New York During The 1920's

1310 Words6 Pages
Growing up in Harlem, New York during the 1920’s and 30’s, James Baldwin was a young Black man desperate for a place of acceptance. Surrounded by drugs and prostitution Baldwin saw a change in his neighborhood and his friends as they got older. With his friends beginning to drink and smoke Baldwin knew times were changing. He became very aware of the bodily development of the girls and the boys around him, to his surprise, he was even more enticed by the changes in the boys (Baldwin 17). During this time, Baldwin and his friends would begin to experience the racism that White America had to offer. No longer shielded by their age or naivety they had to face the fact that they were not accepted because of their skin color. With this…show more content…
During the summer while surrounded by gangs and pimps, Baldwin quickly found himself diving into the Christian faith in order to find safety. Every day walking down the streets of Harlem, Baldwin found himself fighting off the pressures of succumbing to the terrible conditions around him. Everyday he sees someone new disappearing and going off to prison; he refused to be another Black prison story. One day, his friend takes him to church because of his fears for Baldwin’s salvation. Immediately Baldwin is caught off guard by the female Pastor and all of her power in the community. She asks him, “Whose little boy are you?” (Baldwin 28). This simple question gives Baldwin flashbacks to all the pimps and racketeers who have accosted him in the past. Baldwin, feeling a spiritual seduction replies with “Why, yours”. It appears they all knew that Baldwin wanted to desperately to be “somebody’s little boy” (28). Although he had a family he never felt comfortable or accepted; he wanted and felt that the world could offer more than his family did. The deeper Baldwin got into Christianity, he realized that the religion was not one for him. This was Baldwin’s first step in Maslow’s self actualization, he was asking himself questions like, how his life got to this hateful place?
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