There There Quotes

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There There There There by Tommy Orange
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There There Quotes Showing 1-30 of 150
“If you were fortunate enough to be born into a family whose ancestors directly benefited from genocide and/or slavery, maybe you think the more you don’t know, the more innocent you can stay, which is a good incentive to not find out, to not look too deep, to walk carefully around the sleeping tiger. Look no further than your last name. Follow it back and you might find your line paved with gold, or beset with traps.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“This is the thing: If you have the option to not think about or even consider history, whether you learned it right or not, or whether it even deserves consideration, that’s how you know you’re on board the ship that serves hors d’oeuvres and fluffs your pillows, while others are out at sea, swimming or drowning, or clinging to little inflatable rafts that they have to take turns keeping inflated, people short of breath, who’ve never even heard of the words hors d’oeuvres or fluff.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“The spider's web is a home and a trap.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“Kids are jumping out the windows of burning buildings, falling to their deaths. And we think the problem is that they’re jumping. This is what we’ve done: We’ve tried to find ways to get them to stop jumping. Convince them that burning alive is better than leaving when the shit gets too hot for them to take. We’ve boarded up windows and made better nets to catch them, found more convincing ways to tell them not to jump. They’re making the decision that it’s better to be dead and gone than to be alive in what we have here, this life, the one we made for them, the one they’ve inherited.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“We are the memories we don't remember, which live in us, which we feel, which make us sing and dance and pray the way we do, feelings from memories that flare and bloom unexpectedly in our lives like blood through a blanket from a wound made by a bullet fired by a man shooting us in the back for our hair, for our heads, for a bounty, or just to get rid of us.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“She told me the world was made of stories, nothing else, just stories, and stories about stories.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“The wound that was made when white people came and took all that they took has never healed. An unattended wound gets infected. Becomes a new kind of wound like the history of what actually happened became a new kind history. All these stories that we haven’t been telling all this time, that we haven’t been listening to, are just part of what we need to heal. Not that we’re broken. And don’t make the mistake of calling us resilient. To not have been destroyed, to not have given up, to have survived, is no badge of honor. Would you call an attempted murder victim resilient?”
Tommy Orange, There There
“Maxine makes me read her Indian stuff that I don’t always get. I like it, though, because when I do get it, I get it way down at that place where it hurts but feels better because you feel it, something you couldn’t feel before reading it, that makes you feel less alone, and like it’s not gonna hurt as much anymore.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“That's what she loves about Motown, the way it asks you to carry sadness and heartbreak but dance while doing so.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“We’ve been defined by everyone else and continue to be slandered despite easy-to-look-up-on-the-internet facts about the realities of our histories and current state as a people. We have the sad, defeated Indian silhouette, and the heads rolling down temple stairs, we have it in our heads, Kevin Costner saving us, John Wayne’s six-shooter slaying us, an Italian guy named Iron Eyes Cody playing our parts in movies. We have the litter-mourning, tear-ridden Indian in the commercial (also Iron Eyes Cody), and the sink-tossing, crazy Indian who was the narrator in the novel, the voice of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. We have all the logos and mascots. The copy of a copy of the image of an Indian in a textbook. All the way from the top of Canada, the top of Alaska, down to the bottom of South America, Indians were removed, then reduced to a feathered image. Our heads are on flags, jerseys, and coins. Our heads were on the penny first, of course, the Indian cent, and then on the buffalo nickel, both before we could even vote as a people—which, like the truth of what happened in history all over the world, and like all that spilled blood from slaughter, are now out of circulation.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“We didn't have last names before they came. When they decided they needed to keep track of us, last names were given to us, just like the name "INDIAN" itself was given to us. These were attempted translations and botched Indian names, random surnames, and names passed down from white American generals, admirals, and colonels, and sometimes troop names, which were sometimes just colors.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“Some of us got this feeling stuck inside, all the time, like we’ve done something wrong. Like we ourselves are something wrong.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“There’s a secret war on women going on in the world. Secret even to us. Secret even though we know it.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“Apologies don’t even mean as much as just…just acknowledging that you fucked up, hurt people, and that you don’t wanna do that anymore. Not to yourself either. That’s sometimes the hardest part.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“Silence is not just silence but is not speaking up.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“The problem with believing is you have to believe that believing will work, you have to believe in belief.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“Life will do its best to get at you. Sneak up from behind and shatter you, into tiny unrecognizable pieces. You have to be ready to pick everything up pragmatically. Keep your head down and make it work.