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The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride
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The Color of Water Quotes Showing 1-30 of 33
“God is the color of water. Water doesn't have a color.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“I asked her if I was black or white. She replied "You are a human being. Educate yourself or you'll be a nobody!”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“It was always so hot, and everyone was so polite, and everything was all surface but underneath it was like a bomb waiting to go off. I always felt that way about the South, that beneath the smiles and southern hospitality and politeness were a lot of guns and liquor and secrets.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“There's such a big difference between being dead and alive, I told myself, the greatest gift that anyone can give anyone else is life. And the greatest sin a person can do to another is to take away that life. Next to that, all the rules and religions in the world are secondary; mere words and beliefs that people choose to believe and kill and hate by. My life won't be lived that way, and neither, I hope, will my children's.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“Sometimes without conscious realization, our thoughts, our faith, out interests are entered into the past. We talk about other times, other places, other persons, and lose our living hold on the present. Sometimes we think if we could just go back in time we would be happy. But anyone who attempts to reenter the past is sure to be disappointed. Anyone who has ever revisited the place of his birth after years of absence is shocked by the differences between the way the place actually is, and the way he has remembered it. He may walk along old familiar streets and roads, but he is a stranger in a strange land. He has thought of this place as home, but he finds he is no longer here even in spirit. He has gone onto a new and different life, and in thinking longingly of the past, he has been giving thought and interest to something that no longer really exists.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“My parents were nonmaterialistic. They believed that money without knowledge was worthless, that education tempered with religion was the way to climb out of poverty in America, and over the years they were proven right.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“...since I was a little boy, she had always wanted me to go. She was always sending me off on a bus someplace, to elementary school, to camp, to relatives in Kentucky, to college. She pushed me away from her just as she'd pushed my elder siblings away when we lived in New York, literally shoving them out the front door when they left for college. ”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“See, a marriege needs love. And God. And a little money. That's all.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“The greatest gift that anyone can give anyone is LIFE. And the greatest sin a person can do is to take away that life. NEXT to that, all rules and religions in the worldare secondary, mere words and beliefs that people CHOOSE to believe and KILL and HATE by.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“I was so sorry, deep in my heart I was sorry, but all your "sorrys" are gone when a person dies. She was gone. Gone. That's why you have to say all your "sorrys" and "I love yous" while a person is living, because tomorrow isn't promised.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“Sometimes it seemed like the truth was a bandy-legged soul who dashed from one side of the world to the other and I could never find him.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“But at the end of the day, there are some questions that have no answers, and then one answer that has no question: love rules the game. Every time. All the time. That’s what counts.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“You have to choose between what the world expects of you and what you want for yourself,” my sister Jack told me several times. “Put yourself in God’s hands and you can’t go wrong.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“The man was the finest preacher. He could make a frog stand up straight and get happy with Jesus.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“I was ashamed of my mother, but see, love didn't come natural to me until I became a Christian.- Ruth McBride”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“You could see him coming from a distance, appearing out of nowhere like an angel, his silhouette seeming to rise from the ground in the simmering heat . . .”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“As a boy, I never knew where my mother was from---where she was born, who her parents were. When I asked she'd say, "God made me." When I asked if she was white, she'd say, "I'm light-skinned," and change the subject. She raised twelve black children and sent us all to college and in most cases graduate school. Her children became doctors, professors, chemists, teachers---yet none of us even knew her maiden name until we were grown. It took me fourteen years to unearth her remarkable story---the daughter of an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, she married a black man in 1942---and she revealed it more as a favor to me than out of any desire to revisit her past. Here is her life as she told it to me, and betwixt and between the pages of her life you will find mine as well.