racism Quotes

100+ of the best book quotes about racism
“JUROR #10: I’ve lived among them all my life. You can’t believe a word they say. You know that. I mean, they’re born liars.”
“No,” Father let out his breath in a rush. “No. I’m sick of having to deal with thieves and pimps and pushers. I’m sick of having to scrape and bow to men who live off the misery of their brothers and sisters. […] Don’t you see? We’re all tainted by it. As long as we keep quiet and let it go on, we’re as bad as they are. It eats at them; it eats at us.”
“Soldiers and civilians, intensely propagandized by their government, usually carried their own caustic prejudices about their enemies, seeing them as brutish, subhuman beasts or fearsome ‘Anglo-Saxon devils.’ This racism, and the hatred and fear it fomented served as an accelerant for the abuse of Allied prisoners.”
“JUROR: #10: You’re not gonna’ tell me we’re supposed to believe this kid, knowing what he is.”
“I stared at the brick as it slid across the clean, worn, wooden floor, and at the glass that scattered about my feet. Outside I could hear jeers and shouts. For one moment I glimpsed howling, sweating, red-and-white faces, distorted into hideous masks of hatred and cruelty, a sea of demon heads that bobbed restlessly outside our store. I could not understand the words they were growling out, but their intention was plain. They wanted to burn and loot and hurt. Looking into that huge mass of faces was like looking into the ugliest depths of the human soul.”
″‘They don’t want us banding together for higher wages or better housing,’ said Marta. ‘The owners think if Mexicans have no hot water, that we won’t mind as long as we think no one has any.‘”
“She was glad she had kept working and thankful that the camp had voted not to strike, but she knew that under different circumstances, it could have been her on that bus. [...] Some of these people did not deserve their fate today. How was it that the United States could send people to Mexico who had never even lived there?”
“These boys, now, were living as we’d been living then, they were growing up with a rush and their heads bumped abruptly against the low ceiling of their actual possibilities.”
“Maybe at birth everyone should be given to a family of a different race to be raised. Maybe that would solve racism once and for all.”
“Today we are belatedly, but resolutely, engaged in ending this condition of national exclusion and share and abolishing forever the concept of second-class citizenship in the United States.”
“However, under the guise of warning people about the impact of illegal immigration, these anti-immigrant groups often invoke the same dehumanizing racist stereotypes as hate groups.”
“You’re making us out to be monsters.”
“Geel Piet, who had no tribe, whose blood was the mixture of all the people of Southern Africa—the white tribe, the Bushman, the Hottentot, the Cape Malay, and the black tribal blood of Africa itself—was celebrated in death by all the tribes. He was the new man of Southern Africa, the result of the hundred years of torture, treachery, racism, and slaughter in the name of one color or another.”
“Got up here and found out . . . not only couldn’t you get a job . . . you couldn’t find no place to live. I thought I was in freedom. Shhh. Colored folks living down there on the riverbanks in whatever kind of shelter they could find for themselves.”
“But . . . you born with two strikes on you before you come to the plate. You got to guard it closely . . . always looking for the curve-ball on the inside corner. You can’t afford to let none get past you. You can’t afford a call strike. If you going down . . . you going down swinging.”
“The colored guy got to be twice as good before he get on the team. That’s why I don’t want you to get all tied up in them sports. Man on the team and what it get him? They got colored on the team and don’t use them. Same as not having them. All them teams the same.”
“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.”
“But race is the child of racism, not the father.”
“Prince Jones had made it through and still they had taken him.”
“They made us into a race. We made ourselves into a people.”
“The greatest sin a person can do to another is to take away that life. Next to that, all the rule 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. I left for New York happy in the knowledge that my grandmother had not suffered and died for nothing.”
“The image of her riding that bicycle typified her whole existence to me. Her oddness, her complete nonawareness of what the world thought of her, a nonchalance in the face of what I perceived to be imminent danger from blacks and whites who disliked her for being a white person in a black world. She saw none of it.”
“There was no turning back after my mother died. I stayed on the black side because that was the only place I could stay. The few problems I had with black folks were nothing compared to the grief white folks dished out. With whites it was no question. You weren’t accepted to be with a black man and that was that.”
