Toni Morrison Quotes

Chloe Anthony Wofford Morrison, renowned as Toni Morrison, was a celebrated American novelist. Her literary journey commenced with the publication of her debut novel, “The Bluest Eye,” in 1970. It was her critically acclaimed work, “Song of Solomon,” that catapulted her to national prominence and earned her the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award. Wikipedia

“When we trip and fall down they glance at us; if we cut or bruise ourselves, they ask us are we crazy. When we catch colds, they shake their heads in disgust at our lack of consideration. How, they ask us, do you expect anybody to get anything done if you all are sick? We cannot answer them. Our illness is treated with contempt, foul Black Draught, and castor oil that blunts our minds.” ~ Toni Morrison

“There is an incredible amount of magic and feistiness in black men that nobody has been able to wipe out. But everybody has tried.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Things got better but I still had to be careful. Very careful in how I raised her. I had to be strict, very strict. Lula Ann needed to learn how to behave, how to keep her head down and not to make trouble. I don’t care how many times she changes her name. Her color is a cross she will always carry. But it’s not my fault. It’s not my fault. It’s not my fault. It’s not. Bride I’m scared.” ~ Toni Morrison

“As a writer reading, I came to realize the obvious: the subject of the dream is the dreamer.” ~ Toni Morrison

“A dream is just a nightmare with lipstick.” ~ Toni Morrison

“It was my father who could do no wrong. So I didn’t think of it as, oh, look, my father’s a violent man.” ~ Toni Morrison

“You rely on a sentence to say more than the denotation and the connotation; you revel in the smoke that the words send up.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Misery don’t call ahead. That’s why you have to stay awake – otherwise it just walks on in your door.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Somewhere inside you is that free person I’m talking about. Locate her and let her do some good in the world.” ~ Toni Morrison

“She had been looking all along for a friend, and it took her a while to discover that a lover was not a comrade and could never be – for a woman.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Some Native American writers enjoy being called Native American writers.” ~ Toni Morrison

“My home is such a powerfully imaginative place that the space is almost irrelevant. I think the house I live at on the Hudson is where I belong because it’s the only place where I am that I never think about when I’m leaving.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Well, you not the first by a long shot. An integrated army is integrated misery. You all go fight, come back, they treat you like dogs. Change that. They treat dogs better.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window signs – all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured.

“I don’t think one parent can raise a child. I don’t think two parents can raise a child. You really need the whole village.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Nobody loved her and she wouldn’t have liked it if they had, she considered love a serious disability.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind. It is a learned application without reason or motive except that it is God.” ~ Toni Morrison

“There is a difference between being put out and being put outdoors. If you are put out, you go somewhere else; if you are outdoors, there is no place to go. The distinction was subtle but final. Outdoors was the end of something, an irrevocable, physical fact, defining and complementing our metaphysical condition… Dead doesn’t change, and outdoors is here to stay.” ~ Toni Morrison

“What kind of love is it that requires an angel and only an angel for its commitment?” ~ Toni Morrison

“He knew exactly what she meant: to get to a place where you could love anything you chose – not to need permission for desire – well now, that was freedom.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I have only to break into the tightness of a strawberry, and I see summer – its dust and lowering skies.” ~ Toni Morrison

“When a child walks in the room, your child or anybody else’s child, do your eyes light up? That’s what they’re looking for.” ~ Toni Morrison

“American means white, and Africanist people struggle to make the term applicable to themselves with ethnicity and hyphen after hyphen after hyphen.” ~ Toni Morrison

“What she called the nastiness of life was the shock she received upon learning that nobody stopped playing checkers just because the pieces included her children.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The theme you choose may change or simply elude you, but being your own story means you can always choose the tone. It also means that you can invent the language to say who are you and what you mean.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The danger of sympathizing with the stranger is the possibility of becoming a stranger. To lose one’s racial-ized rank is to lose one’s own valued and enshrined difference.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Certain kinds of trauma visited on peoples are so deep, so cruel, that unlike money, unlike vengeance, even unlike justice, or rights, or the goodwill of others, only writers can translate such trauma and turn sorrow into meaning, sharpening the moral imagination.” ~ Toni Morrison

“What I’m doing ain’t about hating White people. It’s about loving us.” ~ Toni Morrison

“But to find out the truth about how dreams die, one should never take the word of the dreamer.” ~ Toni Morrison

“What’s the world for you if you can’t make it up the way you want it?” ~ Toni Morrison