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“This is the thing: If you have the option to not think about or even consider history, whether you learned it right or not, or whether it even deserves consideration, that’s how you know you’re on board the ship that serves hors d’oeuvres and fluffs your pillows, while others are out at sea, swimming or drowning, or clinging to little inflatable rafts that they have to take turns keeping inflated, people short of breath, who’ve never even heard of the words hors d’oeuvres or fluff. Then someone from up on the yacht says, “It’s too bad those people down there are lazy, and not as smart and able as we are up here, we who have built these strong, large, stylish boats ourselves, we who float the seven seas like kings.” And then someone else on board says something like, “But your father gave you this yacht, and these are his servants who brought the hors d’oeuvres.” At which point that person gets tossed overboard by a group of hired thugs who’d been hired by the father who owned the yacht, hired for the express purpose of removing any and all agitators on the yacht to keep them from making unnecessary waves, or even referencing the father or the yacht itself. Meanwhile, the man thrown overboard begs for his life, and the people on the small inflatable rafts can’t get to him soon enough, or they don’t even try, and the yacht’s speed and weight cause an undertow. Then in whispers, while the agitator gets sucked under the yacht, private agreements are made, precautions are measured out, and everyone quietly agrees to keep on quietly agreeing to the implied rule of law and to not think about what just happened. Soon, the father, who put these things in place, is only spoken of in the form of lore, stories told to children at night, under the stars, at which point there are suddenly several fathers, noble, wise forefathers. And the boat sails on unfettered.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“They took everything and ground it down to dust as fine as gunpowder, they fired their guns into the air in victory and the strays flew out into the nothingness of histories written wrong and meant to be forgotten. Stray bullets and consequences are landing on our unsuspecting bodies even now.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“When you hear stories from people like you, you feel less alone. When you feel less alone, and like you have a community of people behind you, alongside you, I believe you can live a better life.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“Opal and Jacquie’s mom never let them kill a spider if they found one in the house, or anywhere for that matter. Her mom said spiders carry miles of web in their bodies, miles of story, miles of potential home and trap. She said that’s what we are. Home and trap.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“It's important he dress like an Indian, dance like an Indian, even if it is an act, even if he feels like a fraud the whole time, because the only way to be Indian in this world is to look and act like an Indian. To be or not to be Indian depends on it.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“Being Indian has never been about returning to the land. The land is everywhere or nowhere.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“An Urban Indian belongs to the city, and cities belong to the earth. Everything here is formed in relation to every other living and nonliving thing from the earth. All our relations. The process that brings anything to its current form—chemical, synthetic, technological, or otherwise—doesn’t make the product not a product of the living earth. Buildings, freeways, cars—are these not of the earth? Were they shipped in from Mars, the moon? Is it because they’re processed, manufactured, or that we handle them? Are we so different? Were we at one time not something else entirely, Homo sapiens, single-celled organisms, space dust, unidentifiable pre-bang quantum theory? Cities form in the same way as galaxies.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“Time has us. It holds us in it's mouth like an owl holds a field mouse. We shiver, we struggle for release, and then it pecks out our eyes and intestines for sustenance and we die the death of field mice.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“Getting us to cities was supposed to be the final, necessary step in our assimilation, absorption, erasure, the completion of a five-hundred-year-old genocidal campaign. But the city made us new, and we made it ours. We didn’t get lost amid the sprawl of tall buildings, the stream of anonymous masses, the ceaseless din of traffic. We found one another, started up Indian Centers, brought out our families and powwows, our dances, our songs, our beadwork. We bought and rented homes, slept on the streets, under freeways; we went to school, joined the armed forces, populated Indian bars in the Fruitvale in Oakland and in the Mission in San Francisco. We lived in boxcar villages in Richmond. We made art and we made babies and we made way for our people to go back and forth between reservation and city. We did not move to cities to die. The sidewalks and streets, the concrete, absorbed our heaviness. The glass, metal, rubber, and wires, the speed, the hurtling masses—the city took us in.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“We all been through a lot we don’t understand in a world made to either break us or make us so hard we can’t break even when it’s what we need most to do.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“Your face in the mirror, reflected back at you, most people don’t even know what it looks like anymore. That thing on the front of your head, you’ll never see it, like you’ll never see your own eyeball with your own eyeball, like you’ll never smell what you smell like, but me, I know what my face looks like. I know what it means.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“There's something about seeing Johnny Depp fail so badly that gives me strength.”
Tommy Orange, There There
“In 1637, anywhere from four to seven hundred Pequot gathered for their annual Green Corn Dance. Colonists surrounded their village, set it on fire, and shot any Pequot who tried to escape. The next day the Massachusetts Bay Colony had a feast in celebration, and the governor declared it a day of thanksgiving. Thanksgivings like these happened everywhere, whenever there were what we have to call “successful massacres.” At one such celebration in Manhattan, people were said to have celebrated by kicking the heads of Pequot people through the streets like soccer balls.”
Tommy Orange, There There

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