“ ‘In my time,’ said the grandmother, folding her thin veined fingers, ‘children were more respectful of their native states and their parents and everything else. People did right then. Oh look at the cute little pickaninny!’ she said and pointed to a Negro child standing in the door of a shack. ‘Wouldn’t that make a picture now?’ ”
″‘Get out of here, roundies!’ shouted one of the Squares. ‘Why?’ asked one of the Circles. ‘Because this is a metaphor for racism!‘”
“There was something he knew and something he felt; something the world gave him and something he himself had. . . . ever in all his life, with this black skin of his, had the two worlds, thought and feeling, will and mind, aspiration and satisfaction, been together; never had he felt a sense of wholeness.”
“Maybe one day whites and blacks can be real friends, but right now the country ain’t built that way . . . The trouble is, down here in Mississippi, it costs too much to find out . . . So I think you’d better not try.”
“Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends.”
“You deny them hope. Any man in this world, Atticus, any man who has a head and arms and legs, was born with hope in his heart. You won’t find that in the Constitution, I picked that up in church somewhere. They are simple people, most of them, but that doesn’t make them subhuman.”
“Black folks aren’t born expecting segregation, prepared from day one to follow its confining rules. Nobody presents you with a handbook when you’re teething and says, ‘Here’s how you must behave as a second-class citizen.’ Instead, the humiliating expectations and traditions of segregation creep over you, slowly stealing a teaspoonful of your self-esteem each day.”
“It was a story of white selling black, of black cultures “contaminating” white ones with a single cell in an era when a person with “one drop” of black blood had only recently gained the legal right to marry a white person. It was also the story of cells from an uncredited black woman becoming one of the most important tools in medicine.”
“I think only the warrior exists in me now. Melba went away to hide. She was too frightened to stay here.”
“I knew for certain something would have to change if I were going to stay in that school. Either the students would have to change the way they behaved, or I would have to devise a better plan to protect myself. My body was wearing out real fast.”
“It’s weird how obsessed the media is with calling everyone racist, isn’t it? It’s almost like they want everyone to be racist or something, for some reason.”
“Lindner: …most of the trouble exists because people just don’t sit down and talk to each other…That we don’t try hard enough in this world to understand the other fellow’s problem. The other guy’s point of view.”
“So many black families spend all of their time trying to fix the problems of the past. That is the curse of being black and poor, and it is a curse that follows you from generation to generation. My mother calls it ‘the black tax.’ Because the generations who came before you have been pillaged, rather than being free to use your skills and education to move forward, you lose everything just trying to bring everyone behind you back up to zero.”
“Appeals weren’t for the likes of John Coffey, not back then.”
“What they were seeing was black.”
“I wonder if the quiet was not better than … death and hatred. But … I will not wonder long.”
“Son — I come from five generations of people who was slaves and sharecroppers – but ain’t nobody in my family never let nobody pay ‘em no money that was a way of telling us we wasn’t fit to walk the earth. We ain’t never been that poor. We ain’t never been that — dead inside.”
“The genius of apartheid was convincing people who were the overwhelming majority to turn on each other. Apart hate, is what it was. You separate people into groups and make them hate one another so you can run them all.”
“‘Heaven protect me from a prejudice so unworthy of my reason!’ returned Duncan, at the same time conscious of such a feeling, and that as deeply rooted as if it had been engrafted in his nature.”
“I am not a prejudiced man, nor one who vaunts himself on his natural privileges, though the worst enemy I have on earth, and he is an Iroquois, daren’t deny that I am genuine white.”
“In any society built on institutionalized racism, race-mixing doesn’t merely challenge the system as unjust, it reveals the system as unsustainable and incoherent. Race-mixing proves that races can mix—and in a lot of cases, want to mix. Because a mixed person embodies that rebuke to the logic of the system, race-mixing becomes a crime worse than treason.”
“Do you mean to kill him, you cowards? Do you mean to kill the man who saved Melinda Moores’s life, who tried to save those little girls’ lives? Well, at least there will be one less black man in the world, won’t there? You can console yourselves with that. One less n*gger.”
“If you have braids, they will think you are unprofessional. ”
“Segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.”
“Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.”
“Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”
“We black men have failed to protect our women since the time of slavery. We stay here in the South and are broken, or we run away and leave them alone to look after the children and themselves.”
“Y’all asking a lot, Mr. Wiggins, from a poor old n***** who never had nothing.”
“There, instead of houses and trees, there were fishing wharves, boat docks, nightclubs, and restaurants for whites. There were one or two nightclubs for colored, but they were not very good.”
