a racialized classification of people, usually a political and skin color-based category for specific populations with a mid to dark brown complexion
Black people usually refers to people of relatively recent African descent (see African diaspora), although other usages extend the term to any of the populations characterized by having a dark skin color, a definition that also includes certain populations in Oceania and Southwest Asia.
A - HEdit
- Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beat each other up.
- Muhammad Ali, attributed in Chambers Sporting Quotations (1990), by Simon James, p. 27
- It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others. … One ever feels his twoness, — an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warrings ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
- W.E.B. Du Bois The Souls of Black Folk
- History has thrown the colored man out. You look in vain to Bancroft and other historians for justice to the colored. The historian passes it by.
- William Wells Brown in an address at the American Anti-Slavery Society in May 1860, New York. Anti-Slavery Standard, May 26, 1860
- The typical black family in this country has one-tenth the wealth of the typical white family. Black women die in childbirth at four times the rate of white women. And there is, of course, the shame of this land of the free boasting the largest prison population on the planet, of which the descendants of the enslaved make up the largest share.
- Ta-Nehisi Coates Makes the Case for Reparations at Historic Congressional Hearing, Democracy Now' (20 June 2019)
- Being black in America has little to do with skin color. Being black means that your heart, your soul, your mind, and your body are where the dispossessed are.
- James Cone, Black Theology and Black Power (1969), p. 151
- "Fleecy locks and black complexion
Cannot forfeit nature's claim;
Skins may differ, but affection
Dwells in white and black the same."
- William Cowper, 1731-1800, from The Negro's Complaint, quoted by Letitia Elizabeth Landon in Duty and Inclination, 1838, Vol.3, p.260.
- They have many capabilities which are as yet undeveloped. When once they are surrounded by the influence of Christianity and civilization, their progress may be fully equal to that of other nations. Like a new-born child the germs are there, but the surrounding conditions have tended to rather dwarf than develop. Even the little children know the names and characteristics of the plants and trees. Many, too, have a good knowledge of native herbs, and some diseases are successfully treated by the native doctors. The children are familiar with the names and habits of insects, birds, snakes, and animals. … They have a good knowledge of the geography of the country for miles around, knowing the names and situations of all the villages, rivers, hills, and mountains. To them the narrow foot-paths, which seem like net-work, are as familiar as the plain highways in other lands. As far as knowledge of the civilized world is concerned they are almost totally ignorant. It seems to end with the sea, because they know there is an ocean, but they know of nothing beyond.
- Mrs. W. E. Fay, missionary at the Bié Plateau, central Angola, in West Central Africa, Life and Light for Woman, Vol. XIX (November 1889)
- They appeared all to have made considerable progress in reading for the time they had respectively been in the school, and most of them answered readily and well the questions of the catechism. They behaved very orderly, and showed a proper respect and ready obedience to the mistress, and seemed very attentive to, and a good deal affected by, a serious exhoration with which Mister Sturgeon concluded our visit. I was on the whole much pleased, and from what I then saw, have conceived a higher opinion of the natural capacities of the black race, than I had ever before entertained. Their apprehension seems as quick, their memory as strong, and their docility in every respect equal to that of white children.
- Benjamin Franklin, letter to Waring (17 December 1783), after visiting a school, as quoted in The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin (March 2002), by H.W. Brands, p. 355.
- We do not even inquire whether a black man is a rebel in arms or not; if he is black, be he friend or foe, he is thought best kept at a distance. It is hardly possible God will let us succeed while such enormities are 'practiced.
- James A. Garfield, regarding slavery (1862), as quoted in Garfield: A Biography (1978), by Allan Peskin, p. 145.
- Once again a 'hate stare' drew my attention like a magnet. It came from a middle-aged, heavyset, well-dressed white man. He sat a few yards away, fixing his eyes on me. Nothing can describe the withering horror of this. You feel lost, sick at heart before such unmasked hatred, not so much because it threatens you as because it shows humans in such an inhuman light. You see a kind of insanity, something so obscene the very obscenity of it (rather than its threat) terrifies you. It was so new I could not take my eyes from the man's face. I felt like saying, 'What in God's name are you doing to yourself?'