“Don’t let anybody, anybody convince you this is the way the world is and therefore must be. It must be the way it ought to be.” ~ Toni Morrison

“In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.” ~ Toni Morrison

“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.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Sifting daylight dissolves the memory, turns it into dust motes floating in light.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.” ~ Toni Morrison

“No one ever talks about the moment you found that you were white. Or the moment you found out you were black. That’s a profound revelation. The minute you find that out, something happens. You have to renegotiate everything.” ~ Toni Morrison

“A dead hydrangea is as intricate and lovely as one in bloom. Bleak sky is as seductive as sunshine, miniature orange trees without blossom or fruit are not defective; they are that.” ~ Toni Morrison

“When you stiffen, you know that whatever you stiffen about is very important. The stuff is important, the fear itself is information.” ~ Toni Morrison

“She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I get angry about things, then go on and work.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I couldn’t bear to have people mispronounce my name. But the person I was was this person who was called Chloe.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Those white things have taken all I had or dreamed,” she said, “and broke my heartstrings too. There is no bad luck in the world but whitefolks.” ~ Toni Morrison

“If you want to fly, you have to give up the things that weigh you down.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I welcomed the circling sharks but they avoided me as if knowing I preferred their teeth to the chains around my neck my waist my ankles.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I don’t want to be free of you because I am alive only with you.” ~ Toni Morrison

“You can’t own a human being. You can’t lose what you don’t own. Suppose you did own him. Could you really love somebody who was absolutely nobody without you? You really want somebody like that? Somebody who falls apart when you walk out the door? You don’t, do you? And neither does he. You’re turning over your whole life to him. Your whole life, girl. And if it means so little to you that you can just give it away, hand it to him, then why should it mean any more to him? He can’t value you more than you value yourself.” ~ Toni Morrison

“124 WAS SPITEFUL. Full of a baby’s venom. The women in the house knew it and so did the children. For.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Solitude, competitiveness and grief are the unavoidable lot of a writer only when there is no organization or network to which he can turn.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Don’t ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn’t fall in love, I rose in it.” ~ Toni Morrison

“In times of dread, artists must never choose to remain silent.” ~ Toni Morrison

“There in the center of that silence was not eternity but the death of time and a loneliness so profound the word itself had no meaning.” ~ Toni Morrison

“And when she stepped foot on free ground she could not believe that Halle knew what she didn’t; that Halle, who had never drawn one free breath, knew that there was nothing like it in this world. It scared her.” ~ Toni Morrison

“A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves – a special kind of double.” ~ Toni Morrison

“You need a whole community to raise a child. I have raised two children, alone.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Female freedom always means sexual freedom, even when – especially when – it is seen through the prism of economic freedom.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Daily life took as much as she had. The future was sunset; the past something to leave behind. And if it didn’t stay behind, well, you might have to stomp it out.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I want to discourage you from choosing anything or making any decision simply because it is safe. Things of value seldom are.” ~ Toni Morrison

“There is honey in this land sweeter than any I know of, and I have cut cane in places where the dirt itself tasted like sugar, so that’s saying a heap.” ~ Toni Morrison

“If you take racism away from certain people – I mean vitriolic racism as well as the sort of social racist – if you take that away, they may have to face something really terrible – misery, self-misery, and deep pain about who they are.” ~ Toni Morrison

“It’s been mentioned or suggested that Paradise will not be well studied, because it’s about this unimportant intellectual topic, which is religion.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Not knowing it was hard; knowing it was harder.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I always know the ending; that’s where I start.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Like friendship, hatred needed more than physical intimacy; it wanted creativity and hard work to sustain itself.” ~ Toni Morrison

“There is no protection. To be female in this place is to be an open wound that cannot heal. Even if scars form, the festering is ever below.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Unpersecuted, unjailed, unharrassed writers are trouble for the ignorant bully, the sly racist, and the predators feeding off the world’s resources.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Language can never ‘pin down’ slavery, genocide, war. Nor should it yearn for the arrogance to be able to do so. Its force, its felicity, is in its reach toward the ineffable.” ~ Toni Morrison

“It was a fine cry – loud and long – but it had no bottom and it had no top, just circles and circles of sorrow.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I didn’t fall in love, I rose in it.” ~ Toni Morrison

“If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.” ~ Toni Morrison

“So this is what insanity is. Not goofy behavior, but watching a sudden change in the world you used to know.” ~ Toni Morrison

