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Between the World and Me Quotes

20 of the best book quotes from Between the World and Me
  1. #1
    “But race is the child of racism, not the father.”
  2. #2
    “I had thought that I must mirror the outside world, create a carbon copy of white claims to civilization. It was beginning to occur to me to question the logic of the claim itself.”
  3. #3
    “Very few Americans will directly proclaim that they are in favor of black people being left to the streets. But a very large number of Americans will do all they can to preserve the Dream. No one directly proclaimed that schools were designed to sanctify failure and destruction. But a great number of educators spoke of ‘personal responsibility’ in a country authored and sustained by a criminal responsibility. The point of this language of ‘intention’ and ‘personal responsibility’ is broad exoneration. Mistakes were made. Bodies were broken. People were enslaved. We meant well. We tried our best. “Good intention” is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream.”
  4. #4
    “Americans believe in the reality of “race” as a defined, indubitable feature of the natural world. Racism––the need to ascribe bone-deep features to people and then humiliate, reduce, and destroy them-––inevitably follows from this inalterable condition.”
  5. #5
    “America makes no claim to the banal. America believes itself exceptional, the greatest and noblest nation to ever exist, a lone champion standing between the white city of democracy and the terrorists, despots, barbarians, and other enemies of civilization.”
  6. #6
    “The entire narrative of this country argues against the truth of who you are.”
  1. #7
    “What did it mean that number 2 pencils, conjugations without context, Pythagorean theorems, handshakes, and head nods were the difference between life and death, were the curtains drawing down between the world and me? I could not retreat, as did so many, into the church and its mysteries. My parents rejected all dogmas. We spurned the holidays marketed by the people who wanted to be white. We would not stand for their anthems. We would not kneel before their God.”
  2. #8
    “At the onset of the Civil War, our stolen bodies were worth four billion dollars, more than all of American industry, all of American railroads, workshops, and factories combined, and the prime product rendered by our stolen bodies — cotton — was America’s primary export.”
  3. #9
    “For so long I have wanted to escape into the Dream, to fold my country over my head like a blanket. But this has never been an option because the Dream rests on our backs, the bedding made from our bodies. And knowing this, knowing that the Dream persists by warring with the known world, I was sad for the host, I was sad for all those families, I was sad for my country but above all, in that moment, I was sad for you.”
  4. #10
    “The crews walked the blocks of the neighborhood, loud and rude, because it was only through their loud rudeness that they might feel any sense of security and power.”
  5. #11
    “Perhaps I too might live free. Perhaps I too might wield the same old power that animated the ancestors, that lived in Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, Nanny, Cudjoe, Malcolm X, and speak––no, act––as though my body were my own.”
  6. #12
    “I saw them lost in conversation with each other, mother and father, while their sons commanded entire sidewalks with their tricycles. The galaxy belonged to them, and as terror was communicated to our children, I saw mastery communicated to theirs.”

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  1. #13
    “This officer, given maximum power, bore minimum responsibility.”
  2. #14
    “You cannot forget how ... they transfigured our very bodies into sugar, tobacco, cotton, and gold.”
  3. #15
    “Prince Jones had made it through and still they had taken him.”
  4. #16
    “The Dream is the enemy of all art, courageous thinking, and honest writing.”
  5. #17
    “They made us into a race. We made ourselves into a people.”
  6. #18
    “All I know is, the violence rose from the fear like smoke from a fire.”
  7. #19
    “They had worked two and three jobs, put children through high school and college, and become pillars of their community. I admired them, but I knew the whole time that I was merely encountering the survivors...”
  8. #20
    “People who believe themselves to be white are obsessed with the politics of personal exoneration.”
Book Topics › slavery
Children's Books About Slavery

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