“White people have not always been ‘white,’ nor will they always be ‘white.’ It is a political alliance. Things will change.” -Amoja Three Rivers
“I remember the very day that I became colored.” - Zora Neale Hurston
“Now you must understand that this is just a name we have. I am not back and you are not black either, if you go by the evidence of your eyes. . . . Anyway, black people are all colors. White people don’t look all the same way, but there are more different kinds of us than there are of then. Then too, there is a certain stage [at] which you cannot tell who is white and who is black. Many of the people I see who are thought of as black could just as well be white in their appearance. Many of the white people I see are black as far as I can tell by the way they look. Now, that’s it for looks. Looks don’t mean much. The things that makes us different is how we think. What we believe is important, the ways we look at life.”
- A nearly 90-year-old black man, in an interview conducted by a blind, black anthropologist
a Negro, of course, from the remarkable legal point of view which obtains in the United States, but more importantly, as he tried to make clear to his interlocutor [the person with whom he was speaking, the one who questioning why he considered himself black], he was a Negro by choice and by depth of involvement--by experience, in fact.”
- James Baldwin, writing about John Davis, a multi-racial man who was the head of the delegation of writers and artists, at the 1956 Conference of Negro-African Writers and Artists
My old man’s a white old man
And my old mother’s black.
If ever I cursed my white old man,
I take my curses back.
If ever I cursed my old black mother
And wishes she were in hell,
I’m sorry for that evil wish
And now I wish her well.
My old man died in a fine big house.
My ma died in a shack.
I wonder where I’m gonna die,
Being neither white nor black”
-Langston Hughes, 1970
“The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line,--the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea.” –W.E.B. Du Bois,
The Souls of Black Folk
“The discovery of personal whiteness among the world’s people is a very modern thing. The ancient world would have laughed at such a distinction.” – W.E.B. Du Bois
“The white race cannot tell when they began to be known as such.” – Rev. Harvey Johnson
“. . . you could take two white guys from the same place—one would carry his whiteness like a loaded stick, ready to bop everybody else on the head with it; and the other would just simply be white . . . and let it go at that. I liked those two white kids; they were white, but as my Aunt Fanny used to say, they couldn’t help that.” – Chester B. Himes.
“When the first Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, there were no ‘white’ people there; nor, according to the colonial records, would there be for another sixty years.” — Theodore W. Allen
“Perhaps it is wrong to speak of it [race] at all as a concept rather than as a group of contradictory forces, facts and tendencies.” – W.E.B. Du Bois
“Americans of European descent invented race during the era of the American Revolution as a way of resolving the contradiction between a natural right to freedom and the fact of slavery.” – Historian Barbara J. Fields
“I’d like to say that when I say “white” I’m not talking about the color of anybody’s skin. I’m not talking about race. It’s a curious country, a curious civilization, that thinks of it as race. I don’t believe any of that. White people are imagined. White people are white only because they want to be white. . .” – James Baldwin