African American Quotes (218 quotes)

African American Quotes

Quotes tagged as "african-american" Showing 1-30 of 218
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
“Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.”
Henry Louis Gates Jr

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

Toni Morrison
Black literature is taught as sociology, as tolerance, not as a serious, rigorous art form.”
Toni Morrison

W.E.B. Du Bois
“The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife, -- this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost... He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American...”
W. E. B. DuBois, Souls of Black Folk & Era of Franklin D. Roosevelt 1933-1945 & Movements of the New Left 1950-1975

W.E.B. Du Bois
“The South believed an educated Negro to be a dangerous Negro. And the South was not wholly wrong; for education among all kinds of men always has had, and always will have, an element of danger and revolution, of dissatisfaction and discontent. Nevertheless, men strive to know.”
W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

James Baldwin
“Literature is indispensable to the world. The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way a person looks at reality, then you can change it.”
James Baldwin

Angela Y. Davis
“Pregressive art can assist people to learn not only about the objective forces at work in the society in which they live, but also about the intensity social character of their interior lives. Ultimately, it can propel people toward social emancipation”
Angela Davis

Richard Wright
“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

Richard Wright
“The white folks like for us to be religious, then they can do what they want to with us.”
Richard Wright, Native Son

James Baldwin
“Whose little boy are you?”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

N.K. Jemisin
“There is a strange emptiness to life without myths.

I am African American — by which I mean, a descendant of slaves, rather than a descendant of immigrants who came here willingly and with lives more or less intact. My ancestors were the unwilling, unintact ones: children torn from parents, parents torn from elders, people torn from roots, stories torn from language. Past a certain point, my family’s history just… stops. As if there was nothing there.

I could do what others have done, and attempt to reconstruct this lost past. I could research genealogy and genetics, search for the traces of myself in moldering old sale documents and scanned images on microfiche. I could also do what members of other cultures lacking myths have done: steal. A little BS about Atlantis here, some appropriation of other cultures’ intellectual property there, and bam! Instant historically-justified superiority. Worked great for the Nazis, new and old. Even today, white people in my neck of the woods call themselves “Caucasian”, most of them little realizing that the term and its history are as constructed as anything sold in the fantasy section of a bookstore.

These are proven strategies, but I have no interest in them. They’ll tell me where I came from, but not what I really want to know: where I’m going. To figure that out, I make shit up.”
N.K. Jemisin

Melissa V. Harris-Perry
“The disobedience if Eve in the Genesis story has been used to justify women's inequality and suffering in many Christian traditions. Thus, what is understood as women's complicity in evil leads much traditional theological reflection on suffering to offer the "consequent admonition to 'grin and bear it' because such is the deserved place of women." Similarly, when Jesus is seen as a divine co-sufferer, the potentially liberating narratives of Jesus as a revolutionary leader who takes the side of the poor and dispossessed can be ignored in favor of religious beliefs more interested in Jesus as a stoic victim. Christ's suffering is inverted and used to justify women's continued suffering in systems of injustice by framing it as redemptive.”
Melissa V. Harris-Perry, Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

Sean Liburd
“If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.- Toni Morrison”
Sean Liburd

Jonathan Anthony Burkett
“I understand we all have our differences. But while learning about history I've read about white people coming together, Jews coming together, Spanish coming together, different cultures and religions understanding and coming together despite their differences. Slavery was never something that shocked me. What shocks me is how black people have not yet overcome the odds and we're such strong smart people. Why we can't just stand together?”
Jonathan Anthony Burkett

“Words are power. The more words you know and can recognize, use, define, understand, the more power you will have as a human being... The more language you know, the more likely it is that no one can get over on you."

selection from book: Our Difficult Sunlight: A Guide to Poetry, Literacy & Social Justice in Classroom & Community”
Quraysh Ali Lansana & Georgia A. Popoff

“America is a young dumb country and it needs all kinds of help. America is a dumb puppy with big teeth that bite and hurt. And we take care of America. We hold America to our bosom; we feed America, we make love to America. There wouldn't be an America if it wasn't for black people. So you have some dedicated black Americans who will die a million deaths to save America. And this is home for us. We don't know really about Africa. We talk it in a romantic sense, but America is it. And so, America is always going to be okay as long as black people don't totally lose their mind, cause we'll pick up the pieces and turn it into a new dance.”
Abiodun Oyewole

“Slavery is a memory of something we cannot remember, and yet we cannot forget.”
Bill T. Jones

