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James Baldwin on how Suffering is a Bridge

Your suffering does not isolate you. That your suffering is your bridge. That many people have suffered before you, many people are suffering around. And always will.”

James Baldwin


In 1971 James Baldwin and Nikki Giovanni taped a two-hour “dialogue” for a public TV show called Soul! At forty-seven years old, Baldwin was a legend speaking with Giovanni, then twenty-eight, who had published the 1968 poetry collection Black Feeling, Black Talk. All rights to Soul! and ShoutFactoryTV.com.


Full interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Jc54RvDUZU&t=5294s


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Edited Transcript:

The one thing you had to do, is try to tell the truth.


And what everyone overlooks is that in order to do it, I can only tell you about yourself as much as I can face it about myself.


You go through your life for a long time. You think that no one has ever suffered the way I've suffered. You know, my God, my God.


And then you realize, you read something, you hear something, and you realize that your suffering does not isolate you.


That your suffering is your bridge. That many people have suffered before you,

many people are suffering around. And always will.


And all you can do is bring hopefully a little light into that suffering,

enough light to the person who is suffering can begin to comprehend his suffering,

and begin to live with it and begin to change it, to change his situation.


We don't change anything.


All we can do is invest people with the morale to change it for themselves.