- John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me (1961)
- So the noise poured forth like a jazzed-up fugue, louder and louder to cover the whisper in every man’s soul. “You are black. You are condemned.” This is what the white man mistook for “jubilant living” and called “whooping it up.” This is how the white man can say, “They live like dogs,” never realizing why they must, to save themselves, shout, get drunk, shake the hip, pour pleasures into bellies deprived of happiness. Otherwise, the sounds from the quarter would lose order and rhythm and become wails.”
- John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me (1961)
- The social studies I’ve read... don’t deal with any basic difference in human nature between black and white... They only study the effects of environment on human nature. You place the white man in the ghetto, deprive him of educational advantages, arrange it so he has to struggle hard to fulfill his instinct for self-respect, give him little physical privacy and less leisure, and he would after a time assume the same characteristics you attach to the Negro. These characteristics don’t spring from whiteness or blackness, but from a man’s conditioning.
- John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me (1961)
- What fragmented individualism really meant was what happened to a black man who tried to make it in this society: in order to succeed, he had to become an imitation white man - dress white, talk white, think white, express the values of middle-class white culture (at least when he was in the presence of white men). Implied in all this was the hiding, the denial, of his selfhood, his negritude, his culture, as though they were somehow shameful. If he succeeded, he was an alienated marginal man - alienated from the strength of his culture and from fellow black men, and never able, of course, to become that imitation white man because he bore the pigment that made the white man view him as intrinsically other.
- John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me (1961)
- The emotional garbage I had carried all of those years - the prejudice and the denial, the shame and the guilt - was dissolved by understanding that the Other is not other at all.
- John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me, (1961)
- By keeping “peaceful” in this instance, we end up consenting to the destruction of all peace - for so long as we condone injustice by a small but powerful group, we condone the destruction of all social stability, all real peace.
- John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me, (1961)
- He was not talking with US, but with his IMAGE of us.
- John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me, (1961)
I - ZEdit
- [N]ature has given to our black brethren, talents equal to those of the other colors of men.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Benjamin Banneker (30 August 1791)
- Negroes are not the only victims. How many white children have gone uneducated, how many white families have lived in stark poverty, how many white lives have been scarred by fear, because we have wasted our energy and our substance to maintain the barriers of hatred and terror?
- Lyndon B. Johnson, Special Message to the Congress: The American Promise, March 15, 1965
- The only people who accept slavery are the Negroes, owing to their low degree of humanity and proximity to the animal stage. Other persons who accept the status of slave do so as a means of attaining high rank, or power, or wealth, as is the case with the Mameluke Turks in the East and with those Franks and Galicians who enter the service of the state [in Spain].
- Ibn Khaldun as quoted in Bernard Lewis, Race and Color in Islam, Harper and Row, 1970, quote on page 38. The brackets are displayed by Lewis.
- Racial differences will fade away in the New World.
Speak not of races. The drops of different seas are alike.
- 'I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now, and will do so until the end of my days. Even although I now happen to be tried by one whose opinion I hold in high esteem, I detest most violently the set-up that surrounds me here. It makes me feel that I am a black man in a white man's court. This should not be.’
- One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.
- Martin Luther King Jr. I have a dream (1963) speech
- I have a dream: That one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
- Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream (1963)
- I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream — a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man's skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality.
- Martin Luther King Jr., (11 May 1959) "Address at the Religious Leaders Conference"; Washington, D.C.
- Living with the conditions of slavery and then, later, segregation, the Negroes lost faith in themselves. Many came to feel that perhaps they were inferior. But then something happened to the Negro. Circumstances made it possible and necessary for him to travel more. The coming of the automobile, the upheavals of two world wars, the Great Depression. And so his rural plantation background gradually gave way to urban industrial life. His economic life was gradually rising through the growth of industry, the influence of organized labor, expanded educational opportunities; and even his cultural life was rising through the steady decline of crippling illiteracy. All of these forces conjoined to cause the Negro to take a new look at himself.
Negro masses all over began to reevaluate themselves. The Negro came to feel that he was somebody. His religion revealed to him that God loves all of his children and that all men are made in his image. That the basic thing about a man is not his specificity but his fundamental; not the texture of his hair or the color of his skin, but his eternal dignity and worth. So the Negro can now unconsciously cry out with the eloquent poet: "fleecy locks and black complexion cannot forfeit nature's claim; skin may differ but affection dwells in black and white the same. Were I so tall as to reach the pole or to grasp the ocean and the sand. I must be measured by my soul; the mind is a standard of the man." With this new sense of dignity, this new sense of self respect, a new Negro came into being with a new determination to suffer and struggle and sacrifice in order to be free. So in a real sense we have come a long, long way since 1619.