Miranda Parker
“If I weren't so screwed up, I would've sold my soul a long time ago for a handsome man who made me feel pretty or who could at least treat me to a Millionaire's Martini. Instead I lingered over a watered down Sparkling Apple and felt sorry about what I was about to do to the blue-eyed bartender standing in front of me. Although I shouldn’t, after all, I am a bail recovery agent. It's my job to get my skip, no matter the cost.If I weren't so screwed up, I would've sold my soul a long time ago for a handsome man who made me feel pretty or who could at least treat me to a Millionaire's Martini. Instead I lingered over a watered down Sparkling Apple and felt sorry about what I was about to do to the blue-eyed bartender standing in front of me. Although I shouldn't, after all, I am a bail recovery agent. It's my job to get my skip, no matter the cost. Yet, I had been wondering lately. What was this job costing me? Yet, I had been wondering lately. What was this job costing me?”
Miranda Parker, A Good Excuse to Be Bad

Isaiah Washington
“DNA has memory!”
Isaiah Washington, A Man from Another Land: How Finding My Roots Changed My Life

Zadie Smith
“A little white woman, . . . [a] tiny little white woman I could fit in my pocket.’ . . . ‘And I don’t know why I’m surprised. You don’t even notice it – you never notice. You think it’s normal. Everywhere we go, I’m alone in this… this sea of white. I barely know any black folk any more, Howie. My whole life is white. I don’t see any black folk unless they be cleaning under my feet in the fucking café in your fucking college. Or pushing a fucking hospital bed through a corridor . . . ‘I gave up my life for you. I don’t even know who I am any more.’ . . . ‘Could you have found anybody less like me if you’d scoured the earth? . . . My leg weighs more than that woman. What have you made me look like in front of everybody in this town? You married a big black bitch and you run off with a fucking leprechaun?”
Zadie Smith, On Beauty

“I don't like the way people cherish the ghetto, as if it’s some royal palace, or kingdom. I also don't like the way people treat each other in the ghetto. It is really hard to find love, trust, and respect. You don't find too many people that want to do better for themselves in the ghetto because so many people seem to be satisfied with where they're at.”
Delano Johnson, Words That Changed the World

Christopher Hitchens
“It doesn't happen to me anymore, because a fresh generation of Africans and Asians has arisen to take over the business, but in my early years in Washington, D.C., I would often find myself in the back of a big beat-up old cab driven by an African-American veteran. I became used to the formalities of the mise-en-scène: on some hot and drowsy Dixie-like afternoon I would flag down a flaking Chevy. Behind the wheel, leaning wa-aay back and relaxed, often with a cigar stub in the corner of his mouth (and, I am not making this up, but sometimes also with a genuine porkpie hat on the back of his head) would be a grizzled man with the waist of his pants somewhere up around his armpits. I would state my desired destination. In accordance with ancient cabdriver custom, he would say nothing inresponse but simply engage the stickshift on his steering wheel and begin to cruise in a leisurely fashion. There would be a pause. Then: 'You from England?' I would always try to say something along the lines of 'Well, I'm in no position to deny it.' This occasionally got me a grin; in any case, I always knew what was coming next. 'I was there once.' 'Were you in the service?' 'I sure was.' 'Did you get to Normandy?' 'Yes, sir.' But it wasn't Normandy or combat about which they wanted to reminisce. (With real combat veterans, by the way, it almost never is.) It was England itself. 'Man did it know how to rain… and the warm beer. Nice people, though. Real nice.' I would never forget to say, as I got out and deliberately didn't overtip (that seeming a cheap thing to do), how much this effort on their part was remembered and appreciated.”
Christopher Hitchens, Hitch 22: A Memoir

Charles Beaumont
“I took my solo and beat hell out of the skins. Then Spoof swiped at his mouth and let go with a blast and moved it up into that squeal and stopped and started playing. It was all headwork. All new to us.

New to anybody.

I saw Sonny get a look on his face, and we sat still and listened while Spoof made love to that horn.

