We do not have to be ashamed of what we are. As sentient beings we have wonderful backgrounds. These backgrounds may not be particularly enlightened or peaceful or intelligent. Nevertheless, we have soil good enough to cultivate; we can plant anything in it.
And then it occurs to me. They are frightened. In me, they see their own daughters, just as ignorant, just as unmindful of all the truths and hopes they have brought to America. They see daughters who grow impatient when their mothers talk in Chinese, who think they are stupid when they explain things in fractured English. They see that joy and luck do not mean the same to their daughters, that to these closed American-born minds joy luck is not a word, it does not exist. They see daughters who will bear grandchildren born without any connecting hope passed from generation to generation.
You are one woman in an endless line of women who were chosen to love more passionately than others, be committed to justice more fervently than others, and seek our Maker’s higher expressions more reflectively than others.
Abraham Lincoln quoted the Scriptures in an 1858 speech to the Illinois Republican Convention. He said, “ A house divided against itself cannot stand.” That, I fear, is where diversity leads. If by that term we refer to love and tolerance for peoples who are different from one another, it has great validity for us. But if by diversity we mean that all of us have been given reason to resent one another. Having no common values, heritage, commitment, or hope, then we are a nation in serious trouble.
No matter what a person does to cover up and conceal themselves, when we write and lose control, I can spot a person from Alabama, Florida, South Carolina a mile away even if they make no exact reference to location. Their words are lush like the land they come from, filled with nine aunties, people named Bubba. There is something extravagant and wild about what they have to say — snakes on the roof of a car, swamps, a delta, sweat, the smell of sea, buzz of an air conditioner, Coca-Cola — something fertile, with a hidden danger or shame, thick like the humidity, unspoken yet ever-present. Often when a southerner reads, the members of the class look at each other, and you can hear them thinking, gee, I can't write like that. The power and force of the land is heard in the piece. These southerners know the names of what shrubs hang over what creek, what dogwood flowers bloom what color, what kind of soil is under their feet. I tease the class, Pay no mind. It's the southern writing gene. The rest of us have to toil away.
Many races as well as cultural influences of men of all kinds have mixed into any man. To select, for approbation the peculiar elements that come from some supposedly Jewish heredity is to open the door to all kinds of nonsense on racial theory.
Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations. Books, the oldest and the best, stand naturally and rightfully on the shelves of every cottage. They have no cause of their own to plead, but while they enlighten and sustain the reader his common sense will not refuse them. Their authors are a natural and irresistible aristocracy in every society, and, more than kings or emperors, exert an influence on mankind.
Knowledge is not a heritage to be passed on so much as it is something to be created and continually increased
A reformer exhorted children that they would succeed where he and his colleagues had failed with the charge: Live for that better day.
But let us not forget that human love and compassion are equally deeply rooted in our primate heritage, and in this sphere too our sensibilities are of a higher order of magnitude than those of chimpanzees.
Blood memory is described as our ancestral (genetic) connection to our language, songs, spirituality, and teachings. It is the good feeling that we experience when we are near these things.
Bless all the women of this world who nurture our heritage while too many man rush off to kill for ideals that might now be deeply and personally held, but will often be viewed as repugnant by later generations.
It was truer to my father to let the songs he'd sung die with him, little by little, averse at a time. How could these art-mongers constantly ignore the mortality of beauty, a pleonasm if ever I'd heard one?
Gen. de Gaulle is only concerned about history, and no jury can dictate the judgment of history. Georges Pompidou
My son will wear the title well, the Duke thought, and realized with a sudden chill that this was another death thought.
If soldiering did not interest him, the soldiers themselves were another matter. He loved to sit with the men and draw out their first-hand stories of past campaigns.
People say you're born innocent, but it's not true. You inherit all kinds of things that you can do nothing about. You inherit your identity, your history, like a birthmark that you can't wash off. ... We are born with our heads turned back, but my mother says we have to face into the future now. You have to earn your own innocence, she says. You have to grow up and become innocent.