- Martin Luther King Jr., Speech at Dartmouth, May 23, 1962
- The history books, which had almost completely ignored the contribution of the Negro in American history, only served to intensify the Negroes' sense of worthlessness and to augment the anachronistic doctrine of white supremacy. All too many Negroes and whites are unaware of the fact that the first American to shed blood in the revolution which freed this country from British oppression was a black seaman named Crispus Attucks. Negroes and whites are almost totally oblivious of the fact that it was a Negro physician, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, who performed the first successful operation on the heart in America. Another Negro physician, Dr. Charles Drew, was largely responsible for developing the method of separating blood plasma and storing it on a large scale, a process that saved thousands of lives in World War II and has made possible many of the important advances in powstwar medicine. History books have virtually overlooked the many Negro scientists and inventors who have enriched American life. Although a few refer to George Washington Carver, whose research in agricultural products helped to revive the economy of the South when the throne of King Cotton began to totter, they ignore the contribution of Norbert Rillieuz, whose invention of an evaporating pan revolutionized the process of sugar refining. How many people know that multimillion-dollar United Shoe Machinery Company developed from the shoe-lasting machine invented in the last century by a Negro from Dutch Guiana, Jan Matzelinger; or that Granville T. Woods, an expert in electric motors, whose many patents speeded the growth and improvement of the railroads at the beginning of this century, was a Negro?
Even the Negroes' contribution to the music of America is sometimes overlooked in astonishing ways. In 1965 my oldest son and daughter entered an integrated school in Atlanta. A few months later my wife and I were invited to attend a program entitled "Music that has made America great." As the evening unfolded, we listened to the folk songs and melodis of the various immigrant groups. We were certain that the program would end with the most original of all American music, the Negro spiritual. But we were mistaken. Instead, all the students, including our children, ended the program by singing "Dixie".
- Martin Luther King Jr., as quoted in Carson, Clayborne. 2001. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Grand Central Publishing. Cap: Black Power.
- In the struggle for human rights and justice, Negros will make a mistake if they become bitter and indulge in hate campaigns.
- Martin Luther King Jr., Speech delivered in Finney Chapel at Oberlin College (7 February 1957), as reported in "When MLK came to Oberlin" by Cindy Leise (The Chronicle-Telegram; January 21, 2008)
- The non-violent Negro is seeking to create the beloved community. He directs his attack on the forces of evil rather than on individuals. The tensions are not between the races, but between the forces of justice and injustice; between the forces of light and darkness.
- Martin Luther King, speech delivered in Finney Chapel at Oberlin College (February 7, 1957), as reported in "When MLK came to Oberlin" by Cindy Leise (The Chronicle-Telegram; January 21, 2008)
- Out of one blood God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth. Let us be dissatisfied until that day when nobody will shout 'White Power!' — when nobody will shout 'Black Power!' — but everybody will talk about God's power and human power... The weakness of 'Black Power' is its failure to see that the black man needs the white man and the white man needs the black man. However much we may try to romanticize the slogan, there is no separate black path to power and fulfillment that does not intersect white paths, and there is no separate white path to power and fulfillment, short of social disaster, that does not share that power with black aspirations for freedom and human dignity. We are bound together in a single garment of destiny.
- Martin Luther King, Jr., Address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (16 August 1967)
- Black men and boys are imagined as dangerous, threatening, inherently criminal and superhuman — bigger, faster, stronger and less likely to feel pain. These views have roots in chattel slavery.
Canada is not innocent in the reproduction of this trope. Inspired by southern secessionists, Canada’s first prime minister, John A. Macdonald, claimed the death penalty would deter Black men from assaulting white women. Scholars David Austin and Greg Thomas both demonstrate that in the 1960s and 1970s, the RCMP and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation were obsessed with Black men’s sexual prowess.
In the U.S., anti-lynching campaigner Ida B. Wells and, subsequently, writer and scholar Angela Y. Davis documented how the myth of the Black-man-as-rapist undermined African-Americans’ economic, social and political position.
The idea that the late George Bush Sr. may have defeated Michael Dukakis in 1988 by promoting the Black-man-as-rapist trope shows how deeply this myth is embedded in popular culture. The idea of Black boys and men as super-predators was also expressed by Hillary Clinton in 1996. Clearly, the current culture of aggressive and militarized policing that kills Black people at three times the rate of white people in the U.S. crosses political lines.
