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“I had said to him earlier, violence solves nothing. But it was only a piety, like a grace before meat. I wasn’t attending to its meaning as I said it, and if I thought about it, I felt a hypocrite. It’s only what the strong preach to the weak; you never hear it the other way round; the strong don’t lay down their arms.”

– Hilary Mantel, “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher”

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“There is a rhythm – and you know this – to which people move in any great public space. There is a certain speed that is no one’s decision but is set going every day, soon after dawn. Break the rhythm and you’ll rue it… It occurred to me for the first time that this rhythm is a mystery indeed, controlled not by the railways or the citizens but by a higher power: that it is an aid to dissimulation, a guide to those who would otherwise not know how to act.

“For how many of all these surging thousands are solid, and how many of these assumptions are tricks of the light? How many, I ask you, are connected at all points, how many are utterly and convincingly in the state they purport to be: which is, alive? How many?

“For distinguish me, will you? Distinguish me ‘the distinguished thing.’ Render me the texture of flesh. Pick me what it is, in the timbre of the voice, that marks out the living from the dead. Show me a bone that you know to be a living bone. Flourish it, will you? Find one, and show me.”

– Hilary Mantel, “Terminus”

“Down below there was only a vast white sea of cloud and he realized that he did not know where he was.

“It’ll be the Channel, he thought. I’m sure to fall in the drink.

“He throttled back, pulled off his helmet, undid his straps, and pushed the stick hard over to the left. The Spitfire dipped its port win gand turned smoothly over on to its back. The pilot fell out.

“As he fell, he opened his eyes, because he knew that he must not pass out before the had pulled the cord. On one side he saw the sun; on the other he saw the whiteness of the clouds, and as he feell, as he somersaultedin the air, the white clouds chased the sun and the sun chased the clouds. They chased each other in a small circle; they ran faster and faster and there was the sun and the clouds and the clouds and the sun, and the clouds cmae nearer until suddenly there was no longer any sun but only a great whiteness. The whole world was white and there was nothing in it. It was so white that sometimes it looked black, and after a time it was either white or black, but mostly it was white. He watched it as it turned from white to black, then back to white again, and the white stayed for a long time, but the black lasted only a few seconds. He got into the habit of going to sleep during the white periods, of waking up justin time to see the world when it was black. The black was very quick. Sometimes it was only a flash, a flash of black lightning. The white was slow and in the slowness of it, he always dozed off.

“One day, when it was white, he put out a hand and he touched something. He took it between his fingers and curmpled it. For a time he lay there, idly letting the tips of his fingers play with the thing which they had touched. Then slowly he opened his eyes, looked down at his hand and saw that he was holding something which was white. It was the edge of a sheet.”

– Roald Dahl, “Beware of the Dog”

“…I turned around and saw the sky. It was read and all my life was in it.”

– Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea

“…then I slept. When I woke, it was a different sea.”

– Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea

“No more slavery! She had to laugh! These new ones have Letter of the law. Same thing. They got magistrate. They got fine. They got jail house and chain gang. They got tread machine to mash up people’s feet. New ones worse than old ones – more cunning, that’s all.”

– Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea

“If I was bound for hell let it be hell. No more false heavens. No more damned magic. You hate me and I hate you. We’ll see who hates best. But first, first I will destroy your hatred. Now. My hate is colder, stronger, and you’ll have no hate to warm yourself. You will have nothing.”

– Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea

“The hurricane months are not so far away, I thought, and saw that tree strike its roots deeper, making ready to fight the wind. Useless. If and when it comes they’ll all go… The bamboos take an easier way, they bend to the earth and lie there, creaking, groaning, crying for mercy. The contempuous wind passes, not caring for these abject things. (Let them live.) Howling, shrieking, laughing, the wild blast passes.

“…I think of my revenge and hurricanes. Words rush through my head (heeds too). Words. Pity is one of them… Pity like a naked newborn babe striding the blast.”

– Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea

“They cry out in the wind that is their voice, they rage in the sea that is their anger.”

– Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea

“‘Oh England, England,’ she called back mockingly, and the sound went on and on like a warning I did not choose to hear.”

– Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea

“Embattled groups have to police membership for their own protection. But with policing comes power, and all power’s usual intoxicants.”

– Mat Johnson, Loving Day

“I am a racial optical illusion. I am as visually duplicitous as the illustration of the young beauty that’s also the illustration of the old hag… The people who see me as white always will, and will think it’s madness that anyone else would come to any other conclusion, holding to this falsehood regardless of learning my true identity. The peopel who see me as black cannot imagine how a sane intelligent person would be so bind not to understand this, despite my pale-skinned presence. The only influence I have over this perception is in the initial encounter. Here is my chance to be categorized as black, with an asterisk. The asterisk is my whole body.”

