"A black boxer's career is the perfect metaphor for the career of a black male. Every day is like being in the gym, sparring with impersonal opponents as one faces the rudeness and hostility that a black male must confront in the United States, where he is the object of both fear and fascination."
"He touched the soil, caressing its grains between his fingers: "I am this: this earth here, and I have it in my blood. Look at mycolor; it seems as though the earth faded onto me and onto you too. This country belongs to the black man and each time others tried to take it away from us, we mowed down injustice with our machetes"."
"She sang a song that sounds like life; I mean it was sad. Délira knew no other types of songs. She didn't sing loud, and the songhad no words. It was sung with closed lips and it stayed down in one's throat.... Life is what taught them, these Negresses, to sing as if they were choking back sobs. It is a song that always ends with a beginning anew because this song is the picture of misery, and tell me, does misery ever end?"
"I thought that God put me on the earth without asking if I wanted to be a woman or what color I would prefer to be. I could not help it if he gave me skin so black it was blue, a face not exactly dripping with beauty. But I was content, and maybe if I had to choose right now, in this precise moment, I would choose this bluish skin and this face without dripping beauty."
"And I finally understood what a Negro is: both wind and sail at the same time, drummer and dancer, a first-class fake who forces himself to gather basketsful of the sweetness that falls from the sky in some places, and that sweetness that does not fall on him, he makes it up, and that at least is what he has, if he has nothing else."
"Native always means people who belong somewhere else, because they had once belonged somewhere. That shows that the white race does not really think they belong anywhere because they think of everybody else as native."
"... it is not the color of the skin that makes the man or the woman, but the principle formed in the soul. Brilliant wit will shine, come from whence it will; and genius and talent will not hide the brightness of its lustre."
"Please stop using the word "Negro."... We are the only human beings in the world with fifty-seven variety of complexions who are classed together as a single racial unit. Therefore, we are really truly colored people, and that is the only name in the English language which accurately describes us."
"I never wear my best coat on a journey, though perchance I could show a certificate to prove that I have a more costly one, at least, at home, if that were all that a gentleman required. It is not wise for a traveler to go dressed. I should no more think of it than of putting on a clean dicky and blacking my shoes to go a-fishing; as if you were going out to dine, when, in fact, the genuine traveler is going out to work hard, and fare harder,--to eat a crust by the wayside whenever he can get it. Honest traveling is about as dirty work as you can do, and a man needs a pair of overalls for it. As for blacking my shoes in such a case, I should as soon think of blacking my face."
"Met face to face, these Indians in their native woods looked like the sinister and slouching fellows whom you meet picking up strings and paper in the streets of a city. There is, in fact, a remarkable and unexpected resemblance between the degraded savage and the lowest classes in a great city. The one is no more a child of nature than the other. In the progress of degradation the distinction of races is soon lost."
"A tanned skin is something more than respectable, and perhaps olive is a fitter color than white for a man,--a denizen of the woods. "The pale white man!" I do not wonder that the African pitied him."
"To me, the black black woman is our essential mother--the blacker she is the more us she is--and to see the hatred that is turnedon her is enough to make me despair, almost entirely, of our future as a people."
"The intellect,--that is miraculous! Who has it, has the talisman: his skin and bones, though they were of the color of night, aretransparent, and the everlasting stars shine through, with attractive beams."