“It’s not right, Marilyn. It’s not right. ”
“If Nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.”
“Honey, de white man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh find out. Maybe it’s some place way off in de ocean where de black man is in power, but we don’t know nothin’ but what we see. So de white man throw down de load and tell de nigger man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to, but he don’t tote it. He hand it to his womenfolks. De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see.”
“Joe Starks was the name, yeah Joe Starks from in and through Georgy. Been workin’ for white folks all his life. Saved up some money – round three hundred dollars, yes indeed, right here in his pocket. Kept hearin’ ‘bout them buildin’ a new state down heah in Floridy and sort of wanted to come. But he was makin’ money where he was. But when he heard all about ‘em makin’ a town all outa colored folks, he knowed dat was de place he wanted to be. He had always wanted to be a big voice, but de white folks had all de sayso where he come from and everywhere else, exceptin’ de place dat colored folks was buildin’ theirselves. Dat was right too. De man dat built things oughta boss it. Let colored folks build thing too if dey wants to crow over somethin’. ”
“Ah thought you would ‘preciate good treatement. Thought Ah’d take and make somethin’ outa yuh. You think youse white folks by de way you act.”
“It woke up old Okechobee and the monster began to rollin his bed. Began to roll and complain like a peevish world on a grumble. The folks in the quarters and the people in the big houses further around the shore heard the big lake and wondered. The people felt uncomfortable but safe because there were the seawalls to chain the senseless monster in his bed. The folks let the people do the thinking. If the castles thought themselves secure, the cabins needn’t worry. Their decision was already made as always. Chink up your cracks, shiver in your wet beds and wait on the mercy on Lord. The bossman might have the thing stopped before morning anyway. ”
“I can’t turn around without hearing about some ‘civil rights advance’! White people seem to think the black ought to be shouting ‘hallelujah’! Four hundred years the white man has had his foot-long knife in the black man’s back – and now the white man starts to wiggle the knife out, maybe six inches! The black man’s supposed to be grateful? Why, if the white man jerked the knife out, it’s still going to leave a scar!”
“In all my years in the streets, I’d been looking at the exploitation that for the first time I really saw and understood.”
“In one sense, we were huddled in there, bonded togethher in seeking security and warmth and comfort from each other, and we didn’t know it. All of us—who might have probed space, or cured cancer, or built industries—were, instead, black victims of the white man’s American social system.”
“It isn’t the American white man who is a racist, but it’s the American political, economic and social atmosphere that automatically nourishes a racist psychology in the white man.”
“Where the really sincere white people have got to do their ‘proving’ of themselves is not among the black victims, but out on the battle lines of where America’s racism really is — and that’s in their own home communities.”
“America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem.”
“I don’t care how nice one is to you, the thing you must always remember is that almost never does he really see you as he sees himself, as he sees his own kind.”
“It has always been my belief that I, too, will die by violence. I have done all that I can to be prepared.”
“In all our Nation’s striving is not the Gospel of Work befouled by the Gospel of Pay?”
“It is wrong to encourage a man or a people in evildoing; it is wrong to aid and abet a national crime simply because it is unpopular not to do so.”
“This is what they get for doing this journey.”
“Our understanding of racism is therefore shaped by the most extreme expressions of individual bigotry, not by the way in which it functions naturally, almost invisibly (and sometimes with genuinely benign intent), when it is embedded in the structure of a social system.”
“We should hope not for a colorblind society but instead for a world in which we can see each other fully, learn from each other, and do what we can to respond to each other with love. That was King’s dream—a society that is capable of seeing each of us, as we are, with love. That is a goal worth fighting for.”
“racial caste systems do not require racial hostility or overt bigotry to thrive. They need only racial indifference, as Martin Luther King Jr. warned more than forty-five years ago.”
“There is no inconsistency whatsoever between the election of Barack Obama to the highest office in the land and the exis­tence of a racial caste system in the era of colorblindness. The current sys­tem of control depends on black exceptionalism; it is not disproved or undermined by it.”
“When we think of racism we think of Governor Wallace of Alabama blocking the schoolhouse door; we think of water hoses, lynchings, racial epithets, and “whites only” signs. These images make it easy to forget that many wonderful, goodhearted white people who were generous to others, respectful of their neighbors, and even kind to their black maids, gardeners, or shoe shiners--and wished them well--nevertheless went to the polls and voted for racial segregation... ”
“The Supreme Court has now closed the courthouse doors to claims of racial bias at every stage of the criminal justice process, from stops and searches to plea bargaining and sentencing. The system of mass incarceration is now, for all practical purposes, thoroughly immunized from claims of racial bias.”