“There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Something that is loved is never lost.” ~ Toni Morrison

“When a man angers you, he conquers you.” ~ Toni Morrison

“It was lovely. Not to be stared at, not seen, but being pulled into view by the interested, uncritical eyes of the other.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Our ancestors are an ever widening circle of hope.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I don’t work. I keep telling people I’m unemployed. And I don’t wash dishes, and I don’t wash clothes, and I don’t clean my house. Somebody else does that.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I don’t think many people appreciate silence or realize that it is as close to music as you can get.” ~ Toni Morrison

“What a man leaves behind is what a man is.” ~ Toni Morrison

“My father saw two black men lynched on his street in Cartersville, as a child. And I think seeing two black businessmen – not vagrants – hanging from trees as a child was traumatic for him.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I dream a dream that dreams back at me.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Like any artist without an art form, she became dangerous.” ~ Toni Morrison

“To Sethe, the future was a matter of keeping the past at bay.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Can’t nothing heal without pain, you know.” ~ Toni Morrison

“If you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Listen up. Let me tell you something. A man ain’t a goddamn ax. Chopping, hacking, busting every goddamn minute of the day. Things get to him. Things he can’t chop down because they’re inside.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Her color is a cross she will always carry.” ~ Toni Morrison

“From my point of view, your life is already a miracle of chance waiting for you to shape its destiny.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Correct what you can; learn from what you can’t.” ~ Toni Morrison

“For a nickel a month, Lady Jones did what whitepeople thought unnecessary if not illegal: crowded her little parlor with the colored children who had time for and interest in book learning.” ~ Toni Morrison

“More than fear of loving bears or birds bigger than cows, I fear pathless nights. How, I wonder, can I find you in the dark?” ~ Toni Morrison

“I always start out with an idea, even a boring idea, that becomes a question I don’t have answers to.” ~ Toni Morrison

“You are your best thing.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge-even wisdom. Like art.” ~ Toni Morrison

“She seemed to fold into herself, like a pleated wing. Her pain antagonized me. I wanted to open her up, crisp her edges, ram a stick down that hunched and curving spine, force her to stand erect and spit the misery out on the streets. But she held it in where it could lap up into her eyes.” ~ Toni Morrison

“We mistook violence for passion, indolence for leisure, and thought recklessness was freedom.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Make a difference about something other than yourselves.” ~ Toni Morrison

“A bestseller is a book that non-book buyers buy.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Nobody loves the head of a dandelion. Maybe because they are so many, strong, and soon.” ~ Toni Morrison

“By and by all trace is gone, and what is forgotten is not only the footprints but the water too and what it is down there. The rest is weather. Not the breath of the disremembered and unaccounted for, but wind in the eaves, or spring ice thawing too quickly. Just weather. Certainly no clamor for a kiss.” ~ Toni Morrison

“If you can’t count, they can cheat you. If you can’t read, they can beat you.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Black women are the touchstone by which all that is human can be measured.” ~ Toni Morrison

“It never looked as terrible as it was and it made her wonder if hell was a pretty place too. Fire and brimstone all right, but hidden in lacy groves.” ~ Toni Morrison

“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.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Being good to somebody is just like being mean to somebody. Risky. You don’t get nothing for it.” ~ Toni Morrison

“To be given dominion over another is a hard thing; to wrest dominion over another is a wrong thing; to give dominion of yourself to another is a wicked thing.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Freedom is choosing your responsibility. It’s not having no responsibilitie s; it’s choosing the ones you want.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I don’t think anybody cares about unwed mothers unless they’re black or poor. The question is not morality, the question is money. That’s what we’re upset about.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I like marriage. The idea.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Whatever happens, whether you get rich or stay poor, ruin your health or live to old age, you always end up back where you started: hungry for the one thing everybody loses – young loving.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Listen, baby, people do funny things. Specially us. The cards are stacked against us and just trying to stay in the game, stay alive and in the game, makes us do funny things. Things we can’t help. Things that make us hurt one another. We don’t even know why. But look here, don’t carry it inside and don’t give it to nobody else. Try to understand it, but if you can’t, just forget it and keep yourself strong, man.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Liberation means you don’t have to be silenced.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Whitepeople believed that whatever the manners, under every dark skin was a jungle.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.” ~ Toni Morrison

“All important things are hard.” ~ Toni Morrison

“What you do to children matters. And they might never forget.” ~ Toni Morrison

“A man ain’t nothing but a man. But a son? Well, now, that’s somebody.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Sula never competed; she simply helped others define themselves.” ~ Toni Morrison

