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Ruth McBride Jordan Quotes

17 of the best book quotes from Ruth McBride Jordan
  1. #1
    “I do remember my Jewish name: Ruchel Dwarja Zylska. My parents got rid of that name when we came to America and changed it to Rachel Deborah Shilsky, and I got rid of that name when I was nineteen and never used it again after I left Virginia for good in 1941. Rachel Shilsky is dead as far as I’m concerned. She had to die in order for me, the rest of me, to live.”
  2. #2
    “Mameh’s sisters were more about money than anything else, and any hurts that popped up along the way, they just swept them under the rug. They were all trying hard to be American, you know, not knowing what to keep and what to leave behind.”
  3. #3
    “See, a marriage needs love. And God. And a little money. That’s all. The rest you can deal with. It’s not about black or white.”
  4. #4
    “I myself had no idea who I was. I loved my mother yet looked nothing like her. Neither did I look like the role models in my life—my stepfather, my godparents, other relatives—all of whom were black. And they looked nothing like the other heroes I saw, the guys in the movies, white men like Steve McQueen and Paul Newman who beat the bad guys and in the end got the pretty girl—who, incidentally, was always white.”
  5. #5
    “I felt like a Tinkertoy kid building my own self out of one of those toy building sets; for as she laid her life before me, I reassembled the tableau of her words like a picture puzzle, and as I did, so my own life was rebuilt.”
  6. #6
    “In running from her past, Mommy has created her own nation, a rainbow coalition.”
  7. #7
    “You know death was always around Suffolk, always around. 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.”
  8. #8
    “Mommy’s contradictions crashed and slammed against one another like bumper cars at Coney Island. White folks, she felt, were implicitly evil toward blacks, yet she forced us to go to white schools to get the best education. Blacks could be trusted more, but anything involving blacks was probably slightly substandard. She disliked people with money yet was in constant need of it. She couldn’t stand racists of either color.”
  1. #9
    “Mommy staggered about in an emotional stupor for nearly a year. But while she weebled and wobbled and leaned, she did not fall.”
  2. #10
    “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.”
  3. #11
    “She wipes her memory instantly and with purpose; it’s a way of preserving herself.”
  4. #12
    “The question of race was like the power of the moon in my house. It’s what made the river flow, the ocean swell, and the tide rise, but it was a silent power, intractable, indomitable, indisputable, and thus completely ignorable. Mommy kept us at a frantic living pace that left no time for the problem.”
  5. #13
    “You know, my whole life changed after I fell in love. It was like the sun started shining on me for the first time, and for the first time in my life I began to smile. I was loved, I was loved, and I didn’t care what anyone thought. I wasn’t worried about getting caught, but I did notice that Peter’s friends were terrified of me; they stayed clear anytime I came near them. They’d walk away from me if they saw me walking down the road coming toward them, and if they came into the store, they wouldn’t even look at me. That started to worry me a little but I didn’t worry much.”
  6. #14
    “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.”
  7. #15
    One afternoon on the way home from church I asked her whether God was black or white.
    A deep sigh. “Oh boy…God’s not black. He’s not white. He’s a spirit.”
    “Does he like black or white people better?”
    “He loves all people. He’s a spirit.”
    “What’s a spirit?”
    “A spirit’s a spirit.”
    “What color is God’s spirit?”
    “It doesn’t have a color,” she said. “God is the color of water. Water doesn’t have a color.”
  8. #16
    “Finally one afternoon he came by where she was selling church dinners and asked Ma, ‘Do you go to the movies?’
    ‘Yeah’ she said. ‘But I got eight kids and they go to the movies too.’
    ‘You got enough for a baseball team,’ he said.
    He married her and made the baseball team his own, adding four more kids to make it an even twelve. He made no separation between the McBride and the Jordan children, and my siblings and I never thought of or referred to each other as half brothers and half sisters…”
  9. #17
    “Mommy, after all, did not really look like me. In fact, she didn’t look like Richie, or David—or any of her children for that matter. We were all clearly black, of various shades of brown, some light brown, some medium brown, some very light-skinned, and all of us had curly hair. Mommy was by her own definition, “light-skinned,” a statement which I had initially accepted as fact but at some point later decided was not true.”

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Book Topics › money
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