Black Boy Quotes

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Black Boy Black Boy by Richard Wright
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Black Boy Quotes (showing 1-30 of 77)
“Whenever my environment had failed to support or nourish me, I had clutched at books...”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of the hunger for life that gnaws in us all.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“Reading was like a drug, a dope. The novels created moods in which I lived for days.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“Our too-young and too-new America, lusty because it is lonely, aggressive because it is afraid, insists upon seeing the world in terms of good and bad, the holy and the evil, the high and the low, the white and the black; our America is frightened of fact, of history, of processes, of necessity. It hugs the easy way of damning those whom it cannot understand, of excluding those who look different, and it salves its conscience with a self-draped cloak of righteousness”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“I did not know if the story was factually true or not, but it was emotionally true [...].”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
tags: truth
“It was not a matter of believing or disbelieving what I read, but of feeling something new, of being affected by something that made the look of the world different.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“I was not leaving the south to forget the south, but so that some day I might understand it”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“I knew that I lived in a country in which the aspirations of black people were limited, marked-off. Yet I felt that I had to go somewhere and do something to redeem my being alive.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“My mother's suffering grew into a symbol in my mind, gathering to itself all the poverty, the ignorance, the helplessness; the painful, baffling, hunger-ridden days and hours; the restless moving, the futile seeking, the uncertainty, the fear, the dread; the meaningless pain and the endless suffering. Her life set the emotional tone of my life, colored the men and women I was to meet in the future, conditioned my relation to events that had not yet happened, determined my attitude to situations and circumstances I had yet to face. A somberness of spirit that I was never to lose settled over me during the slow years of my mother's unrelieved suffering, a somberness that was to make me stand apart and look upon excessive joy with suspicion, that was to make me keep forever on the move, as though to escape a nameless fate seeking to overtake me.
At the age of twelve, before I had one year of formal schooling, I had a conception of life that no experience would ever erase, a predilection for what was real that no argument could ever gainsay, a sense of the world that was mine and mine alone, a notion as to what life meant that no education could ever alter, a conviction that the meaning of living came only when one was struggling to wring a meaning out of meaningless suffering.
At the age of twelve I had an attitude toward life that was to endure, that was to make me seek those areas of living that would keep it alive, that was to make me skeptical of everything while seeking everything, tolerant of all and yet critical. The spirit I had caught gave me insight into the sufferings of others, made me gravitate toward those whose feelings were like my own, made me sit for hours while others told me of their lives, made me strangely tender and cruel, violent and peaceful.
It made me want to drive coldly to the heart of every question and it open to the core of suffering I knew I would find there. It made me love burrowing into psychology, into realistic and naturalistic fiction and art, into those whirlpools of politics that had the power to claim the whole of men's souls. It directed my loyalties to the side of men in rebellion; it made me love talk that sought answers to questions that could help nobody, that could only keep alive in me that enthralling sense of wonder and awe in the face of the drama of human feeling which is hidden by the external drama of life.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“But the color of a Negro's skin makes him easily recognizable, makes him suspect, converts him into a defenseless target”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“Hunger has always been more or less at my elbow when I played, but now I began to wake up at night to find hunger standing at my bedside, staring at my gauntly.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“I listened, vaguely knowing now that I had committed some awful wrong that I could not undo, that I had uttered words I could not recall even though I ached to nullify them, kill them, turn back time to the moment before I had talked so that I could have another chance to save myself.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“It made me love talk that sought answers to questions that could help nobody, that could only keep alive in me that enthralling sense of wonder and awe in the face of the drama of human feeling which is hidden by the external drama of life.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“Ought one to surrender to authority even if one believed that that authority was wrong? If the answer was yes, then I knew that I would always be wrong, because I could never do it. Then how could one live in a world in which one's mind and perceptions meant nothing and authority and tradition meant everything? There were no answers.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“..when I tried to talk to him I realized that, though ties of blood made us kin, though I could see a shadow of my face in his face, though there was an echo of my voice in his voice, we were forever strangers, speaking a different language, living on vastly distant planes of reality”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“The southern whites would rather have had Negroes who stole, work for them than Negroes who knew, however dimly, the worth of their own humanity. Hence, whites placed a premium upon black deceit; they encouraged irresponsibility; and their rewards were bestowed upon us blacks in the degree that we could make them feel safe and superior.