“He would keep the rest where it belonged: in that tobacco tin buried in his chest where a red heart used to be.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Black women have always been friends. I mean, if you didn’t have each other you had nothing.” ~ Toni Morrison

“No matter what all your teeth and wet fingers anticipated, there was no accounting for the way that simple joy could shake you.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The concept of physical beauty as a virtue is one of the dumbest, most pernicious and destructive ideas of the Western world, and we should have nothing to do with it.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I tell my students there is such a thing as ‘writer’s block,’ and they should respect it. You shouldn’t write through it. It’s blocked because it ought to be blocked, because you haven’t got it right now.” ~ Toni Morrison

“All paradises, all utopias are designed by who is not there, by the people who are not allowed in.” ~ Toni Morrison

“People say to write about what you know. I’m here to tell you, no one wants to read that, cos you don’t know anything. So write about something you don’t know. And don’t be scared, ever.” ~ Toni Morrison

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ~ Toni Morrison

“A little black girl yearns for the blue eyes of a little white girl, and the horror at the heart of her yearning is exceeded only by the evil of fulfillment.” ~ Toni Morrison

“She learned the intricacy of loneliness: the horror of color, the roar of soundlessness and the menace of familiar objects lying still.” ~ Toni Morrison

“When they fall in love with a city, it is for forever and it is like forever.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Narrative is radical, creating us at the very moment it is being created.” ~ Toni Morrison

“For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” ~ Toni Morrison

“All narrative begins for me as listening. When I read, I listen. When I write, I listen – for silence, inflection, rhythm, rest.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Anger is better. There is a sense of being in anger. A reality and presence. An awareness of worth. It is a lovely surging.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Love just seems to make life not just livable, but a gallant, gallant event.” ~ Toni Morrison

“If a Negro got legs he ought to use them. Sit down too long, somebody will figure out a way to tie them up.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Sexist language, racist language, theistic language – all are typical of the policing languages of mastery, and cannot, do not, permit new knowledge or encourage the mutual exchange of ideas.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I wanted to separate color from race. Distinguishing color – light, black, in-between – as the marker for race is really an error.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Your life is already artful-waiting, just waiting, for you to make it art.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another – physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Birth, life, and death – each took place on the hidden side of a leaf.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I’m always annoyed about why black people have to bear the brunt of everybody else’s contempt. If we are not totally understanding and smiling, suddenly we’re demons.” ~ Toni Morrison

“One has to work very carefully with what is in between the words. What is not said. Which is measure, which is rhythm and so on. So, it is what you don’t write that frequently gives what you do write its power.” ~ Toni Morrison

“When you know your name, you should hang on to it, for unless it is noted down and remembered, it will die when you do.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Pain. I seem to have an affection, a kind of sweettooth for it. Bolts of lightning, little rivulets of thunder. And I the eye of the storm.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Women’s rights is not only an abstraction, a cause; it is also a personal affair. It is not only about us; it is also about me and you. Just the two of us.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The pieces I am, she gather them and gave them back to me in all the right order.” ~ Toni Morrison

“At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough. No record of it needs to be kept and you don’t need someone to share it with or tell it to. When that happens – that letting go – you let go because you can.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Jealousy we understood and thought natural… But envy was a strange, new feeling for us. And all the time we knew that Maureen Peal was not the Enemy and not worthy of such intense hatred. The Thing to fear was the Thing that made her beautiful, and not us.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Some things you forget. Other things you never do. But it’s not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it’s gone, but the place – the picture of it – stays, and not just in my remory, but out there, in the world. What I remember is a picture floating around out there outside my head. I mean, even if I don’t think if, even if I die, the picture of what I did, or knew, or saw is still out there. Right in the place where it happened.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Everybody gets everything handed to them. The rich inherit it. I don’t mean just inheritance of money. I mean what people take for granted among the middle and upper classes, which is nepotism, the old-boy network.” ~ Toni Morrison

“What difference do it make if the thing you scared of is real or not?” ~ Toni Morrison

“It’s gonna hurt, now,” said Amy.

