Whenever you hear names like James Baldwin, what comes to mind? One would answer with names like Martin Luther King, Malcom X, Rosa Parks etcetera. These are highlighters of the civil rights movement during its dark days. Agitating was never enough back then, being able to be heard is the most essential part of living at that time. One voice that stood those times was James Arthur Baldwin.
James Arthur Baldwin grew up like every black man in 1924, born into a black family with father whose absence was strongly to have been drug abuse. His mother later married a preacher David Baldwin and had siblings. James grew up in the harsh whimpers of loneliness, as society reminded him he was always black. James said he knew he was black, but he was also smart. Growing up in Harlem was a muse Baldwin shared all the time as he started writing at an early age. He later converted his works into prose, essays, poems and even books.
Known for his outspoken heart, James had started by taking up small roles in school during a drama. This invigorated the talent of standing before people to voice out his heart and be heard by many, who had the heart to listen. Later in his life, he recounted the many experiences of growing up in Harlem, his views on religion, sexuality of man, going abroad to live after the suicide of his friend and so many other experiences.
Today in our society, people like James Arthur Baldwin have created a platform for some of the rights by which the world lives on. Due to the level of racism suffered during his time that lead to the deaths of Martin Luther King Jnr and Malcom X, Baldwin stories through his books have enacted the society to still believe in the hashtag ‘Black Lives Matter’.
As a writer, Baldwin never succumbed to any characterization, rejecting every political label, sexual label. He questioned the notion of racial identity as he wrote in his book ‘The Fire Next Time’ “Color is not human or a personal reality”. James was always obsessed in making all beings equal. This is what the free world is all about, equality among all people, no segregation of whatsoever kind. Ideas as such has really affected the society, as these days’ homosexuality is beginning to break bounds in some countries.
Approaching some sensitive subjects and themes like this, is what the 21st century has been trying to deal with. James questioned the idea of institutionalizing as one time he explained in his essay My Dungeon Shook, James wrote
“The details and symbols of your life have been deliberately constructed to make you believe what white people say about you. Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does it testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity and fear”
The society today take steps from the writings of such brilliant black writer, essayist and poet to heal some part of its wounds. With the world increasing in population, writers growing daily, manuscripts like that of James Arthur Baldwin puts some dreamers on course and propagates their mind to talk about the ills always faced in the society.