What is most terrible is that American white [people] are not prepared to believe my version of the story, to believe that it happened. In order to avoid believing that, they have set up for themselves a fantastic system of evasions, denials, and justifications, which system is about to destroy their grasp of reality, which is another way of saying their moral sense. . . .And every white citizen of this country will have to accept the fact that he is not innocent. . .Black people will have to do something very hard, too, which is to allow the white citizen his first awkward steps toward maturity.
James Baldwin, “The White Problem” (1964), in James Baldwin, The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings, ed. Randall Kenan (New York: Pantheon Books, 2010), 79.