Read It Slant (On Baldwin)

Minority writers who write about being minorities generally aren’t treated very well in America: too often they are offered up in high school and college courses merely as ritual sacrifices to the gods of multiculturalism. Yet the reason to read James Baldwin, and any good writer regardless of color or creed, is that he can teach us how to be more human. “Pain is trivial except insofar as you can use it to connect with other people’s pain,” Baldwin observed in 1963, “and insofar as you can do that with your pain, you can be released from it, and then hopefully it works the other way around too; insofar as I can tell you what it is to suffer, perhaps I can help you to suffer less.”

Elias Altman


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