“Our understanding of racism is therefore shaped by the most extreme expressions of individual bigotry, not by the way in which it functions naturally, almost invisibly (and sometimes with genuinely benign intent), when it is embedded in the structure of a social system.”
“Today mass incarceration defines the meaning of blackness in America: black people, especially black men, are criminals. That is what it means to be black.”
“Ninety percent of those admitted to prison for drug offenses in many states were black or Latino, yet the mass incarceration of communities of color was explained in race-neutral terms, an adaptation to the needs and demands of the current political climate. The New Jim Crow was born.”
“Challenging these forms of racism is certainly necessary, as we must always remain vigilant, but it will do little to shake the foundations of the current system of control. The new caste system, unlike its predecessors, is officially colorblind. We must deal with it on its own terms.”
“Arguably the most important parallel between mass incarceration and Jim Crow is that both have served to define the meaning and significance of race in America. Indeed, a primary function of any racial caste system is to define the meaning of race in its time. Slavery defined what it meant to be black (a slave), and Jim Crow defined what it meant to be black (a second-class citizen).”
“As a criminal, you have scarcely more rights, and arguably less respect, than a black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow. We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”
“Arguably the most important parallel between mass incarceration and Jim Crow is that both have served to define the meaning and significance of race in America. Indeed, a primary function of any racial caste system is to define the meaning of race in its time. Slavery defined what it meant to be black (a slave), and Jim Crow defined what it meant to be black (a second-class citizen).”
“Seeing race is not the problem. Refusing to care for the people we see is the problem. The fact that the meaning of race may evolve over time or lose much of its significance is hardly a reason to be struck blind. ”
“A new civil rights movement cannot be organized around the relics of the earlier system of control if it is to address meaningfully the racial realities of our time. Any racial justice movement, to be successful, must vigorously challenge the public consensus that underlies the prevailing system of control.”
“Nooses, racial slurs, and overt bigotry are widely condemned by people across the political spectrum; they are understood to be remnants of the past, no longer reflective of the prevailing public consensus about race. ”
“There they were, strangers in someone else’s home, and then they refused to talk to their hosts or have anything human, anything intimate, to do with them.”
“We thought they were un-Christian-like; we thought they were small-minded; we thought they were like animals, a bit below human standards as we understood those standards to be.”
“Our perception of this Antigua—the perception we had of this place ruled by these bad-minded people—was not a political perception. The English were ill-mannered, not racists.”
“I know you old colored people! Wouldn’t miss going to town to see Santa Claus!”
“The white kids looked at his black skin and his afro and treated him with inhuman cheeriness. The kids of color, upon hearing him speak and seeing him move his body, shook their heads. You’re not Dominican.”
“Now Minnie likes just about everybody, but she sure don’t like Mexicans. So when you tell me, Minnie went to North side to visit her mama? Well I find that highly unlikely, but okay. Maybe.”
“Dead silence along the street. The kid had done the unthinkable, he had chomped on one of Mars’s own bars. Not only that, but white kids just didn’t put their mouths where black kids had had theirs, be it soda bottles, spoons, or candy bars. And the kid hadn’t even gone for the unused end; he had chomped right over Mars Bar’s own bite marks.”
″...look at all the things that I am capable of, and think of all the things you could call me - a student a lover of literature, a budding architect, a friend, a symbol of hope even, but what am I called? A refugee. Some people believe that I gave up my homeland and lost my parents in order to become a refugee; some people actually believe that I gave up thirteen months of sunshine to live in the cold and to be called a scrounger. I didn’t.”
And so this story reminds us of what we should already know- that refugees are people. Scared, dispossessed, desperate people. That’s it, that’s all that should need to be said. Yet that’s so often the last thing we hear...
“Although it is a book for young readers it deals with important issues, like racism, bullying, culture shock and death.
″‘My Mum and Dad reckon it stinks, that’s what.’ ‘What stinks?’ asked Brett, still keeping his voice low. ‘That blacks get things for nothing that everyone else has to work hard for.‘”
“In white America, prisons are good places where bad men pay for their crimes. In black America, they are too often used as warehouses to keep minorities off the streets.”
