timeless and important. I'm sad that it took me this long to get around to reading anything by Baldwin but am incredibly glad I am now. ( )
  Hilaurious | Jun 2, 2020 |
After reading [b:Between the World and Me|25489625|Between the World and Me|Ta-Nehisi Coates|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1451435027l/25489625._SY75_.jpg|44848425] by Ta-Nehisi Coates, I was turned on to James Baldwin and specifically The Fire Next Time.

For very obvious reasons. Both are written the same way, deal with many of the same themes if not the same examples, and they're both written in a way that makes me feel like I'm the one it's written for. Gently, with love, consideration, and not a little wallop of anger against those who are perceived bad, but to the whole situation and how everyone deserves a small modicum of pity.

We are what we do, after all. We are as we are taught. It's up to all of us to think critically and don't ignore inconvenient facts.

In a lot of ways, this personal memoir-ish work of nonfiction is old-school. A lot of us have already internalized most of its teachings. But that shouldn't be so surprising... most of it is pretty universal and obvious. That's including the inherent anger.

A lot of us feel this way and it doesn't matter what your skin color is. The setup is just rotten.

The question is: where do we go from here?

I agree with Baldwin's sentiment: Understanding. It doesn't mean agreement, but it sure as hell means empathy. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Written over 50 years ago, yet still shockingly relevant. ( )
1 vote j_tuffi | May 30, 2020 |
Read 2016. ( )
  sasameyuki | May 11, 2020 |
Excellent essay (and a letter to his nephew) that continues to be relevant today, over 56-years later. So many of the reflections provide greater depth and understanding into our collective past as well as our collective present where much work remains to bring equality and understanding to American society.

A few quotes from the book that I appreciated:

Whoever debases others is debasing himself.

I am called Baldwin because I was either sold by my African tribe or kidnapped out of it into the hands of a white Christian named Baldwin, who forced me to kneel at the foot of the cross. I am, then, both visibly and legally the descendent of slaves in a white, Protestant country, and this is what it means to be an American Negro, this is who he is -- a kidnapped pagan, who was sold like an animal and treated like one.

Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves and totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, stepless, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have. It seems to me that one out to rejoice in the fact of death – ought to decide, indeed, to earn one's death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible to life: it is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come into which we shall return.

The price of the liberation of the white people is the liberation of the blacks – the total liberation, in the cities, and the towns, before the law, and in the mind. ( )
  kenley | May 7, 2020 |
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"God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
No more water, the fire next time!"
for James
Luc James
First words
Dear James:
I have begun this letter five times and torn it up five times.
Whoever debases others is debasing himself.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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