“You been gone too long, Sula. Not too long, but maybe too far.” ~ Toni Morrison

“To Sethe, the future was a matter of keeping the past at bay. The “better life” she believed she and Denver were living was simply not that other one.” ~ Toni Morrison

“When am I happy and when am I sad and what is the difference? What do I need to know to stay alive? What is true in the world?” ~ Toni Morrison

“Anything dead coming back to life hurts.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The peace I am thinking of is the dance of an open mind when it engages another equally open one.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Black literature is taught as sociology, as tolerance, not as a serious, rigorous art form.” ~ Toni Morrison

“They were solitary little girls whose loneliness was so profound it intoxicated them and sent them stumbling into Technicolored visions that always included a presence, a someone, who, quite like the dreamer, shared the delight of the dream.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The enemy is not men. The enemy is the concept of patriarchy, the concept of patriarchy as the way to run the world or do things.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Home is memory, home is your history, home is where you work. Some people want to abandon it and become truly local. But the questions are all there.” ~ Toni Morrison

“New York is the last true city.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Write at the edges of the day.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The presence of evil was something to be first recognized, then dealt with, survived, outwitted, triumphed over.” ~ Toni Morrison

“At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Black people are victims of an enormous amount of violence. None of those things can take place without the complicity of the people who run the schools and the city.” ~ Toni Morrison

“There is no civilization that did not begin with art, Whether it was drawing a line in the sand, painting a cave or dancing.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Somebody has to take responsibility for being a leader.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Like Guitar in Son of Solomon, and Son in Tar Baby, he believed that harmony could never exist between the races.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Every now and then she looked around for tangible evidence of his having ever been there. Where were the butterflies? the blueberries? the whistling reed? She could find nothing, for he had left nothing but his stunning absence. An absence so decorative, so ornate, it was difficult for her to understand how she had ever endured, without falling dead or being consumed, his magnificent presence.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Every now and then she looked around for tangible evidence of his having ever been there. Where were the butterflies? the blueberries? the whistling reed? She could find nothing, for he had left nothing but his stunning absence.” ~ Toni Morrison

“But her brain was not interested in the future. Loaded with the past and hungry for more, it left her no room to imagine, let alone plan for, the next day.” ~ Toni Morrison

“It would be ten years before they saw each other again, and their meeting would be thick with birds.” ~ Toni Morrison

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work – not when everything is fine, but in times of dread. That’s our job!” Toni Morrison.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The seeds of destruction lie in the definition of “chosen-ness” and can easily blossom into bigotry. It’s not inevitable but it needs constant care to avoid.” ~ Toni Morrison

“An innocent man is a sin before God. Inhuman and therefore untrustworthy. No man should live without absorbing the sins of his kind, the foul air of his innocence, even if it did wilt rows of angel trumpets and cause them to fall from their vines.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The fire seemed to live, go down, or die according to its own schemata. In the morning, however, it always saw fit to die.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Love is never any better than the lover.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Men who knew their manhood lay in their guns and were not even embarrassed by the knowledge that without gunshot fox would laugh at them.” ~ Toni Morrison

“All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.” ~ Toni Morrison

“It is sheer good fortune to miss somebody long before they leave you.” ~ Toni Morrison

“God take what He would,” she said. And He did, and He did, and He did and then gave her Halle who gave her freedom when it didn’t mean a thing.” ~ Toni Morrison

“You have to be willing to think the unthinkable.” ~ Toni Morrison

“They had stared at her with great uncomprehending eyes. Eyes that questioned nothing and asked everything. Unblinking and unabashed, they stared up at her. The end of the world lay in their eyes, and the beginning, and all the waste in bewteen.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Pain was greedy; it demanded all of her attention.” ~ Toni Morrison

“You think because he doesn’t love you that you are worthless. You think because he doesn’t want you anymore that he is right- that his judgement and opinion of you are correct. If he throws you out, then you are garbage. You think he belongs to you because you want to belong to him. Hagar, don’t. It’s a bad word, ‘belong.’ Especially when you put it with somebody you love. Love shouldn’t be like that.” ~ Toni Morrison

“In the safe harbor of each other’s company they could afford to abandon the ways of other people and concentrate on their own perceptions of things.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Racism will disappear when it’s no longer profitable, and no longer psychologically useful. And when that happens, it’ll be gone. But at the moment, people make a lot of money off of it, pro and con.” ~ Toni Morrison

“If you can only be tall because someone else is on their knees, then you have a serious problem. And white people have a very, very serious problem.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Although she has claim, she is not claimed. In the place where long grass opens, the girl who waited to be loved and cry shame erupts into her separate parts, to make it easy for the chewing laughter to swallow her all away.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I don’t know whether the bird you are holding is dead or alive, but what I do know is that it is in your hands. It is in your hands.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I’m not entangled in shaping my work according to other people’s views of how I should have done it.” ~ Toni Morrison