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“لم تعد لدي دموع لأذرفها فقد نفدت منذ زمن طويل، ولكن ألماً جديداً ووعياً جديداً ولدا في داخلي. بدأ الغموض المتوطن في داخلي يتبخر، وزال الألم الذي شعر به الولد الصغير الذي حدق في المرآة. لقد استيقظت إنسانيتي الخاصة، وصعدت لتحييني بمصافحة، فيما راقبت بزوغ نور الشمس الأول فوق الأفق. قلت لنفسي إن هناك فرقاً كبيراً بين الموت والحياة، وأن أعظم هدية يمكن أن يعطيها الإنسان لشخص آخر هي الحياة، وأن أعظم خطيئة يمكن أن يرتكبها الإنسان بحق شخص آخر هي سلب هذه الحياة، إلى جانب ذلك، فإن جميع القوانين والأديان تصبح شيئاً ثانوياً .. مجرد كلمات ومعتقدات يختار الناس الإيمان بها والكره والقتل باسمها. لن أعيش حياتي على هذا النحو، وآمل أن أولادي لن يعيشوا كذلك أيضاً”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“I asked her who he was and she said, “He was a man ahead of his time.” She actually liked Malcolm X. She put him in nearly the same category as her other civil rights heroes, Paul Robeson, Jackie Robinson, Eleanor Roosevelt, A. Philip Randolph, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Kennedys—any Kennedy. When Malcolm X talked about “the white devil” Mommy simply felt those references didn’t apply to her.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“...but all your 'sorrys' are gone when a person dies... That's why you have to say all your 'sorrys' and 'I love yous' while a person is living, because tomorrow isn't promised.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“My siblings had already instilled the notion of black pride in me. I would have preferred that Mommy were black. Now, as a grown man, I feel privileged to have come from two worlds. My view of the world is not merely that of a black man but that of a black man with something of a Jewish soul. I don’t consider myself Jewish, but when I look at Holocaust photographs of Jewish women whose children have been wrenched from them by Nazi soldiers, the women look like my own mother and I think to myself, There but for the grace of God goes my own mother—and by extension, myself.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“But as a kid, I preferred the black side, and often wished that Mommy had sent me to black schools like my friends. Instead I was stuck at that white school, P.S. 138, with white classmates who were convinced I could dance like James Brown. They constantly badgered me to do the “James Brown” for them, a squiggling of the feet made famous by the “Godfather of Soul” himself, who back in the sixties was bigger than life. I tried to explain to them that I couldn’t dance. I have always been one of the worst dancers that God has ever put upon this earth.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“back,” Daddy said. “It’ll work out.” He had no idea what to do about Helen. They spoke a completely different language. He was an old-timer who called school “schoolin”’ and called me “boy.” He had run off from Jim Crow in the South and felt that education, any education, was a privilege. Helen was far beyond that. Weeks passed, months, and Helen didn’t return. Finally Jack called. “I found her. She’s living with some crazy woman,” Jack said. She told Ma she didn’t know much about the lady other than that she wore a lot of scarves and used incense. Mommy got the address and went to the place herself. It was a dilapidated housing project near St. Nicholas Avenue, with junkies and winos standing out front. Mommy stepped past them and walked through a haze of reefer smoke and took the elevator to the eighth floor. She went to the apartment door and listened. There was music playing on a stereo inside, and the voice of someone on the phone. She knocked on the door. The stereo lowered. “Who is it?” someone asked. It sounded like Helen. “I’m here to see Helen,” Mommy said. Silence. “I know you’re there, Helen,” Mommy said. Silence. “Helen. I want you to come home. Whatever’s wrong we’ll fix. Just forget all of it and come on home.” From down the hallway, a doorway opened and a black woman watched in silence as the dark-haired, bowlegged white lady talked to the closed door. “Please come home, Helen.” The door had a peephole in it. The peephole slid back. A large black eye peered out. “Please come home, Helen. This is no place for you to be. Just come on home.” The peephole closed.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“I always felt that way about the South, that beneath the smiles and southern hospitality and politeness were a lot of guns and liquor and secrets.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“writer or a musician, not knowing that it was possible”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“in fact that’s what I liked about black folks all my life: They never judged me. My black friends never asked me how much money I made, or what school my children went to, or anything like that. They just said, “Come as you are.” Blacks have always been peaceful and trusting.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“Owens, our minister, would get up from his seat and stop the song. He’d sit behind his pulpit in a spiritual trance, his eyes closed, clad in a long blue robe with a white scarf and billowed sleeves, as if he were prepared to float away to heaven himself, until one of Mommy’s clunker notes roused him. One eye would pop open with a jolt, as if someone had just poured cold water down his back. He’d coolly run the eye in a circle, gazing around at the congregation of forty-odd parishioners to see where the whirring noise was coming from. When his eye landed on Mommy, he’d nod as if to say, “Oh, it’s just Sister Jordan”; then he’d slip back into his spiritual trance.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“Family love: It is firm footing, something to cling to in a frightened world that seems to spin out of control with war, turmoil, terrorism, and uncertainty. It is our highest calling and our greatest nobility.”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“was. The constant learning and”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
“There’s”
James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother

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