African Americans Quotes

Quotes tagged as "african-americans" (showing 1-30 of 108)
Ta-Nehisi Coates
“I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates
“You are growing into consciousness, and my wish for you is that you feel no need to constrict yourself to make other people comfortable.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates
“You must resist the common urge toward the comforting narrative of divine law, toward fairy tales that imply some irrepressible justice. The enslaved were not bricks in your road, and their lives were not chapters in your redemptive history. They were people turned to fuel for the American machine. Enslavement was not destined to end, and it is wrong to claim our present circumstance—no matter how improved—as the redemption for the lives of people who never asked for the posthumous, untouchable glory of dying for their children. Our triumphs can never compensate for this.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

Colson Whitehead
“And America, too, is a delusion, the grandest one of all. The white race believes--believes with all its heart--that it is their right to take the land. To kill Indians. Make war. Enslave their brothers. This nation shouldn't exist, if there is any justice in the world, for its foundations are murder, theft, and cruelty. Yet here we are.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead
“Slavery is a sin when whites were put to the yoke, but not the African. All men are created equal, unless we decide you are not a man.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

Ta-Nehisi Coates
“You may have heard the talk of diversity, sensitivity training, and body cameras. These are all fine and applicable, but they understate the task and allow the citizens of this country to pretend that there is real distance between their own attitudes and those of the ones appointed to protect them. The truth is that the police reflect America in all of its will and fear, and whatever we might make of this country’s criminal justice policy, it cannot be said that it was imposed by a repressive minority. The abuses that have followed from these policies—the sprawling carceral state, the random detention of black people, the torture of suspects—are the product of democratic will. And so to challenge the police is to challenge the American people who send them into the ghettos armed with the same self-generated fears that compelled the people who think they are white to flee the cities and into the Dream. The problem with the police is not that they are fascist pigs but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

James Baldwin
“There is no reason for you to try to become like white people and there is no basis whatever for their impertinent assumption that they must accept you. The terrible thing, old buddy, is that you must accept them. And I mean that very seriously. You must accept them and accept them with love. For these innocent people have no other hope. They are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it. They have had to believe for many years, and for innumerable reasons, that black men are inferior to white men. Many of them, indeed, know better, but, as you will discover, people find it very difficult to act on what they know.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Toni Morrison
“Whitepeople believed that whatever the manners, under every dark skin was a jungle. Swift unnavigable waters, swinging screaming baboons, sleeping snakes, red gums ready for their sweet white blood. In a way, he thought, they were right. The more coloredpeople spent their strength trying to convince them how gentle they were, how clever and loving, how human, the more they used themselves up to persuade whites of something Negroes believed could not be questioned, the deeper and more tangled the jungle grew inside. But it wasn’t the jungle blacks brought with them to this place from the other (livable) place. It was the jungle whitefolks planted in them. And it grew. It spread. In, through and after life, it spread, until it invaded the whites who had made it. Touched them every one. Changed and altered them. Made them bloody, silly, worse than even they wanted to be, so scared were they of the jungle they had made. The screaming baboon lived under their own white skin; the red gums were their own.”
Toni Morrison, Beloved

James Weldon Johnson
“It’s no disgrace to be black, but it’s often very inconvenient.”
James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

Paul Robeson
“This is the basis, and I am not being tried for whether I am a Communist, I am being tried for fighting for the right of my people, who are still second-class citizens in this United States of America”
Paul Robeson

James Baldwin
“There appears to be a vast amount of confusion on this point, but I do not know many Negroes who are eager to be "accepted" by white people, still less to be loved by them; they, the blacks, simply don't wish to be beaten over the head by the whites every instant of our brief passage on this planet. White people in this country will have quite enough to do in learning how to accept and love themselves and each other, and when they have achieved this -- which will not be tomorrow and will not be today and may very well be never -- the Negro problem will no longer exist, for it will no longer be needed.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Aberjhani
“The best of humanity's recorded history is a creative balance between horrors endured and victories achieved, and so it was during the Harlem Renaissance.”
Aberjhani, Journey through the Power of the Rainbow: Quotations from a Life Made Out of Poetry

Christopher Hitchens
“Mrs. Clinton, speaking to a black church audience on Martin Luther King Day last year, did describe President George W. Bush as treating the Congress of the United States like 'a plantation,' adding in a significant tone of voice that 'you know what I mean ...'

She did not repeat this trope, for some reason, when addressing the electors of Iowa or New Hampshire. She's willing to ring the other bell, though, if it suits her. But when an actual African-American challenger comes along, she rather tends to pout and wince at his presumption (or did until recently).”
Christopher Hitchens

Toni Morrison
“Those white things have taken all I had or dreamed," she said, "and broke my heartstrings too. There is no bad luck in the world but whitefolks.”
Toni Morrison, Beloved

Ta-Nehisi Coates
“We invoke the words of Jefferson and Lincoln because they say something about our legacy and our traditions. We do this because we recognize our links to the past--at least when they flatter us. But black history does not flatter American democracy; it chastens it. The popular mocking of reparations as a harebrained scheme authored by wild-eyed lefties and intellectually unserious black nationalists is fear masquerading as laughter. Black nationalists have always perceived something unmentionable about America that integrationists dare not acknowledge --that white supremacy is not merely the work of hotheaded demagogues, or a matter of false consciousness, but a force so fundamental to America that it is difficult to imagine the country without it.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy

