And fantasy it was, for we were not strong, only aggressive; we were not free, merely licensed; we were not compassionate, we were polite; not good, but well behaved. We courted death in order to call ourselves brave, and hid like thieves from life. We substituted good grammar for intellect; we switched habits to simulate maturity; we rearranged lies and called it truth, seeing in the new pattern of an old idea the Revelation and the Word.
When she awoke there was a melody in her head she could not identify or recall ever hearing before. 'Perhaps I made it up,' she thought. Then it came to her - the name of the song and all its lyrics just as she had heard it many times before. She sat on the edge of the bed thinking, 'There aren't any more new songs and I have sung all the ones there are. I have sung them all. I have sung all the songs there are.
Womanists is what black feminists used to call themselves. Very much so. They were not the same thing. And also the relationship with men. Historically, black women have always sheltered their men because they were out there, and they were the ones that were most likely to be killed.
I am a writer and my faith in the world of art is intense, but not irrational, nor naïve - because art takes us and makes us take a journey beyond price, beyond cost, into bearing witness to the world as it is and as it should be. Art invites us to know beauty and to solicit it, summon it, from even the most tragic of circumstances.
It was not death or dying that frightened him, but the unexpectedness of both. In sorting it all out, he hit on the notion that if one day a year were devoted to it, everybody could get it out of the way and the rest of the year would be safe and free. In this manner he instituted National Suicide Day.
You looked at them and wondered why they were so ugly; you looked closely and could not find the source. Then you realized that it came from conviction, their conviction. It was as though some mysterious all-knowing master had given each one a cloak of ugliness to wear, and they had each accepted it without question.
Love is never any better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love a free man is never safe. There is no gift for the beloved. the lover alone possesses his gift of love. The loved one is shorn, neutralized, frozen in the glance of the lover’s inward eyes.
In order to be as free as I possibly can, in my own imagination, I can't take positions that are closed. Everything I've ever done, in the writing world, has been to expand articulation, rather than to close it, to open doors, sometimes, not even closing the book -- leaving the endings open for reinterpretation, revisitation, a little ambiguity.
I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.
I lived in a little working-class town that had no black neighborhoods at all - one high school. We all played together. Everybody was either somebody from the South or an immigrant from East Europe or from Mexico. And there was one church, and there were four elementary schools. And we were all, pretty much until the end of the war, very, very poor.