30 Quotes on Race and Justice

black and white hands holding one another, race and justice

These 30 quotes on race and justice are invitations to think. I do not ask for anything else. Just sit, read, think, and examine your response. Ask the hard questions of yourself, do not accept easy answers. Allow yourself to be challenged.

Imani Perry

We’re so busy saying, ‘I’m not that; I’m not that; I’m not that thing I don’t want to be’ that is becomes very hard to engage in correctives of our behavior.”

Toni Morrison

In this country, American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.

Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge… It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottomed-out mind.”

Racism will disappear when it’s … no longer profitable and no longer psychologically useful. When that happens, it’ll be gone.”

Racism is a construct, a social construct and it has benefits. Money can be made off of it, people who don’t like themselves can feel better because of it, it can describe certain kinds of behavior that can are wrong or misleading, so it has a social function, racism.”

James Baldwin

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.

Love takes off the masks we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.

To accept one’s past—one’s history—is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it. An invented past can never be used; it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought.

Precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience, you must find yourself at war with your society.

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”

Audre Lorde

I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”

For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives here. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices.”

Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge. Yet all too often, guilt is just another name for impotence, for defensiveness destructive of communication; it becomes a device to protect ignorance and the continuation of things the way they are, the ultimate protection for changelessness.”

Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity… The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.”

Sometimes we are blessed with being able to choose the time, and the arena, and the manner of our revolution, but more usually we must do battle where we are standing.”

Maya Angelou

I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.”

Only equals can become friends.”

You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one’s own self.”

MLK, Jr.

This bloodlust interpretation ignores one of the most striking features of the city riots. Violent they certainly were. But the violence, to a startling degree, was focused against property rather than against people… I am aware that there are many who wince at a distinction between property and persons—who hold both sacrosanct. My views are not so rigid. Life is sacred. Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on; it is not man.”

When there is massive unemployment in the black community, it’s called a social problem. But when there is massive unemployment in the white community, it’s called a depression. With the black man, it’s ‘welfare,’ with the whites it’s ‘subsidies.’ This country has socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the poor.”

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.”

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”

Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”

There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

Frantz Fanon

O my body, make of me always a man who questions!

When people like me, they like me ‘in spite of my color.’ When they dislike me; they point out that it isn’t because of my color. Either way, I am locked in to the infernal circle.

Hate is not inborn; it has to be constantly cultivated, to be brought into being, in conflict with more or less recognized guilt complexes. Hate demands existence and he who hates has to show his hate in appropriate actions and behavior; in a sense, he has to become hate. That is why Americans have substituted discrimination for lynching. Each to his own side of the street.”

Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are
presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new
evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is
extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it
is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize,
ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief

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