1. Toni Morrison on racism:

“If you can only be tall because somebody’s on their knees, you have a serious problem.”

2. From Beloved:

“You are your best thing.”

3. From The Bluest Eye:

“Love is never any better than the lover. “

4. On life and death:

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

5. From Jazz:

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

6. On writing:

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

7. On moments:

“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.”

8. From Jazz:

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

9. On relationships:

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

10. From Song of Solomon:

“Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”

11. On racism:

“There is no such thing as race. None. There is just a human race — scientifically, anthropologically. Racism is a construct, a social construct… it has a social function, racism.”

12. On her writing:

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

13. On working:

“I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”

14. On lightness:

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

15. From Beloved:

“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.”

16. From Beloved:

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

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