Stranger in the Village
...All of the physical characteristics of the Negro which had caused me, in America, a very different and almost forgotten pain were nothing less than miraculous- or infernal- in the eyes of the village people. Some thought my hair was the color of tar, that it had the texture of wire, or the texture of cotton….In all of this, in which it must be conceded there was the charm of genuine wonder and in which there were certainly no element of intentional unkindness, there was yet no suggestion that I was human: I was simply a living wonder....
African American essayist, novelist, and social activist. Baldwin was born in Harlem, became a minister at fourteen, and grew to maturity in an America disfigured by racism and homophobia. He moved to Paris in 1948 believing that only outside the United States could he be read as not merely a Negro; or, even, merely a Negro writer. Both his first published novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953), and his first play, The Amen Corner (1955), are autobiographical explorations of race and identity. Although he would write other plays, Baldwin concentrated his energies on essays and novels such as Giovanni's Room (1956) and Another Country (1962). His stories are collected in Going to Meet the Man (1965); his essay collections, including Notes of a Native Son (1955) and The Fire Next Time (1963), demonstrate Baldwin's skills as a social critic of insight and passion. See also kirjasto.sci.fi/jbaldwin.htm.