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Ta-Nehisi Coates Quotes
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Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Should assaulting an officer of the state be a capital offense, rendered without trial, with the officer as judge and executioner? Is that what we wish civilization to be?”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “But now I understand the gravity of what I was proposing – that a four-year-old child be watchful, prudent, and shrewd, that I curtail your happiness, that you submit to a loss of time. And now when I measure this fear against the boldness that the masters of the galaxy imparted to their own children, I am ashamed.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “The need to forgive the officer would not have moved me, because even then, in some inchoate form, I knew that Prince was not killed by a single officer so much as he was murdered by his country and all the fears that have marked it from birth.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “And no one would be brought to account for this destruction, because my death would not be the fault of any human but the fault of some unfortunate but immutable fact of “race,” imposed upon an innocent country by the inscrutable judgment of invisible gods. The earthquake cannot be subpoenaed. The typhoon will not bend under indictment.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Everything that was the past seemed to be another life. There was before you, and then there was after, and in this after, you were the God I’d never had. I submitted before your needs, and I knew then that I must survive for something more than survival’s sake. I must survive for you.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “These new people are, like us, a modern invention. But unlike us, their new name has no real meaning divorced from the machinery of criminal power. The new people were something else before they were white – Catholic, Corsican, Welsh, Mennonite, Jewish – and if all our national hopes have any fulfillment, then they will have to be something else again. Perhaps they will truly become American and create a nobler basis for their myths.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “In the 1920s, Jim Crow Mississippi was, in all facets of society, a kleptocracy.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “One cannot, at once, claim to be superhuman and then plead mortal error. I propose to take our countrymen’s claims of American exceptionalism seriously, which is to say I propose subjecting our country to an exceptional moral standard.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “There is always a part of us that does not want to win, wants to stay down in the low and familiar.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Never forget that we were enslaved in this country longer than we have been free.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “The truth of us was always that you were our ring. We’d summoned you out of ourselves, and you were not given a vote. If only for that reason, you deserved all the protection we could muster. Everything else was subordinate to this fact.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “The Quality kept their Tasked ones close the way a lady keeps her clutch, closer even, for this was a time in our history when the most valuable thing a man could own, in all of America, was another man.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Slavery is everyday longing, is being born into a world of forbidden victuals and tantalizing untouchables – the land around you, the clothes you hem, the biscuits you bake. You bury the longing, because you know where it must lead.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “For memory is the chariot, and memory is the way, and memory is the bridge from the curse of slavery to the boon of freedom.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Keep your end of the yard clean and leave the justice to the Lord.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “And I felt, even in this time, a century later, that I too would gather my words and scream into the roaring waves, because to scream was to defy the story, and that defiance had meaning, no matter that the waves kept coming, would come, maybe, forever.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “I should not mistake her calm probing for the absence of anger.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Considering segregationist senator Strom Thurmond, Richard Nixon concluded, “Strom is no racist.” There are no racists in America, or at least none that the people who need to be white know personally. In the era of mass lynching, it was so difficult to find who, specifically, served as executioner that such deaths were often reported by the press as having happened “at the hands of persons unknown.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “I wanted to pursue things, to know things, but I could not match the means of knowing that came naturally to me with the expectations of professors. The pursuit of knowing was freedom to me, the right to declare your own curiosities and follow them through all manner of books. I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Dad called it “enlightenment” but to me, it just felt lonely.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “And by then, I well knew what would be done upon that land, how the sin of theft would be multiplied by the sin of bondage.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “But all our phrasing – race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy – serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this. You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “The Earth is not our creation. It has no respect for us. It has no use for us.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “I did not tell you that it would be okay, because I have never believed it would be okay. What I told you is what your grandparents tried to tell me: that this is your country, that this is your world, that this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “If you’re black, you were born in jail,” Malcolm said. And I felt the truth of this in the blocks I had to avoid, in the times of day when I must not be caught walking home from school, in my lack of control over my body.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “But you are a black boy, and you must be responsible for your body in a way that other boys cannot know.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “But having been down, and having seen my share of those who are up, I tell you, Robert Ross, I would live down here among my losses, among the muck and mess of it, before I would ever live among those who are in their own kind of muck, but are so blinded by it they fancy it pure. Ain’t no pure, Robert. Ain’t no clean.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “And I know that there are black boys and black girls out there lost in a Bermuda triangle of the mind or stranded in the doldrums of America, some of them treading and some of them drowning, never feeling and never forgetting. The most precious thing I had then is the most precious thing I have now – my own curiosity. That is the thing I knew, even in the classroom, they could not take from me. That is the thing that buoyed me and eventually plucked me from the sea.