Americanah Quotes

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Americanah Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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Americanah Quotes (showing 1-30 of 457)
“The only reason you say that race was not an issue is because you wish it was not. We all wish it was not. But it’s a lie. I came from a country where race was not an issue; I did not think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America. When you are black in America and you fall in love with a white person, race doesn’t matter when you’re alone together because it’s just you and your love. But the minute you step outside, race matters. But we don’t talk about it. We don’t even tell our white partners the small things that piss us off and the things we wish they understood better, because we’re worried they will say we’re overreacting, or we’re being too sensitive. And we don’t want them to say, Look how far we’ve come, just forty years ago it would have been illegal for us to even be a couple blah blah blah, because you know what we’re thinking when they say that? We’re thinking why the fuck should it ever have been illegal anyway? But we don’t say any of this stuff. We let it pile up inside our heads and when we come to nice liberal dinners like this, we say that race doesn’t matter because that’s what we’re supposed to say, to keep our nice liberal friends comfortable. It’s true. I speak from experience.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“Racism should never have happened and so you don't get a cookie for reducing it.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“If you don't understand, ask questions. If you're uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It's easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here's to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“Why did people ask "What is it about?" as if a novel had to be about only one thing.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“Race doesn't really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don't have that choice.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“Dear Non-American Black, when you make the choice to come to America, you become black. Stop arguing. Stop saying I'm Jamaican or I'm Ghanaian. America doesn't care.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“How easy it was to lie to strangers, to create with strangers the versions of our lives we imagined.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“She rested her head against his and felt, for the first time, what she would often feel with him: a self-affection. He made her like herself.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
tags: love
“Relaxing your hair is like being in prison. You're caged in. Your hair rules you. You didn't go running with Curt today because you don't want to sweat out this straightness. You're always battling to make your hair do what it wasn't meant to do.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“If you’re telling a non-black person about something racist that happened to you, make sure you are not bitter. Don’t complain. Be forgiving. If possible, make it funny. Most of all, do not be angry. Black people are not supposed to be angry about racism. Otherwise you get no sympathy. This applies only for white liberals, by the way. Don’t even bother telling a white conservative about anything racist that happened to you. Because the conservative will tell you that YOU are the real racist and your mouth will hang open in confusion.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“Alexa and the other guests, and perhaps even Georgina, all understood the fleeing from war, from the kind of poverty that crushed human souls, but they would not understand the need to escape from the oppressive lethargy of choicelessness. They would not understand why people like him who were raised well fed and watered but mired in dissatisfaction, conditioned from birth to look towards somewhere else, eternally convinced that real lives happened in that somewhere else, were now resolved to do dangerous things, illegal things, so as to leave, none of them starving, or raped, or from burned villages, but merely hungry for for choice and certainty.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“She rested her head against his and felt, for the first time, what she would often feel with him: a self-affection. He made her like herself. With him, she was at ease; her skin felt as though it was her right size.. It seemed so natural, to talk to him about odd things. She had never done that before. The trust, so sudden and yet so complete, and the intimacy, frightened her.. But now she could think only of all the things she yet wanted to tell him, wanted to do with him.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“When it comes to dressing well, American culture is so self-fulfilled that it has not only disregarded this courtesy of self-presentation, but has turned that disregard into a virtue. "We are too superior/busy/cool/not-uptight to bother about how we look to other people, and so we can wear pajamas to school and underwear to the mall.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“That her relationship with him was like being content in a house but always sitting by the window and looking out”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“...there was cement in her soul. It had been there for a while, an early morning disease of fatigue, shapeless desires, brief imaginary glints of other lives she could be living, that over the months melded into a piercing homesickness.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“Oppression Olympics is what smart liberal Americans say to make you feel stupid and to make you shut up. But there IS an oppression olympics going on. American racial minorities - blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Jews - all get shit from white folks, different kinds of shit but shit still. Each secretly believes that it gets the worst shit. So, no, there is no United League of the Oppressed. However, all the others think they're better than blacks because, well, they're not black.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“In America, racism exists but racists are all gone. Racists belong to the past. Racists are the thin-lipped mean white people in the movies about the civil rights era. Here’s the thing: the manifestation of racism has changed but the language has not. So if you haven’t lynched somebody then you can’t be called a racist. If you’re not a bloodsucking monster, then you can’t be called a racist. Somebody has to be able to say that racists are not monsters.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“There were people thrice her size on the Trenton platform and she looked admiringly at one of them, a woman in a very short skirt. She thought nothing of slender legs shown off in miniskirts--it was safe and easy, after all, to display legs of which the world approved--but the fat woman's act was about the quiet conviction that one shared only with oneself, a sense of rightness that others failed to see.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“He was already looking at their relationship through the lens of the past tense. It puzzled her, the ability of romantic love to mutate, how quickly a loved one could become a stranger. Where did the love go? Perhaps real love was familial, somehow, linked to blood, since love for children did not die as romantic love did.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“Maybe it’s time to just scrap the word “racist.” Find something new. Like Racial Disorder Syndrome. And we could have different categories for sufferers of this syndrome: mild, medium, and acute.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“I'm chasing you. I'm going to chase you until you give this a chance.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
tags: love
“Understanding America for the Non-American Black: Thoughts on the Special White Friend

