James Baldwin and Nikki Giovanni “A Conversation”. Full Broadcast Video

The Criminal Justice System Is Perpetually Broken

Sadly, this is still among Baldwin’s most relevant quotes. As we see on a daily basis, there are two legal systems in this country. “If one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country, one does not question the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, or the protected members of the middle class,” Baldwin wrote in his book No Name on the Street. “One goes to the unprotected–those, precisely, who need the law’s protection most–and listens to their testimony.”


For the rich and powerful, there seems to be very little accountability for their actions. However, if a Black kid finds themself in the wrong neighborhood, that could be a death sentence because police aren’t interested in hearing their side of the story. Even more infuriating, it doesn’t seem like anything is going to change anytime soon.

He Was Ahead of His Time on Sexuality

Considering how Republicans have made attacking the LGBTQ+ community their main legislative goal, this quote from his book Conversations with James Baldwin still rings very true.


“Everybody’s journey is individual. If you fall in love with a boy, you fall in love with a boy,” he said. “The fact that many Americans consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality.”

And of course, he was right. The only reason these people are so obsessed with judging and punishing the LGBTQ+ community is for the cruelty. Someone gave them a platform to announce what they think is the moral way to live, and if we don’t all conform, they’ve decided they’re going to make us. This brings me to another famous Baldwin quote, where he writes in Giovanni’s Room, “There are so many ways of being despicable it quite makes one’s head spin. But the way to be really despicable is to be contemptuous of other people’s pain.”