African Americans Quotes

Quotes tagged as "african-americans" Showing 1-30 of 700
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
“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

Idowu Koyenikan
“Most people write me off when they see me.
They do not know my story.
They say I am just an African.
They judge me before they get to know me.
What they do not know is
The pride I have in the blood that runs through my veins;
The pride I have in my rich culture and the history of my people;
The pride I have in my strong family ties and the deep connection to my community;
The pride I have in the African music, African art, and African dance;
The pride I have in my name and the meaning behind it.
Just as my name has meaning, I too will live my life with meaning.
So you think I am nothing?
Don’t worry about what I am now,
For what I will be, I am gradually becoming.
I will raise my head high wherever I go
Because of my African pride,
And nobody will take that away from me.”
idowu koyenikan, Wealth for all Africans: How Every African Can Live the Life of Their Dreams

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

Angie Thomas
“I've seen it happen over and over again: a black person gets killed just for being black, and all hell breaks loose. I’ve tweeted RIP hashtags, reblogged pictures on Tumblr, and signed every petition out there. I always said that if I saw it happen to somebody, I would have the loudest voice, making sure the world knew what went down.

Now I am that person, and I’m too afraid to speak.”
Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give

Maya Angelou
“The Black female is assaulted in her tender years by all those common forces of nature at the same time that she is caught in the tripartite crossfire of masculine prejudice, white illogical hate and Black lack of power.

The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance.”
Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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

Angie Thomas
“My son loved working in the neighborhood," One-Fifteen's father claims. "He always wanted to make a difference in the lives there."

Funny. Slave masters thought they were making a difference in black people’s lives too. Saving them from their “wild African ways.” Same shit, different century. I wish people like them would stop thinking that people like me need saving.”
Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas
“Daddy once told me there's a rage passed down to every black man from his ancestors, born the moment they couldn't stop the slave masters from hurting their families. Daddy also said there's nothing more dangerous than when that rage is activated.”
Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give

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

Frederick Douglass
“I have observed this in my experience of slavery,--that whenever my condition was improved, instead of its increasing my contentment, it only increased my desire to be free, and set me to thinking of plans to gain my freedom. I have found that, to make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason. He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought to that only when he ceased to be a man.”
Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

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

Viet Thanh Nguyen
“Country music was the most segregated kind of music in America, where even whites played jazz and even blacks sang in the opera. Something like country music was what lynch mobs must have enjoyed while stringing up their black victims. Country music was not necessarily lynching music, but no other music could be imagined as lynching’s accompaniment. Beethoven’s Ninth was the opus for Nazis, concentration camp commanders, and possibly President Truman as he contemplated atomizing Hiroshima, classical music the refined score for the high-minded extermination of brutish hordes. Country music was set to the more humble beat of the red-blooded, bloodthirsty American heartland. It was for fear of being beaten to this beat that black soldiers avoided the Saigon bars where their white comrades kept the jukeboxes humming with Hank Williams and his kind, sonic signposts that said, in essence, No Niggers.
Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer

Claudia Rankine
“Nobody notices, only you've known,

you're not sick, not crazy,
not angry, not sad--

It's just this, you're injured.”
Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric

Colson Whitehead
“If niggers were supposed to have their freedom, they wouldn't be in chains. If the red man was supposed to keep hold of his land, it'd still be his. If the white man wasn't destined to take this new world, he wouldn't own it now.

Here was the true Great Spirit, the divine thread connecting all human endeavor--if you can keep it, it is yours. Your property, slave or continent. The American imperative.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

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

W.E.B. Du Bois
“Daily the Negro is coming more and more to look upon law and justice, not as protecting safeguards, but as sources of humiliation and oppression. The laws are made by men who have little interest in him; they are executed by men who have absolutely no motive for treating the black people with courtesy or consideration; and, finally, the accused law-breaker is tried, not by his peers, but too often by men who would rather punish ten innocent Negroes than let one guilty one escape.”
W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

Angie Thomas
“That's the hate they're giving us, baby, a system designed against us. That's Thug Life.”
Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give

W.E.B. Du Bois
“To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.”
W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

Ibram X. Kendi
“One of racism’s harms is the way it falls on the unexceptional Black person who is asked to be extraordinary just to survive—and, even worse, the Black screwup who faces the abyss after one error, while the White screwup is handed second chances and empathy. This shouldn't be surprising: One of the fundamental values of racism to White people is that it makes success attainable for even unexceptional Whites, while success, even moderate success, is usually reserved for extraordinary Black people.”
Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist

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

Martin Luther King Jr.
“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”
Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can't Wait

Paul Beatty
“I understand now that the only time black people don't feel guilty is when we've actually done something wrong, because that relieves us of the cognitive dissonance of being black and innocent, and in a way the prospect of going to jail becomes a relief.”
Paul Beatty, The Sellout

James Baldwin
“For, you see, he had found his center, his own center, inside him: and it showed. He wasn’t anybody’s nigger. And that’s a crime, in this fucking free country. You’re suppose to be somebody’s nigger. And if you’re nobody’s nigger, you’re a bad nigger: and that’s what the cops decided when Fonny moved downtown.”
James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk

Colson Whitehead
“White man trying to kill you slow every day, and sometimes trying to kill you fast. Why make it easy for him? That was one kind of work you could say no to.”
Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

Martin Luther King Jr.
“Even today there still exists in the South--and in certain areas of the North--the license that our society allows to unjust officials who implement their authority in the name of justice to practice injustice against minorities. Where, in the days of slavery, social license and custom placed the unbridled power of the whip in the hands of overseers and masters, today--especially in the southern half of the nation--armies of officials are clothed in uniform, invested with authority, armed with the instruments of violence and death and conditioned to believe that they can intimidate, maim or kill Negroes with the same recklessness that once motivated the slaveowner. If one doubts this conclusion, let him search the records and find how rarely in any southern state a police officer has been punished for abusing a Negro.”
Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can't Wait

W.E.B. Du Bois
“[I]n any land, in any country under modern free competition, to lay any class of weak and despised people, be they white, black, or blue, at the political mercy of their stronger, richer, and more resourceful fellows, is a temptation which human nature seldom has withstood and seldom will withstand.”
W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

Angie Thomas
“It would be easy to quit if it was just about me, Khalil, that night, and that cop. It's about way more than that though. It's about Seven. Sekani. Kenya. DeVante.

It's also about Oscar.
Aiyana.
Trayvon.
Rekia.
Michael.
Eric.
Tamir.
John.
Ezell.
Sandra.
Freddie.
Alton.
Philando.

It's even about that little boy in 1955 who nobody recognized at first--Emmett.

The messed-up part? There are so many more.

Yet I think it'll change one day. How? I don't know. When? I definitely don't know. Why? Because there will always be someone ready to fight. Maybe it's my turn.”
Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give

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