Jimmy Santiago Baca

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Jimmy Santiago Baca (born January 2, 1952) is a Chicano-American poet and writer.


  • I was institutionalized from age five to thirty years, first in an orphanage and then in prison. I kept running away and escaping and escaping and escaping . . . I had tried to escape so many times. When I got to prison I refused to work; I wanted to learn—I wanted an education. I was ready to give my life for an education…
  • The white kids are being conditioned to feel superior—so you can’t attack the whites, you have to attack the system. But we have to attack with loving ourselves first. If we don’t love more, we ain’t revolutionizing nothin’. People who love themselves won’t tolerate deception; they won’t tolerate oppression…
  • People of color and poor people, we have a self-hatred that is somehow like a virus, and the second you come out of your mother’s womb, the virus comes to you—that if you’re poor, and you’re a person of color, you have self-hatred. But each of us who gets educated—we educate those around us. Education for itself is worthless, but making education yours is priceless. I tell all of my students to make it theirs…
  • Not knowing how to read and write is only the top of that morbid state of being. Not knowing how to read and write leads to not knowing where windows come from, how cars are made, how people pay for cars. Not knowing how to read and write is only the top of the problem, because behind that wall you don't know anything and how anything operates in society, and that's the nightmare.

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