If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat.
It seemed that the peace of day’s ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes, and the crippled was still in effect.
When I was described by our playmates as being shit color, he was lauded for his velvet-black skin…And yet he loved me.
In Stamps the segregation was so complete that most Black children didn’t really, absolutely know what whites looked like. Other than that they were different, to be dreaded.
Momma intended to teach Bailey and me to use the paths of life she and her generation and all the Negroes gone before had found, and found to be safe ones.
He held me so softly I wished he wouldn’t ever let me go. I felt at home.
It would be safe to say that she made me proud to be a Negro, just by being herself.
The Black woman in the south who raises sons, grandsons, and nephews had her heartstrings tied to a hanging noose.
I laughed because, except that she was white, the big movie star looked just like my mother…and it was funny to think of the whitefolks’ not knowing that.
Let the whitefolks have their money and power and segregation and sarcasm and big houses and schools and lawns like carpets, and books, and mostly—mostly—let them have their whiteness. It was better to be meek and lowly…than to spend eternity frying in the fires of hell.
“It looks like Joe Louis is going down.” My race groaned. It was our people falling. It was another lynching, yet another Black man hanging on a tree. One more woman ambushed and raped. A Black boy whipped and maimed. It was hounds on the trail of a man running through the slimy swamps. It was a white woman slapping her maid for being forgetful.
It wouldn’t do for a Black man and his family to be caught on a lonely country road on a night when Joe Louis has proved that we were the strongest people in the world.
The white kids were going to have a chance to become Galileos and Madame Curies and Edisons and Gauguins, and our boys (the girls weren’t even in on it) would try to be Jesse Owenses and Joe Louises.
We were on top again. As always, again. We survived. The depths had been icy and dark, but now a bright sun spoke to our souls.
“Annie, my policy is I’d rather stick my hand in a dog’s mouth than in a nigger’s”
I wouldn’t miss Mrs. Flowers, for she had given me her secret world which called forth a djinn who was to serve me all my life: books.
The Japanese were not whitefolks…since they didn’t have to be feared, neither did they have to be considered.
Miss Kirwin never seemed to notice that I was Black and therefore different.
The Black man, the con man who could act the most stupid, won out every time against the powerful, arrogant white.
The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste, and even belligerence. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance.
I patted my son’s body lightly and went back to sleep.