Civil wars...are the best wars for the writer...because they have a way of continuing long afterwl wars between nations are resolved; because, with the combatants being the same people, civil wars are never really won; and because their most devastating engagements are fought within the individual human heart.
Had the price of looking been blindness, I would have looked.
All boundaries down, freedom was not only the recognition of necessity, it was the recognition of possibility.
But live you must, and you can either make passive love to your sickness or burn it out and go on to the next conflicting phase.
Man's hope can paint a purple picture, can transform a soaring vulture into a noble eagle or moaning dove.
These white folk have newspapers, magazines, radios, spokesmen to get their ideas across. If they want to tell the world a lie, they can tell it so well that it becomes the truth; and if I tell them that you're lying, they'll tell the world even if you prove you're telling the truth. Because it's the kind of lie they want to hear ...
For their most innocent words were acts of violence to which we of the campus were hypersensitive though we endured them not.
Perhaps everyone loved someone; I didn't now, I couldn't give much thought to love; in order to travel far you had to be detached, and I had the long road back to the campus before me.
Not only could you travel upward toward success but you could travel downward as well; up and down, in retreat as well as in advance, crabways and crossways and around in a circle, meeting your old selves coming and going and perhaps all at the same time.
And in order for the Negro to fulfill his duty as a citizen it was often necessary that he fight for his self-affirmed right to fight.
I knew that it was better to live out one's own absurdity than to die for that of others.
I am standing puzzled, unable to decide whether the veil is really being lifted, or lowered more firmly in place; whether I am witnessing a revelation or a more efficient blinding.
They were blind, bat blind, moving only by the echoed sounds of their own voices.
I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer.
And knowing now who I was and where I was and knowing too that I had no longer to run for or from the Jack's and the Emerson's and the Bledsoe's and the Norton's...but only from their confusion and impatience and refusal to recognize the beautiful absurdity of their American identity...And mine...
I have also been called one thing and then another while no one really wished to hear what I called myself.
I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am nobody but myself.
I denounce because though implicated and partially responsible, I have been hurt to the point of abysmal pain, hurt to the point of invisibility. And I defend because in spite of it all, I find that I love.
There are few things in the world as dangerous as sleepwalkers.
Eclecticism is the word. Like a jazz musician who creates his own style out of the styles around him, I play by ear.
Meaning grows in the mind, but the shape and form of the act remains.
Something in Mama's voice was vast and high, like a rainbow; yet something sad and deep, like when the organ played in church, was around Mama's words.
What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do?
Deep at the dark bottom of the melting pot, where the private is public and the public private, where black is white and white black, where the immoral becomes moral and the moral is anything that makes one feel good (or that one has the power to sustain), the white man's relish is apt to be the black man's gall.
She was something more- a force, a stable, familiar force like something out of my past which kept me from whirling off into some unknown which I dared not face. It was a most painful position for at the same time Mary reminded me constantly that something was expected of me, some act of leadership, some newsworthy achievement;...
What a group of people we were, I thought. Why, you could cause us the greatest humiliation simply by confronting us with something we liked.
The act of writing requires a constant plunging back into the shadow of the past where time hovers ghostlike.
Please, a definition: A hibernation is a covert preparation for a more overt action.
If only all the contradictory voices shouting inside my head would calm down and sing a song in unison, whatever it was I wouldn't care as long as they sang without dissonance; yes, and avoided the uncertain extremes of the scale.
Everywhere I've turned somebody has wanted to sacrifice me for my own good—only /they/ were the ones who benefited. And now we start on the old sacrificial merry-go-round. At what point do we stop?
But not quite, for actually it is only the known, the seen, the heard and only those events that the recorder regards as important that are put down, those lies his keepers keep their power by.
I ran away into the dark, laughing so hard I feared I might rupture myself.
But on the other hand, it would be a great mistake to assume that the dead are absolutely powerless.
How could you treat a Negro as equal in war and then deny him equality during times of.
Words are your business, boy. Not just the word. Words are everything. The key to the rock, the answer to the question.
As the advertising industry, which is dedicated to the creation of masks, makes clear, that which cannot gain authority from tradition may borrow it with a mask.
I'm an invisible man and it placed me in a hole—or showed me the hole I was in, if you will—and I reluctantly accepted the fact.
Why do you laugh? he said. Because at a price I now see that which I couldn't see, I said.
Hibernation is a covert preparation for a more overt action.
Tell them to teach them that when they call you nigger to make a rhyme with trigger it makes the gun backfire.
Well, you had better speak more slowly so we can understand. We mean to do right by you, but you've got to know your place at all times. All right, now, go on with your speech.
When American life is most American it is apt to be most theatrical.
It's the little things that find us out, the little things we refuse to do in order to avoid doing the big things that can save us.
America is woven of many strands; I would recognize them and let it so remain.