- Tamari Kitossa, “How Hollywood’s ‘Alien’ and ‘Predator’ movies reinforce anti-Black racism”, The Conversation, (August 16, 2020)
- James Bond was established by Ian Fleming as a white character, played by white actors. Play 003 or 006, but you cannot be 007. A lot of people say we should be allowed to play everything. Don’t be ridiculous. If I say I want to play JFK, I should be laughed out of the room.
- Yaphet Kotto in "Former 007 villain Yaphet Kotto says James Bond cannot be black" by Ben Child, The Guardian, (8 April 2015).
- 1968 would be the year in which "Negroes" became "blacks." In 1965, Stokely Carmichael, an organizer for the remarkably energetic and creative civil rights group the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, invented the name Black Panthers, soon followed by the phrase Black Power. At the time black, in this sense, was a rarely used poetic turn of phrase. The word started out in 1968 as a term for black militants, and by the end of the year it became the preferred term for the people. Negro became a pejorative applied to those who would not stand up for themselves.
- Mark Kurlansky, 1968: The Year that Rocked the World (2004), p. 6, ISBN 0-345-45581-9
- Carney lost a lot of blood and nearly lost his life, but not once did he allow the flag to touch the ground. His heroics inspired other soldiers that day and were crucial to the North securing victory at Fort Wagner. Carney was promoted to the rank of sergeant for his actions. For his bravery, Carney was awarded the Medal of Honor on May 23, 1900.
- Katie Lange, DoD News, Defense Media Activity, February 7, 2017, Meet Sgt. William Carney: The first African-American Medal of Honor recipient, US Army official website
- Young black kids didn't grow up wanting to be a pimp or a stripper like they do now. You might think I'm making generalizations, but I don't think I am. That's how serious this stuff is. When I was young, cats going to college got as much (love) as the ones who could rap or play ball.
- Spike Lee, Middle Tennessee State University's Alumni Memorial Gym speech in "Spike urges a smarter kind of cool" by Kate Howard, Tennessean.com, (November 3, 2005); as quoted in The Free Radical.
- These artists talk about 'ho this, bitch this, skank this' and all the other stuff. They're talking about all our mothers, all our sisters. They're talking about their own mothers, grandmothers. You have to have knowledge of self and knowledge of history. Because if you had that you would not use that terminology. You would not even be in that mindset. And we're in a time when young black boys and girls want to be pimps and strippers, because that is what they see. . . . Something is definitely wrong.
- Spike Lee, Ryerson University speech in "Spike Lee derides gangsta rap lyrics in T.O. speech" by CTV.ca (Canadian Press), (March 15, 2005); as quoted in The Free Radical.
- I want every man to have the chance, and I believe a black man is entitled to it, in which he can better his condition, when he may look forward and hope to be a hired laborer this year and the next, work for himself afterward, and finally to hire men to work for him! That is the true system.
- Now, if there is anyone dissatisfied with the fact, that there is a whole race of human beings, with the rights of human beings, created with a skin not colored like our own, let him go mouth the heavens, and mutter his blasphemies in the ear of the God that made us all. Tell him that he had no business to make human beings with a black skin. I repeat, I feel no responsibility for this fact. But, inasmuch as it has pleased God to make them human beings, I am bound to regard them as such. Instead of chattering your gibberish in my ear bout negro equality, go look the son of God in the face and reproach him for favoring negro equality because he poured out his blood for the most abject and despised of the human family. Go settle this matter with the God who created and the Christ who redeemed.
- Owen Lovejoy, speech to the United States Congress (February 1859), as quoted in His Brother's Blood: Speeches and Writings, 1838–64 (2004), edited by William Frederick Moore and Jane Ann Moore, p. 177
- It’s odd that considering all the black ink that goes into making the comics section (and color on Sundays) that you rarely see any black faces on that page. Well, maybe it’s not so odd after all, considering the makeup of most newsrooms in our country. It is even more stunning when you consider that in many of our large cities like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago where the white population is barely a third of the overall citizenry, the comics pages seem to be one of the last vestiges of the belief that white faces are just…well, you know…so much more happy and friendly and funny!