Ta-Nehisi Coates
“When it comes to the Civil War, all of our popular understanding, our popular history and culture, our great films, the subtext of our arguments are in defiance of its painful truths. It is not a mistake that Gone with the Wind is one of the most read works of American literature or that The Birth of a Nation is the most revered touchstone of all American film. Both emerge from a need for palliatives and painkillers, an escape from the truth of those five short years in which 750,000 American soldiers were killed, more than all American soldiers killed in all other American wars combined, in a war declared for the cause of expanding "African slavery." That war was inaugurated not reluctantly, but lustily, by men who believed property in humans to be the cornerstone of civilization, to be an edict of God, and so delivered their own children to his maw. And when that war was done, the now-defeated God lived on, honored through the human sacrifice of lynching and racist pogroms. The history breaks the myth. And so the history is ignored, and fictions are weaved into our art and politics that dress villainy in martyrdom and transform banditry into chivalry, and so strong are these fictions that their emblem, the stars and bars, darkens front porches and state capitol buildings across the land to this day.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy

Rudy Francisco
“Being black is one of the most extreme sports in America.
We don't need to invent new ways of risking our lives
because the old ones have been working for decades.”
Rudy Francisco, Helium

Ta-Nehisi Coates
“By the time I visited those battlefields, I knew that they had been retrofitted as the staging ground for a great deception, and this was my only security, because they could no longer insult me by lying to me. I knew—and the most important thing I knew was that, somewhere deep with them, they knew too. I like to think that knowing might have kept me from endangering you, that having understood and acknowledged the anger, I could control it. I like to think that it could have allowed me to speak the needed words to the woman and then walk away. I like to think this, but I can’t promise it. The struggle is really all I have for you because it is the only portion of this world under your control.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

James Weldon Johnson
“And this is the dwarfing, warping, distorting influence which operates upon each and every colored man in the United States. He is forced to take his outlook on all things, not from the viewpoint of a citizen, or a man, or even a human being, but from the viewpoint of a colored man. It is wonderful to me that the race has progressed so broadly as it has, since most of its thought and all of its activity must run through the narrow neck of this one funnel.”
James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

John             Lewis
“By the force of our demands, our determination and our numbers, we shall splinter the segregated South into a thousand pieces and put them back together in the image of God and democracy.”
John Lewis, March: Book Two

James Weldon Johnson
“I noticed that among this class of colored men the word "nigger" was freely used in about the same sense as the word "fellow," and sometimes as a term of almost endearment; but I soon learned that its use was positively and absolutely prohibited to white men.”
James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

James Weldon Johnson
“It is a difficult thing for a white man to learn what a colored man really thinks; because, generally, with the latter an additional and different light must be brought to bear on what he thinks; and his thoughts are often influenced by considerations so delicate and subtle that it would be impossible for him to confess or explain them to one of the opposite race.”
James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

James Weldon Johnson
“I can imagine no more dissatisfied human being than an educated, cultured, and refined colored man in the United States.”
James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

James Weldon Johnson
“We hit slavery through a great civil war. Did we destroy it? No, we only changed it into hatred between sections of the country: in the South, into political corruption and chicanery, the degradation of the blacks through peonage, unjust laws, unfair and cruel treatment; and the degradation of the whites by their resorting to these practices, the paralyzation of the public conscience, and the ever over-hanging dread of what the future may bring.”
James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

James Weldon Johnson
“Do you know, I don't object to anyone's having prejudices so long as those prejudices don't interfere with my personal liberty.”
James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

James Weldon Johnson
“Whenever I hear protests from the South that it should be left alone to deal with the Negro question, my thoughts go back to that scene of brutality and savagery. I do not see how a people that can find in its conscience any excuse whatever for slowly burning to death a human being, or for tolerating such an act, can be entrusted with the salvation of a race.”
James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

James Weldon Johnson
“The Southern whites are not yet living quite in the present age; many of their general ideas hark back to a former century, some of them to the Dark Ages. In the light of other days they are sometimes magnificent. Today they are often cruel and ludicrous.”
James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

James Weldon Johnson
“I had made my mind up that since I was not going to be a Negro, I would avail myself of every possible opportunity to make a white man's success; and that, if it can be summed up in any one word, means "money.”
James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

Nikki Giovanni
“It is interesting that a guy like W.E.B. Du Bois, who actually did very little, I should imagine, with his hands, wrote about "I am the smoke king." Without the labor, both free and slave, of African Americans this country would still be a wilderness.”
Nikki Giovanni, Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy Like My Sister Kate: Looking At The Harlem Renaissance Through Poems

Nikki Giovanni
“I always thought that would be really neat if black people ever got control of the United States we would, of course, tear down some of the statues because we just don't like them...like all of Richmond would probably not have a statue standing.”
Nikki Giovanni, Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy Like My Sister Kate: Looking At The Harlem Renaissance Through Poems

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