Now like a scream, now like a laugh - now we're swinging in the trees, now the white men are coming, now we're in the boat and chains are hanging from our ankles and we're rowing, rowing - Spoof, what is it? - now we're sawing wood and picking cotton and serving up those cool cool drinks to the Colonel in his chair - Well, blow, man! - now we're free, and we're struttin' down Lenox Avenue and State & Madison and Pirate's Alley, laughing, crying - Who said free? - and we want to go back and we don't want to go back - Play it, Spoof! God, God, tell us all about it! Talk to us! - and we're sitting in a cellar with a comb wrapped up in paper, with a skin-barrel and a tinklebox - Don't stop, Spoof! Oh Lord, please don't stop! - and we're making something, something, what is it? Is it jazz? Why, yes, Lord, it's jazz. Thank you, sir, and thank you, sir, we finally got it, something that is ours, something great that belongs to us and to us alone, that we made, and that's why it's important and that's what it's all about and - Spoof! Spoof, you can;t stop now --

But it was over, middle of the trip. And there was Spoof standing there facing us and tears streaming out of those eyes and down over that coaldust face, and his body shaking and shaking. It's the first we ever saw that. It's the first we ever heard him cough, too - like a shotgun going off every two seconds, big raking sounds that tore up from the bottom of his belly and spilled out wet and loud. ("Black Country")”
Charles Beaumont, American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from the 1940's Until Now

Lindy West
The Seattle Times reported in 2018 that the median net worth of white Seattleites is $456,000. The median net worth of black Seattleites—and here you should probably beep-boop-boop that therapist again—is $23,000. White net worth in my city is twenty times that of black net worth. If you are one of those people who believes that racism is a thing of the past, never existed at all, or is defined simply as one person being mean to another person, you are claiming that white people genuinely earn—through ability alone, because anything else would be a systemic advantage—twenty times as much as black people. White people are twenty times as good at their jobs, twenty times as skilled, twenty times as deserving. If you believe that, you are racist. That is racism. (Congratulations! I don’t know if you’ve heard, but 2019 is a great time for you guys.)”
Lindy West

“I saw him enthusiastically greet a hulking big African American (Do they call them African Americans here?).”
Brett Kiellerop-Morris, My Big Fat Gay Life

Abiola Abrams
“I have seen disparaging comments on social media toward my fellow African American and Afro-Caribbean people throughout the diaspora. People saying things like, “they’re wearing beauty shop dashikis” or “they’re grasping at straws because they don’t know anything about Africa.” Listen, we get our healing the way we need to. And if I put on a beauty shop dashiki, it’s because that is what I have access to. And I will rock it—proudly—and be connected to my motherland and my Source in the way that my womb energy tells me is connective for me.”
Abiola Abrams, African Goddess Initiation: Sacred Rituals for Self-Love, Prosperity, and Joy

Abiola Abrams
“I’ve had motherland-born African family tell me I don’t have a right to my Africanness because my ancestors were sold. I have had multi-generation African American family tell me I don’t have a right to my Americanness although I was born and raised on Black soil in the U.S. of A. I have had Guyanese family tell me I don’t have a right to the culture that birthed my parents, grandparents, and their great-grandparents because I am a “Yankee.” For all these folks, I am an orphan. But that’s their problem, because only I get to define me, and I own all of my spiritual, cultural, geographical, and genetic DNA.”
Abiola Abrams, African Goddess Initiation: Sacred Rituals for Self-Love, Prosperity, and Joy

Abiola Abrams
“The moon goddesses clap now, singing the Ghanaian adage, “The moon moves slowly, but it gets across the village.” From new to full, each takes a turn as a different phase of Luna. The heavenly bodies dance in the moonlight, singing your name. Tell them in their newness what desires you are calling in. Tell them in their fullness what blocks you are releasing.”
Abiola Abrams, African Goddess Initiation: Sacred Rituals for Self-Love, Prosperity, and Joy

Abiola Abrams
“Your true desires should turn you on, give you a juicy tingle between your legs, excite you and stretch what you believe is possible. Give the Divine the opening to dream the biggest dream for you by dreaming the biggest dream for yourself.”
Abiola Abrams, African Goddess Initiation: Sacred Rituals for Self-Love, Prosperity, and Joy

Ralph Ellison
“For history records the patterns of men's lives, they say: Who slept with whom and with what results; who fought and who won and who lived to lie about it afterwards. All things, it is said, are duly recorded--all things of importance, that is. But not quite, for actually it is only the known, the seen, the heard and only those events that the recorder regards as important that are put down, those lies his keepers keep their power by. But the cop would be Clifton's historian, his judge, his witness, and his executioner, and I was the only brother in the watching crowd. And I, the only witness for the defense, knew neither the extent of his guilt nor the nature of his crime. Where were the historians today? And how would they put it down?”
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

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