Let us save what remains: not by vaults and locks which fence them from the public eye and use in consigning them to the waste of time, but by such a multiplication of copies, as shall place them beyond the reach of accident.
Before the man lost his sight, he read this story in a magazine: a group of explorers came upon a community of parrots speaking the language of a society that had been wiped out in a recent catastrophe. Astonished by their discovery, they put the parrots in cages and sent them home so that linguists could record what remained of the lost language. But the parrots, already traumatized by the devastation they had recently witnessed, died on the way.The man feels a great fraternity with those birds. He feels he carries, like them, a shredded inheritance, and he is too concussed to pass anything on.
Your past's a private matter, sweetheart. You just keep it locked up in xbox where it can't hurt anyone.
Our children are an integral component of our stories as we are of theirs and, therefore, each child acts as the knighted messengers to carry their forebears’ stories into the future. To deprive our children of the narrative cells regarding the formation of the ozone layer that rims the atmosphere of our ancestors’ saga and parental determination of selfhood is to deny them of the sacred right to claim the sanctity of their heritage. Accordingly, all wrinkled brow natives are chargeable with the sacrosanct obligation of telling their kith and kin the memorable story of the scenic days they spent as children of nature splashing about in their naked innocence in the brook of infinite time and space. We must scrupulous document our family’s history as well as scrawl out our personal story.
Thus she returned to the theme of ‘before,’ but in a different way than she had at first. She said that we didn’t know anything, either as children or now, that we were therefore not in a position to understand anything, that everything in the neighborhood, every stone or piece of wood, everything, anything you could name, was already there before us, but we had grown up without realizing it, without ever even thinking about it. Not just us. Her father pretended that there had been nothing before. Her mother did the same, my mother, my father, even Rino… <…> They didn’t know anything, they wouldn’t talk about anything. Not Fascism, not the king. No injustice, no oppression, no exploitation … And they thought that what had happened before was past and, in order to live quietly, they placed a stone on top of it, and so, without knowing it, they continued it, they were immersed in the things of before, and we kept them inside us, too.
When people want to win they will go to desperate extremes. However, anyone that has already won in life has come to the conclusion that there is no game. There is nothing but learning in this life and it is the only thing we take with us to the grave—knowledge. If you only understood that concept then your heart wouldn’t break so bad. Jealousy or revenge wouldn’t be your ambition. Stepping on others to raise yourself up wouldn’t be a goal. Competition would be left on the playing field, and your freedom from what other people think about you would light the pathway out of hell.
Heritage was everything: it was a golden skeleton key, gleaming with power, able to get the wielder through any number of locked doors; it was the christening of the marriage bed with virgin blood on snow-white sheets; it was the benediction of a pristine pedigree, refined through ages of selective breeding and the occasional mercy culling.It was life, and death, and all that spanned between.It was his birthright.
Think of all the love poured into him. Think of the tuitions for Montessori and music lessons. Think of the gasoline expended, the treads worn carting him to football games, basketball tournaments, and Little League. Think of the time spent regulating sleepovers. Think of the surprise birthday parties, the daycare, and the reference checks on babysitters. Think of World Book and Childcraft. Think of checks written for family photos. Think of credit cards charged for vacations. Think of soccer balls, science kits, chemistry sets, racetracks, and model trains. Think of all the embraces, all the private jokes, customs, greetings, names, dreams, all the shared knowledge and capacity of a black family injected into that vessel of flesh and bone. And think of how that vessel was taken, shattered on the concrete, and all its holy contents, all that had gone into him, sent flowing back to the earth. Think of your mother, who had no father. And your grandmother, who was abandoned by her father. And your grandfather, who was left behind by his father. And think of how Prince's daughter was now drafted into those solemn ranks and deprived of her birthright — that vessel which was her father, which brimmed with twenty-five years of love and was the investment of her grandparents and was to be her legacy.
Bloodlines and last names didn't make a man extraordinary — the extraordinary existed in what we did in life, not in who we were.