18 Toni Morrison Quotes to Update Your Reading List

(Last Updated On: March 10, 2021)

If you’re looking for some books to read and have somehow not read anything by Toni Morrison (1931-2019), look no further. Chloe Anthony Wofford Morrison (born Chloe Ardelia Wofford) published her first novel in 1970 (The Bluest Eye). In 1977 she would publish Song of Solomon, bringing her work national recognition in the US. Global recognition would follow shortly afterwards with a Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to her in 1993. Morrison’s work didn’t shy away from racism and race identity in the United States, often putting its consequences in harsh relief. Part of the point is, she’s definitely got some important stuff to say. So here are some good Toni Morrison quotes.

18 Toni Morrison Quotes to Update Your Reading List

On Life & Freedom

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

“As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.”

“At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough.” -Tar Baby

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

“I’m a believer in the power of knowledge and the ferocity of beauty, so from my point of view, your life is already artful—waiting, just waiting, for you to make it art.”

“Make a difference about something other than yourselves.”

On Literature

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

“Everything I’ve ever done, in the writing world, has been to expand articulation, rather than to close it, to open doors, sometimes, not even closing the book — leaving the endings open for reinterpretation, revisitation, a little ambiguity.”

“Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge.”

“The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power.”

“I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.”

On Identity

“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” -Beloved

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

“No one ever talks about the moment you found that you were white. Or the moment you found out you were black. That’s a profound revelation. The minute you find that out, something happens. You have to renegotiate everything.”

“Lonely was much better than alone.” -The Bluest Eye

On America & Race

“I felt very powerfully patriotic when I went to the inauguration of Barack Obama. I felt like a kid.”

“In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.”

“Black people have always been used as a buffer in this country between powers to prevent class war.”

More quotes posts here.