"If the black man is feeble and not important to the existing races, not on a parity with the best race, the black man must serve,and be exterminated. But if the black man carries in his bosom an indispensable element of a new and coming civilization; for the sake of that element, no wrong nor strength nor circumstance can hurt him: he will survive and play his part. So now, the arrival in the world of such men as Toussaint, and the Haytian heroes, or of the leaders of their race in Barbadoes and Jamaica, outweighs in good omen all the English and American humanity."
"Men hear gladly of the power of blood or race. Every body likes to know that his advantages cannot be attributed to air, soil, sea, or to local wealth, as mines and quarries, nor to laws and traditions, nor to fortune, but to superior brain, as it makes the praise more personal to him."
"I know that I will always be expected to have extra insight into black texts--especially texts by black women. A working-class Jewish woman from Brooklyn could become an expert on Shakespeare or Baudelaire, my students seemed to believe, if she mastered the language, the texts, and the critical literature. But they would not grant that a middle-class white man could ever be a trusted authority on Toni Morrison."
"No race has the last word on culture and on civilization. You do not know what the black man is capable of; you do not know what he is thinking and therefore you do not know what the oppressed and suppressed Negro, by virtue of his condition and circumstance, may give to the world as a surprise."
"You know, when these New Negroes have their convention--that is going to be the chairman of the Committee on Unending Agitation. Race, race, race!... Damn, even the N double A C P takes a holiday sometimes!"
"The notion that black folks have nothing to learn from scholarship that may reflect racial or racist biases is dangerous. It promotes closed-mindedness and a narrow understanding of knowledge to hold that "race" is such an overwhelming concept that it negates the validity of any insights contained in a work that may have some racist or sexist aspects."
"But I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all.I do not belong to the sobbing school of negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal.... No, I do not weep at the world--I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife."
"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 demule uh de world so fur as Ah can see. Ah been prayin' fuh it tuh be different wid you. Lawd, Lawd, Lawd!"
"For four hundred years the blacks of Haiti had yearned for peace. for three hundred years the island was spoken of as a paradise of riches and pleasures, but that was in reference to the whites to whom the spirit of the land gave welcome. Haiti has meant split blood and tears for blacks."