10 Quotes from Americanah

The next Bushwick event, Original Music Inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah , is happening this Friday at Elliott Bay Book Co. This is a powerful novel by an insightful author who’s adept at crafting layers of story. It’s difficult to find a page that lacks an impacting passage, but we’ve narrowed it down to ten thought-provoking quotes. Take a look!

“The only reason you say that race was not an issue is because you wish it was not.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“If you’re telling a non-black person about something racist that happened to you, make sure you are not bitter. Don’t complain. Be forgiving. If possible, make it funny. Most of all, do not be angry. Black people are not supposed to be angry about racism. Otherwise you get no sympathy. This applies only for white liberals, by the way. Don’t even bother telling a white conservative about anything racist that happened to you. Because the conservative will tell you that YOU are the real racist and your mouth will hang open in confusion.” -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Racism should never have happened and so you don’t get a cookie for reducing it.” -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Race doesn’t really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don’t have that choice.” -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Later, she said, ‘I have to take my braids out for my interviews and relax my hair. Kemi told me that I shouldn’t wear braids to the interview. If you have braids, they will think you are unprofessional.'” -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask them anyway. It’s easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here’s to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding.” -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“The point of diversity workshops, or multicultural talks, was not to inspire any real change but to leave people feeling good about themselves. They did not want the content of her ideas; they merely wanted the gesture of her presence. They had not read her blog but they had heard that she was a “leading blogger” about race.” -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Maybe it’s time to just scrap the word ‘racist.’ Find something new. Like Racial Disorder Syndrome. And we could have different categories for sufferers of this syndrome: mild, medium, and acute.” -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“As they walked out of the store, Ifemelu said, “I was waiting for her to ask ‘Was it the one with two eyes or the one with two legs?’ Why didn’t she just ask ‘Was it the black girl or the white girl?'” Ginika laughed. “Because this is America. You’re supposed to pretend that you don’t notice certain things.”” -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Finally, don’t put on a Let’s Be Fair tone and say “But black people are racist too.” Because of course we’re all prejudiced (I can’t even stand some of my blood relatives, grasping, selfish folks), but racism is about the power of a group and in America it’s white folks who have that power. How? Well, white folks don’t get treated like shit in upper-class African-American communities and white folks don’t get denied bank loans or mortgages precisely because they are white and black juries don’t give white criminals worse sentences than black criminals for the same crime and black police officers don’t stop white folk for driving while white and black companies don’t choose not to hire somebody because their name sounds white and black teachers don’t tell white kids that they’re not smart enough to be doctors and black politicians don’t try some tricks to reduce the voting power of white folks through gerrymandering and advertising agencies don’t say they can’t use white models to advertise glamorous products because they are not considered “aspirational” by the “mainstream.”” -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

As you’ve been reading Americanah, which passages and characters have stuck out to you? Leave us a comment and let us know.