“As soon as one strip of husk was down, the rest obeyed and the ear yielded up to him its shy rows, exposed at last. How loose the silk. How quick the jailed-up flavor ran free. No matter what all your teeth and wet fingers anticipated, there was no accounting for the way that simple joy could shake you. How loose the silk. How fine and loose and free.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Everything depends on knowing how much,” she said, and “Good is knowing when to stop.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Love is divine only and difficult always.” ~ Toni Morrison

“From the beginning, his mother and Pilate had fought for his life, and he had never so much as made either of them a cup of tea.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I wish I’d a knowed more people. I would of loved ’em all. If I’d a knowed more, I would a loved more.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The best art is political and you ought to be able to make it unquestionably political and irrevocably beautiful at the same time.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Women did what strawberry plants did before they shot out their thin vines: the quality of the green changed. Then the vine threads came, then the buds. By the time the white petals died and the mint-colored berry poked out, the leaf shine was gilded tight and waxy.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Adults do not talk to us – they give us directions. They issue orders without providing information.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I want to feel what I feel. What’s mine. Even if it’s not happiness, whatever that means. Because you’re all you’ve got.” ~ Toni Morrison

“There is no bad luck in the world but whitefolks.” ~ Toni Morrison

“No gasp at a miracle that is truly miraculous because the magic lies in the fact that you knew it was there for you all along.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I want to do good work. I want to be involved in other people’s doing good work.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Race is the least reliable information you can have about someone. It’s real information, but it tells you next to nothing.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The only way to own what I know is to write it and let you read it.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Movements toward freedom and the self-respect that comes from something other than what people think is their most important feature.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The sad thing was that Pauline did not really care for clothes and makeup. She merely wanted other women to cast favorable glances her way.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Not even trying, he had become the kind of man who could walk into a house and make the women cry. Because with him, in his presence, they could. There was something blessed in his manner. Women saw him and wanted to weep – to tell him that their chest hurt and their knees did too. Strong women and wise saw him and told him things they only told each other:.” ~ Toni Morrison

“In Ohio seasons are theatrical. Each one enters like a prima donna, convinced its performance is the reason the world has people in it.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The vitality of language lies in its ability to limn the actual, imagined and possible lives of its speakers, readers, writers.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Anything is better than the silence when she answered to hands gesturing and was indifferent to the movement of lips. When she saw every little thing and colors leaped smoldering into view. She will forgo the most violent of sunsets, stars as fat as dinner plates and all the blood of autumn and settle for the palest yellow if it comes from her Beloved.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Laughter is more serious than tears.” ~ Toni Morrison

“How exquisitely human was the wish for permanent happiness, and how thin human imagination became trying to achieve it.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Here I am not the one to throw out. No one steals my warmth and shoes because I am small. No one handles my backside. No one whinnies like sheep or goat because I drop in fear and weakness. No one screams at the sight of me. No one watches my body for how it is unseemly. With you my body is pleasure is safe is belonging. I can never not have you have me.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Lonely, ain’t it? Yes, but my lonely is mine. Now your lonely is somebody else’s. Made by somebody else and handed to you. Ain’t that something? A secondhand lonely.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Who’s Got Game? The Ant or the Grasshopper? The Lion or the Mouse? Poppy or the Snake?” ~ Toni Morrison

“I sometimes lose interest in the characters and get much more interested in the trees and animals.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” ~ Toni Morrison

“From my point of view, which is that of a storyteller, I see your life as something artful, waiting, just waiting and ready for you to make it art.” ~ Toni Morrison

“My world did not shrink because I was a black female writer. It just got bigger.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Sweet, she thought. He must think I can’t bear to hear him say it. That after all I have told him and after telling me how many feet I have, “goodbye” would break me to pieces. Ain’t that sweet.