Of course, the real funnies are on the front pages of most papers these days. That’s where you can see a lot of black faces. The media loves to cover black people on the front page. After all, when you live in a society that will lock up 30 percent of all black men at some time in their lives and send more of them to prison than to college, chances are a fair number of those black faces will end up in the newspaper.
Oops, there I go playing the race card. You see, in America these days, we aren’t supposed to talk about race. We have been told to pretend that things have gotten better, that the old days of segregation and cross burnings are long gone, and that no one needs to talk about race again because, hey, we fixed that problem.
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, the “whites only” signs are down, but they have just been replaced by invisible ones that, if you are black, you see hanging in front of the home loan department of the local bank, across the entrance of the ritzy suburban or on the doors of the U.S. Senate (100 percent Caucasian and going strong!)
- Michael Moore, foreword to "The Boondocks Treasury: a Right to be Hostile" by Aaron McGruder, (2003).
- Be confident in your blackness!
- Barack Obama, address at Howard University (May 2016), as quoted in "Obama's full remarks at Howard University commencement ceremony", Politico (7 May 2016)
- Think about it: if a quarter of Medical residency think that black people have thicker skin and nurses are being told that they think suffering is inevitable, that might lead to black people’s pain being treated differently.
- John Oliver, Last Week Tonight, (August 18, 2019); as qtd. in Adrian Horton, “John Oliver: bias in medical care is a 'discussion that we need to have'“, The Guardian, (19 Aug 2019).
- When it comes to heroes of color in comic books such as Miles Morales, Semper's fine with it. But what he really cares more about is giving black creators more attention. "Let them create what they want to," he says. "It doesn't necessarily mean having a black face behind the mask, which is great. But let's instead turn to a black creator and say, 'What do you want to make?' Black creators matter, and that's the thing that I think is more important."
- John Semper in "SPIDER-MAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES PAVED THE WAY FOR INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE AND THE MCU" by Charles Moss, Syfy.com, (Dec 26, 2018).
- Dealt with a best friend getting killed. It was two 35-year-old black men. Wasn't no police officer involved, wasn't anybody else involved, and I didn't hear anybody shouting 'black lives matter' then. And I think that's the point we need to get to is that we need to deal with our own internal issues before we move forward and start pointing fingers and start attacking other people. We need to solidify ourselves as people and deal with our issues, because I think as long as we have black-on-black crime and, you know, one black man killing another. If black lives matter, then it should matter all the time. You should never let somebody get killed. That's somebody's son, That's somebody's brother; that's somebody's friend. So you should always keep that in mind.
- Richard Sherman, press conference (16 September 2015), as quoted in "Video: Richard Sherman speaks passionately on Black Lives Matter" (16 September 2015), by Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, Seattle, Washington.
- The real tragedy is that there are some ignorant brothers out here. That's why I'm not on this all-white or all-black shit. I'm on this all-real or all fake shit with people, whatever color you are... [E]very 'brother' ain't a brother. They will do you. So just because it's black, don't mean it's cool; and just because it's white don't mean it's evil.
- Tupac Shakur, from an interview, as quoted in Tupac: Resurrection (2003)
- The failure to capitalize Black when it is synonymous with African American is a matter of unintended racism, to put the best possible face on it.
- Robert S. Wachal, "The Capitalization of Black and Native American," American Speech, vol. 75, no. 4 (Winter 2000), pp. 364–65. Quoted in African American Philosophers and Philosophy: An Introduction to the History, Concepts and Contemporary Issues (2019) by Stephen Ferguson II and John McClendon III, p. 6, Bloomsbury Publishing.
- Fifty years ago this month, Griffin published a slim volume about his travels as a “black man.” He expected it to be “an obscure work of interest primarily to sociologists,” but Black Like Me, which told white Americans what they had long refused to believe, sold ten million copies and became a modern classic.
Black Like Me disabused the idea that minorities were acting out of paranoia,” says Gerald Early, a black scholar at Washington University and editor of Lure and Loathing: Essays on Race, Identity, and the Ambivalence of Assimilation. “There was this idea that black people said certain things about racism, and one rather expected them to say these things. Griffin revealed that what they were saying was true.
It took someone from outside coming in to do that. And what he went through gave the book a remarkable sincerity.” A half century after its publication, Black Like Me retains its raw power. Still assigned in many high schools, it is condensed in online outlines and video reviews on YouTube.
- We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.
- Malcolm X Interview (January 1965?); quoted in By Any Means Necessary