The Discovery of What it Means to be American – James Baldwin (1961)

1946-1989, Black, Date, Subjectives of Refusal

In these essays written during his time in Paris, Baldwin reflects on his efforts to find and build relationships around his unique identity as an individual, rather than his identity as an African American, or even the son of slaves. Baldwin speaks of a reconciliation he was able to come to in Europe, as a result of the lack of “social paranoia” that exists in the United States. This reconciliation was apparently one that helped him come to terms with his identity as it was defined in the United States in a way that released him from the illusion of thinking he hated the United States.

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