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “What I am telling you is that you do not need to know to love, and it is right that you feel it all in any moment. And it is right that you see it through – that you are amazed, then curious, then belligerent, then heartbroken, then numb. You have the right to all of it.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “There was no peace in slavery, for every day under the rule of another is a day of war.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “One must be without error out here. Walk in single file. Work quietly. Pack an extra number 2 pencil. Make no mistakes. But you are human and you will make mistakes. You will misjudge. You will yell. You will drink too much. You will hang out with people you shouldn’t. Not all of us can always be Jackie Robinson – not even Jackie Robinson was always Jackie Robinson.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Fail in the streets and the crews would catch you slipping and take your body. Fail in the schools and you would be suspended and sent back to those same streets, where they would take your body.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Here we find the roots of American wealth and democracy – in the for-profit destruction of the most important asset available to any people, the family. The destruction was not incidental to America’s rise; it facilitated that rise. By erecting a slave society, America created the economic foundation for its great experiment in democracy.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “On our life map, he drew a bright circle around twelve through eighteen. This was the abyss where, unguided, black boys were swallowed whole, only to reemerge on corners and prison tiers.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “But my experience in this world has been that the people who believe themselves to be white are obsessed with the politics of personal exoneration. And the word racist, to them, conjures, if not a tobacco-spitting oaf, then something just as fantastic – an orc, troll, or gorgon... This was the attempt to commit a shameful act while escaping all sanction, and I raise it to show you that there was no golden era when evildoers did their business and loudly proclaimed it as such.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Here is how I take the measure of my progress in life: I imagine myself as I was, back there in.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Art was not an after-school special. Art was not motivational speaking. Art was not sentimental. It had no responsibility to be hopeful or optimistic or make anyone feel better about the world. It must reflect the world in all its brutality and beauty, not in hopes of changing it but in the mean and selfish desire to not be enrolled in its lie, to not be coopted by the television dreams, to not ignore the great crimes all around us.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Mostly they all were products of single parents, and in the most tragic category – black boys, with no particular criminal inclinations but whose very lack of direction put them in the crosshairs of the world.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “I did not tell you it would be okay because I never believed it would be okay.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “I know that “gentrification” is but a more pleasing name for white supremacy, is the interest on enslavement, the interest on Jim Crow, the interest on redlining, compounding across the years, and these new urbanites living off of that interest are, all of them, exulting in a crime.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “And hell upon those who tell us to be twice as good and shoot us no matter.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “A few weeks into our stay, I made a friend who wanted to improve his English as much as I wanted to improve my French. We met one day in the crowd in front of Notre Dame. We walked to the Latin Quarter. We walked to a wine shop. Outside the wine shop there was seating. We sat and drank a bottle of red. We were served heaping piles of meats, bread, and cheese. Was this dinner? Did people do this? I had not even known how to imagine it.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “I saw it in the girls, in their loud laughter, in their gilded bamboo earrings that announced their names thrice over. And I saw it in their brutal language and hard gaze, how they would cut you with their eyes and destroy you with their words for the sin of playing too much. “Keep my name out your mouth,” they would say. I would watch them after school, how they squared off like boxers, vaselined up, earrings off, Reeboks on, and leaped at each other.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Where others saw America in lovely columns, marvels of engineering, and refined democrats, Dad saw only masks concealing the heralds of woe.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Racism is, among other things, the unearned skepticism of one group of humans joined to the unearned sympathy for another.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “What we must never do is willingly hand over our own bodies or the bodies of our friends. That was the wisdom: We knew we did not lay down the direction of the street, but despite that, we could – and must – fashion the way of our walk. And that is the deeper meaning of your name – that the struggle, in and of itself, has meaning.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “She knew that I had no idea how close I was, would always be, to the edge, how easily boys like me were erased in absurd, impractical ways. One minute we were tossing snowballs at taxis, firing up in front the 7-Eleven, speeding down side streets and the next we’re surrounded by unholstered guns, a false move away from going down. I would always be a false move away. I would always have the dagger at my throat.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “It is to point out that at this late hour, the totems of the empire of slavery – chief among them, its flag – still enjoy an honored place in the homes, and public spaces, of self-professed patriots and vulgar lovers of “freedom.” It is to understand what it means to live in a country that will never apologize for slavery, but will not stop apologizing for the Civil War.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “She had wanted her son to stand for what he believed and to be respectful. And he had died for believing his friends had a right to play their music loud, to be American teenagers.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “They will try and pull you into all type of capers, but remember there is a price, always a price. You seen it on me when we went down. You seen it even today. There is a reason we forget. And those of us who remember, well, it is hard on us. It exhausts us.”
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