One great gift for the Zipped-Up Negro is The White Friend Who Gets It. Sadly, this is not as common as one would wish, but some are lucky to have that white friend who you don’t need to explain shit to. By all means, put this friend to work. Such friends not only get it, but also have great bullshit-detectors and so they totally understand that they can say stuff that you can’t. So there is, in much of America, a stealthy little notion lying in the hearts of many: that white people earned their place at jobs and schools while black people got in because they were black. But in fact, since the beginning of America, white people have been getting jobs because they were white. Many whites with the same qualifications but Negro skin would not have the jobs they have. But don’t ever say this publicly. Let your white friend say it. If you make the mistake of saying this, you will be accused of a curiosity called “playing the race card.” Nobody quite knows what this means.

When my father was in school in my NAB (Non American Black) country, many American Blacks could not vote or go to good schools. The reason? Their skin color. Skin color alone was the problem. Today, many Americans say that skin color cannot be part of the solution. Otherwise it is referred to as a curiosity called “reverse racism.” Have your white friend point out how the American Black deal is kind of like you’ve been unjustly imprisoned for many years, then all of a sudden you’re set free, but you get no bus fare. And, by the way, you and the guy who imprisoned you are now automatically equal. If the “slavery was so long ago” thing comes up, have your white friend say that lots of white folks are still inheriting money that their families made a hundred years ago. So if that legacy lives, why not the legacy of slavery? And have your white friend say how funny it is, that American pollsters ask white and black people if racism is over. White people in general say it is over and black people in general say it is not. Funny indeed. More suggestions for what you should have your white friend say? Please post away. And here’s to all the white friends who get it.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“Academics were not intellectuals; they were not curious, they built their stolid tents of specialized knowledge and stayed securely in them.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“They never said “I don’t know.” They said, instead, “I’m not sure,” which did not give any information but still suggested the possibility of knowledge.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“I realized that if I ever have children, I don't want them to have American childhoods. I don't want them to say 'Hi' to adults I want them to say 'Good morning' and 'Good afternoon'. I don't want them to mumble 'Good' when someone says 'How are you?' to them. Or to raise five fingers when asked how old they are. I want them to say 'I'm fine thank you' and 'I'm five years old'. I don't want a child who feeds on praise and expects a star for effort and talks back to adults in the name of self-expression. Is that terribly conservative?”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“She had always liked this image of herself as too much trouble, as different, and she sometimes thought of it as a carapace that kept her safe.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“There are many different ways to be poor in the world but increasingly there seems to be one single way to be rich.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
tags: poor, rich
“They themselves mocked Africa, trading stories of absurdity, of stupidity, and they felt safe to mock, because it was a mockery born of longing, and of the heartbroken desire to see a place made whole again.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“But of course it makes sense because we are Third Worlders and Third Worlders are forward-looking, we like things to be new, because our best is still ahead, while in the West their best is already past and so they have to make a fetish of that past.Remember this is our newly middle-class world. We haven’t completed the first cycle of prosperity, before going back to the beginning again, to drink milk from the cow’s udder.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
“To have money, it seemed, was to be consumed by money.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

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