“You were supposed to be safe in Mallard-that strange, separate town- hidden amongst your own. But even here, where nobody married dark, you were still colored and that meant that white men could kill you for refusing to die. The Vignes twins were reminders of this, tiny girls in funeral dresses who grew up without a daddy because white men decided that it would be so.”
“I’m not like an expert or anything, but they have different ways of life from us, don’t they? They don’t treat women quite like we do. So I’m guessing maybe Andie decided she didn’t want to be with him or something, and he killed her in a rage because, in his eyes, she belonged to him.”
“My head snapped up at the sound of my mother’s voice. Mother came hurtling down the steps, her expression dour and fierce - as always. She’d obviously not had as many glasses of wine today as she normally did, otherwise wouldn’t be in such a bad mood. I turned back where Callum had been, but he was already out of sight -which was just as well. Mother grabbed my arm with bony fingers that bit like pincers.”
“My sister looks like me- the same brown hair, eyes the same shade of gray... She is aways with the fairies, as my grandma used to say. She wasn’t always that way. Three years ago something happened that changed her. An accident. And just like that the sister I knew was gone. Now she doesn’t go out, doesn’t talk much, doesn’t think much as far as I can tell. She just is.”
“I sat down at my place around the table y looked away from Mum. Dad wasn’t bothered about me -or anything else, for that matter. He was totally focused on his food. Jude, my seventeen-year-old brother, grinned knowingly at me. He’s a really irritating toad. I looked away from him as well. ‘He was with his dagger friend’ Jude smirked. ”
“Don’t you listen to that Quaker Abolitionist and that free boy. They got evil in their words and destruction in their ways.”
“Last night changed me. I don’t wanna walk around all pissed off and looking for problems, but I know I can’t continue to pretend nothing’s wrong. Yeah, there are no more “colored” water fountains, and it’s supposed to be illegal to discriminate, but if I can be forced to sit on the concrete in too-tight cuffs when I’ve done nothing wrong, it’s clear there’s an issue. That things aren’t as equal as folks say they are.”
“The Second World War is raging. Times are very hard in Poland, especially for Jews, and Alex is one of them. His mother has disappeared and his father is “selected” by the German army for an unknown destination. Alone, Alex is forced to take refuge in an abandoned building at 78 Bird Street. Here he hopes to wait out the harsh winter and the promised return of his father.”
“I know you’d prefer to ignore this stuff because you benefit from it, but walking around pretending inequality doesn’t exist won’t make it disappear, Jared. You and Manny, who are equal in pretty much every way apart from race, could commit the same crime, but it’s almost guaranteed that he would receive a harsher punishment than you.”
“Another thing you won’t find is radios. There were forbidden at the beginning of the occupation. And, of course, television hasn’t been invented yet. The occupying army wants to take whatever is left in the empty houses for itself, and so it leaves the wall standing the keeps the guards stationed at the check posts.”
“There was no reason for Emira to be unfamiliar with this word. And there was no reason for Alix to be impressed. Alix completely knew these things, but only when she reminded herself to stop thinking them in the first place.”
“Alix had started her day in Manhattan, ready to tell Kelley, I know who you really are. But now she sat in Philadelphia, participating in a losing game called ‘Which One of Us Is Actually More Racist?‘”
“This is the man that shoots the hares; this is the coat he always wears: with game-bag, powder-horn and gun He’s going out to have some fun.”
“I want you to pack up and go back to where you came from!”
“I’m not like an expert or anything, but they have different ways of life from us, don’t they? They don’t treat women quite like we do. So I’m guessing maybe Andie decided she didn’t want to be with him or something, and he killed her in a rage because, in his eyes, she belonged to him.”
“We’d seen the pictures of a bunch of really mad white people with twisted-up faces screaming and giving dirty finger signs to some little Negro kids who were trying to go to school. I’d seen the pictures, but I didn’t really know how these white people could hate some kids so much.”
″‘Possibly you were responding to unconscious stereotypes of black men as large, threatening, dangerous?’ ‘No. I acted with just cause.‘”
“I was the same man, whether white or black. Yet when I was white, I received the brotherly-love smiles and the privileges from whites and the hate stares or obsequiousness from the Negroes. And when I was a Negro, the whites judged me fit for the junk heap, while the Negroes treated me with great warmth.”
“The Negro. The South. These are details. The real story is the universal one of men who destroy the souls and bodies of other men (and in the process destroy themselves) for reasons neither really understands.”

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