James Baldwin—The Price of the Ticket

James Baldwin,The Price of a Ticket

“If everyone had been in love they’d treat their children differently, they’d treat each other differently. It’s about love; it’s about the price of love…people don’t seem to realize that.”

James Baldwin was born in 1927 in Harlem, New York. At the time of his death on December 1, 1989 he had become and still is, an important voice for the rights of all people. He was, as the documentary provides, a brother, spirit, and a writer.

It was in a local library in  Harlem that he read every book, and this knowledge of the world became his cornerstone. He felt a connection that he shared with those who read his stories and novels; for those who listened to his passionate debates about race, prejudice, and equality in the United States. In The Price of the Ticket he said, “Nothing is more important than being human.”

This documentary about the author, playwright, traveler, and civil rights activist grants the viewer a prolific opportunity.

He left for Paris in 1948 because of the social injustice in the United States. He wanted to be a writer and so he fled America to, as he said, “vomit the bitterness.” His rite of passage began in Paris, but, most notably, as an American writer.

He then traveled to a small village in Switzerland to focus on nothing but writing. In The Price of a Ticket we learn that this remote place was all white, from the people to the blankets of snow. Here he wrote and enjoyed the time with the village  people while producing his literature.

James Baldwin was a proud black homosexual, but the “details didn’t make any difference,” as he said. “Love comes in very strange packages. I loved a few men, I loved a few women. And a few people have loved me.” When he goes back to the United States to visit his brother in New York, a new man appears in James Baldwin. The passages of travel and writing made James change, as his brother would note—a wiser individual.

James began a new novel, a story that he would labor through before he decided to make another trip outside of the United States, to Istanbul, Turkey. It is here in that he completes Another Country, his first best seller.

James Baldwin
James Baldwin

Another Country is a story based on the relationships between blacks and whites. Published in 1962 this book is about love, lust, and friendships crossing the color barrier; sometimes retreating from that barrier because of race. Another Country also addresses the challenge of interracial relationships and homosexual relationships, once again, crossing the color line. This novel is remarkable because it entails the stories of a group of people, who attempt to discover their own identities.

James Baldwin came to back to the United States to participate in the Civil Rights Movement. He was concerned about the injustices that black people were dealing with so he headed to the South to seek and listen to his people.

“The flag has not pledged allegiance to you…”

At that time, we learn in The Price for a Ticket, Baldwin had a moral obligation to spread the gospel. To actively inform people; to debate the moral issues of the day, that: “All men are brothers.”

He wrote a play about class warfare called, Blues for Mr. Charlie. This play was an honest view of life from a black man’s perspective. In Blues for Mr. Charlie, characters represented leaders of the black community, such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. These different ideas to gain equal rights produced a raw representation of society at that time. Although, some called him a propagandist for pushing the issue of a failed system for blacks, he vehemently defended it. As Maya Angelou stated about her close friend, her brother, “Jimmy’s not bitter…He’s angry against stupidity.”

The Price of a Ticket is a brilliant account of James Baldwin’s life. What we gain from his life and literary accomplishments will only make us better people. In the end, I believe that is what James Baldwin’s would have hoped for, a better life for all—equally.

To Preview this documentary of YouTube, click here: The Price of a Ticket

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