“The language must be careful and must appear effortless. It must not sweat. It must suggest and be provocative at the same time.” ~ Toni Morrison

“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Would it be all right? Would it be all right to go ahead and feel? Go ahead and count on something?” ~ Toni Morrison

“Long before I was a success, my parents made me feel like I could be one.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Which was what love was: unmotivated respect.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The habit of getting up early, which I had formed when the children were young, now became my choice. I am not very bright or very witty or very inventive after the sun goes down.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I’ll explain to her, even though I don’t have to. Why I did it. How if I hadn’t killed her she would have died and that is something I could not bear to happen to her.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Passion is never enough; neither is skill.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Art is not mere entertainment or decoration, it has meaning, and we both want and need to fathom that meaning – not fear, dismiss, or construct superficial responses told to us by authorities.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The best thing, he knew, was to love just a little bit; everything, just a little bit, so when they broke its back, or shoved it in a croaker sack, well, maybe you’d have a little love left over for the next one.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Beloved, you are my sister, you are my daughter, you are my face; you are me.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Sunk in the grass of an empty lot on a spring Saturday, I split the stems of milkweed and thought about ants and peach pits and death and where the world went when I closed my eyes.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I wonder if the person he wants to marry is me or a black girl? And if it isn’t me he wants, but any black girl who looks like me, talks and acts like me, what will happen when he finds out that I hate ear hoops, that I don’t have to straighten my hair, that Mingus puts me to sleep, that sometimes I want to get out of my skin and be only the person inside – not American – not black – just me?” ~ Toni Morrison

“Everywhere, everywhere, children are the scorned people of the earth.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I learned much later to worship her, just as I learned to delight in cleanliness, knowing, even as I learned, that the change was adjustment without improvement.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Black women were armed, black women were dangerous and the less money they had the deadlier the weapon they chose.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Good is knowing when to stop.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Lay my head on the railroad line. Train come along; pacify my mind.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Art invites us to know beauty and to solicit it, summon it, from even the most tragic of circumstances.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I thought the whole world was like Lorain.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Nobody counted on Garner dying. Nobody thought he could. How ’bout that? Everything rested on Garner being alive. Without his life each of theirs fell to pieces. Now ain’t that slavery or what is it?” ~ Toni Morrison

“Beauty was not simply something to behold; it was something one could do.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Clever, but schoolteacher beat him anyway to show him that definitions belonged to the definers – not the defined.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The sun and the moon shared the horizon in a distant friendship, each unfazed by the other.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown. In my heart it don’t mean a thing.” ~ Toni Morrison

“What I think the political correctness debate is really about is the power to be able to define. The definers want the power to name. And the defined are now taking that power away from them.” ~ Toni Morrison

“No matter how hard we try to ignore it, the mind always knows truth and wants clarity.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The disappointment he felt in his daughters sifted down on them like ash, dulling their buttery complexions and choking the lilt out of what should have been girlish voices.” ~ Toni Morrison

“There is a loneliness that can be rocked. Arms crossed, knees drawn up, holding, holding on, this motion, unlike a ship’s, smooths and contains the rocker. It’s an inside kind – wrapped tight like skin. Then there is the loneliness that roams. No rocking can hold it down. It is alive. On its own. A dry and spreading thing that makes the sound of one’s own feet going seem to come from a far-off place.” ~ Toni Morrison

“You are worthy to be seen. You are worthy to be heard. You are worthy to be sat with, to be walked beside. Even in your quietest moments, you are worthy of witness.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.” ~ Toni Morrison

“There was a hint of spring in her sole green eyes, something summery in her complexion, and a rich autumn ripeness in her walk.” ~ Toni Morrison

“It wasn’t a miracle. Bestowed by God. It was a mercy. Offered by a human.” ~ Toni Morrison

“It had been the longest time since she had had a rib-scraping laugh. She had forgotten how deep and down it could be. So different from the miscellaneous giggles and smiles she had learned to be content with these past few years.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Being able to laugh got me through.” ~ Toni Morrison

“You looked at me then like you knew me, and I thought it really was Eden, and I couldn’t take your eyes in because I was loving the hoof marks on your cheeks.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I don’t want to make somebody else. I want to make myself.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another – physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion. In equating physical beauty with virtue, she stripped her mind, bound it, and collected self-contempt by the heap.” ~ Toni Morrison

“There is really nothing more to say-except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Writing is really a way of thinking – not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic or just sweet.” ~ Toni Morrison

“And then she knew. Her friends and neighbors were angry at her because she had overstepped, given too much, offended them by excess.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The function of freedom is to free someone else.” ~ Toni Morrison

“A coward with a gun is the most dangerous person in the world.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Let your face speak what’s in your heart. When my kids walk in the room my face says I’m glad to see them.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The box had done what Sweet Home had not, what working like an ass and living like a dog had not: drove him crazy so he would not lose his mind.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Black boys became criminalized. I was in constant dread for their lives, because they were targets everywhere. They still are.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I had only one desire: to dismember it. To see of what it was made, to discover the dearness, to find the beauty, the desirability that had escaped me, but apparently only me.” ~ Toni Morrison