– Mat Johnson, Loving Day

“The topic of the conversation should be how us can come to include all of us. Accomplishing this degree of unity may mean giving up fierce defence of politics and strategies that exacerbate racial tensions and produce for racially defined gruops primarily psychological or cosmetic racial benefits…. So what is to be demanded in this moment in our nation’s racial history? If the answer is more power, more top jobs, more slots in the fancy schools for ‘us’ – a narrow, racially defined us that excludes many – we will continue the same power struggles and can expect to achieve many of the same results.”

– Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

“The color of police chiefs across the country has changed, but the role of the police in our society has not…

“Conventional strategies for social change proceed as though a change in who administers power fundamentally affects the structure of power itlself… The reality, however, is that the existing hierarchy disciplines newcomers, requiring them to exercise power in the same old ways and play by the same old rules in order to survive. The newcomers are easily co-opted, as they have much to lose but little to gain by challenging the rules of the game.”

– Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

“Seeing race is not teh problem. Refusing to care for the people we see is the problem. We should hope not for a colorblind society, but instead for a world in which we can see each other fully, learn from each other, and do what we can to respond to each other with love. That was King’s dream – a society that’s capable of seeing each of us, as we are, with love.”

– Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

“The notion that racial caste systems are necessarily predicated on a desire to harm other racial groups, and that racial hostility is the essence of racism is fundamentally misguided… Most plantation owners supported the institution of black slavery not because of a sadistic desire to harm blacks but instead because they wanted to get rich… Preoccupation with the role of racial hostility in earlier caste systems can blind us to the ways in which every caste system, incdluing mass incarceration, has been supported by racial indifference.”

– Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

“As a society, our collective understanding of racism has been powerfully influenced by the shocking images of the Jim Crow era and the struggle for civil rights… These images make it easy to forget that many wonderful, good-hearted white people who were generous to others, respectful of their neighbors and even kind to their black maids, gardeners, or shoe shiners – and wished them well – nevertheless went to the polls and voted for racial segregation. Many whites who supported Jim Crow justified it on paternalist grounds, actually believing they were doing blacks a favor or believing the time was not yet ‘right’ for equality. The disturbing images from the Jim Crow era also make it easy to forget that many African Americans were complicit in the Jim Crow system, profiting fomr it directly or indirectly or keeping their objections quiet out of fear of the repressions. Our understanding of racism is therefore shaped by the most extreme expressios of individual bigotry, not by the way in whic it functions naturally, almost invisibly (and sometimes with genuinely benign intent), when it is embedded in the structure of a social system.”

– Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

“If Americans were not so terrified of their private selves, they would never have needed to invent and could never have become so dependent on what they still call ‘the Negro problem.’ This problem, which they invented in order to safeguard their purity, has made of them criminals and monsters, and it is destroying them; and this is not from anything blacks may or may not be doing but because of the role a guilty and constricted white imagination has assigned to the blacks. That the scapegoat pays for the sins of others is well known, but this is only legend, and a revealing one at that. In fact, however the scapegoat may be made to suffer, his suffering cannot purify the sinner; it merely incriminates him the more, and it seals his damnation. The scapegoat, eventually, is released, to death: his murderer continues to live. The suffering of the scapegoat has resulted in seas of blood, and yet not one sinner has been saved, or changed, by this despairing ritual. Sin has merely been added to sin, and guilt piled upon guilt. In the private chambers of the soul, the guilty party is identified, and the accusing finger, there, is not legend, but consequence, not fantasy, but the truth. People pay for what they do, and, still more, for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply: by the lives they lead.”

– James Baldwin, No Name in the Street

“Faulkner hoped that American blacks would have the generosity to ‘go slow’ – would allow white people the time to save themselves, as though they had not had more than enough time already.

“…He wants the old order, which came into existence through unchecked greed and wanton murder, to redeem itself without further bloodshed – without, that is, any further menacing itself – and without coercion. This, old orders never do, less because they would not than because they cannot. They cannot because they have always existed in relation to a force which they have had to subdue. This subjugation is the key to their identity and the triumph and justification of their history, which is now indivisible from oneself, has been full of errors and excesses; but this is not the same thing as seeing that, for millions of people, this history – oneself – has been nothing but an intolerable yoke, a stinking prison, a shrieking grave. It is not so easy to see that, for millions of people, life itself depends on the speediest possible demolition of this history, even if this means the leveling, or the destruction of its heirs. And whatever this history may have given to the subjugated is of absolutely no value, since they have never been free to reject it; they will never even be able to assess it until they are free to take from it what they need, and to add to history the monumental fact of their presence.”

– James Baldwin, No Name in the Street

“Time passes and passes. It passes backward and it passes forward and it carries you along, and no one in the whole wide world knows more about time than this:it is carrying you through an element you do not understand into an element you will not remember. Yet, something remembers – it can even be said that something avenges.”

– James Baldwin, No Name in the Street