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“Their constant outward-looking, their mania for radios, cars, and a thousand other trinkets made them dream and fix their eyes upon the trash of life, made it impossible for them to learn a language which could have taught them to speak of what was in their or others' hearts. The words of their souls were the syllables of popular songs.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“In me was shaping a yearning for a kind of consciousness, a mode of being that the way of life about me had said could not be, must not be, and upon which the penalty of death had been placed. Somewhere in the dead of the southern night my life had switched onto the wrong track and without my knowing it, the locomotive of my heart was rushing down a dangerously steep slope, heading for a collision, heedless of the warning red lights that blinked all about me, the sirens and the bells and the screams that filled the air.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“My days and nights were one long, quiet, continuously contained dream of teror, tension, and anxiety. I wondered how long I could bear it.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“Wherever I found religion in my life I found strife, the attempt of one individual or group to rule another in the name of God. The naked will to power seemed always to walk in the wake of a hymn.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“If you possess enough courage to speak out what you are, you will find you are not alone.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“Held at bay by the hate of others, preoccupied with his own feelings, he was continuously at war with reality.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“It would have been impossible for me to have told anyone what I derived from these novels, for it was nothing less than than a sense of life itself. All my life had shaped me for the realism, the maturalism of the modern novel, and I could not read enough of them.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“...it was no longer a matter of whether I would steal or lie or murder; it was a simple, urgent matter of public pride, a matter of how much I had in common with other people.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“I feel that for white America to understand the significance of the problem of the Negro will take a bigger and tougher America than any we have yet known. I feel that America's past is too shallow, her national character too superficially optimistic, her very morality too suffused with color hate for her to accomplish so vast and complex a task. Culturally the Negro represents a paradox: Though he is an organic part of the nation, he is excluded by the ride and direction of American culture. Frankly, it is felt to be right to exclude him, and it if felt to be wrong to admit him freely. Therefore if, within the confines of its present culture, the nation ever seeks to purge itself of its color hate, it will find itself at war with itself, convulsed by a spasm of emotional and moral confusion. If the nation ever finds itself examining its real relation to the Negro, it will find itself doing infinitely more than that; for the anti-Negro attitude of whites represents but a tiny part - though a symbolically significant one - of the moral attitude of the nation. Our too-young and too-new America, lusty because it is lonely, aggressive because it is afraid, insists upon seeing the world in terms of good and bad, the holy and the evil, the high and the low, the white and the black; our America is frightened of fact, of history, of processes, of necessity. It hugs the easy way of damning those whom it cannot understand, of excluding those who look different, and it salves its conscience with a self-draped cloak of righteousness. Am I damning my native land? No; for I, too, share these faults of character! And I really do not think that America, adolescent and cocksure, a stranger to suffering and travail, an enemy of passion and sacrifice, is ready to probe into its most fundamental beliefs.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“...I wish I could be an example to you..."
I knew that I had conquered him, had rid myself of him mentally and emotionally; but I wanted to be sure.
"You are not an example to me; you could never be," I spat at him. "You're a warning.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“(If I were a member of the class that rules, I would post men in all the neighborhoods of the nation, not to spy upon or club rebellious workers, not to break strikes or disrupt unions; but to ferret out those who no longer respond to the system in which they live. I would make it known that the real danger does not stem from those who seek to grab their share of wealth through force, or from those who try to defend their property through violence, for both of these groups, by their affirmative acts, support the values of the system in which they live. The millions that I would fear are those who do not dream of the prizes that the nation holds forth, for it is in them, though they may not know it, that a revolution has taken place and is biding its time to translate itself into a new and strange way of life.)”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“If the stars twinkled more than usual on any given night, it meant that the angels in heaven were happy and were flitting across the doors of heaven; and since stars were merely holes ventilating heaven, the twinkling came from the angels flitting past the holes that admitted air into the holy home of God.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“With ever watchful eyes and bearing scars, visible and invisible, I headed North, full of a hazy notion that life could be lived with dignity, that the personalities of others should not be violated, that men should be able to confront other men without fear or shame, and that if men were lucky in their living on earth they might win some redeeming meaning for the having struggled and suffered here beneath the stars.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of the hunger of life that gnaws in us all, to keep alive in our hearts a sense of the inexpressibly human”
Richard Wright, Black Boy

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