“If writing is thinking and discovery and selection and order and meaning, it is also awe and reverence and mystery and magic.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The death of self-esteem can occur quickly, easily in children, before their ego has “legs,” so to speak. Couple the vulnerability of youth with indifferent parents, dismissive adults, and a world, which, in its language, laws, and images, re-enforces despair, and the journey to destruction is sealed.” ~ Toni Morrison

“He didn’t mean it. It happened before he was through. She’d stepped away from him to pick flowers, returned, and at the sound of her footsteps behind him, he’d turned around before he was through. It was becoming a habit––this concentration on things behind him. Almost as though there were no future to be had.” ~ Toni Morrison

“We will be judged by how well we love.” ~ Toni Morrison

“She needed what most colored girls needed: a chorus of mamas, grandmamas, aunts, cousins, sisters, neighbors, Sunday school teachers, best girl friends, and what all to give her the strength life demanded of her – and the humor with which to live it.” ~ Toni Morrison

“When there is pain, there are no words. All pain is the same.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I merged those two words, black and feminist, because I was surrounded by black women who were very tough and and who always assumed they had to work and rear children and manage homes.” ~ Toni Morrison

“She was the third beer. Not the first one, which the throat receives with almost tearful gratitude; nor the second, that confirms and extends the pleasure of the first. But the third, the one you drink because it’s there, because it can’t hurt, and because what difference does it make?” ~ Toni Morrison

“Misery colored by the greens and blues in my mother’s voice took away all the grief out of the words and left me with a conviction that pain was not only endurable, it was sweet.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I don’t believe any real artists have ever been non-political. They may have been insensitive to this particular plight or insensitive to that, but they were political, because that’s what an artist is-a politician.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Outside, snow solidified itself into graceful forms. The peace of winter stars seemed permanent.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Access to knowledge is the superb, the supreme act of truly great civilizations. Of all the institutions that purport to do this, free libraries stand virtually alone in accomplishing this mission.” ~ Toni Morrison

“And I am all the things I have ever loved: scuppernong wine, cool baptisms in silent water, dream books and number playing.” ~ Toni Morrison

“If you’re going to hold someone down you’re going to have to hold on by the other end of the chain. You are confined by your own repression.” ~ Toni Morrison

“When I woke up I reminded myself that freedom is never free. You have to fight for it. Work for it and make sure you are able to handle it. Now.” ~ Toni Morrison

“As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.” ~ Toni Morrison

“You free. Nothing and nobody is obliged to save you but you.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Shallow believers prefer a shallow God.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Don’t beg anybody for anything, especially love.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The threads of malice creeping toward him from Beloved’s side of the table were held harmless in the warmth of Sethe’s smile.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Sweet, crazy conversations full of half sentences, daydreams and misunderstandings more thrilling than understanding could ever be.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I stood at the border, stood at the edge and claimed it as central. l claimed it as central, and let the rest of the world move over to where I was.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Lonely was much better than alone.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Unless carefree, mother love was a killer.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. Language alone is meditation.” ~ Toni Morrison

“For now he knew what Shalimar knew: If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.” ~ Toni Morrison

“If happiness is anticipation with certainty, we were happy.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Let your face speak what’s in your heart.” ~ Toni Morrison

“All art is knowing when to stop.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Beginning Beloved with numerals rather than spelled out numbers, it was my intention to give the house an identity separate from the street or even the city.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I’m interested in the way in which the past affects the present and I think that if we understand a good deal more about history, we automatically understand a great more about contemporary life.” ~ Toni Morrison

“There is nothing of any consequence in education, in the economy, in city planning, in social policy that does not concern black people.” ~ Toni Morrison

“The last of her children, whom she barely glanced at when he was born because it wasn’t worth the trouble to try to learn features you would never see change into adulthood anyway.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Being a minority in both caste and class, we moved about anyway on the hem of life, struggling to consolidate our weaknesses and hang on, or to creep singly up into the major folds of the garment.” ~ Toni Morrison

“I can’t explain inspiration. A writer is either compelled to write or not. And if I waited for inspiration I wouldn’t really be a writer.” ~ Toni Morrison

“You marvel at the economy and this choice of words. How many ways can you describe the sky and the moon? After Sylvia Plath, what can you say?” ~ Toni Morrison

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