Margo Jefferson Quotes
“So I won’t trap myself into quantifying which matters more, race, or gender, or class. Race, gender, and class are basic elements of one’s living. Basic as utensils and clothing; always in use; always needing repairs and updates. Basic as body and breath, justice and reason, passion and imagination. So the question isn’t “Which matters most?,” it’s “How does each matter?” Gender, race, class; class, race, gender—your three in one and one in three.”
“Privilege is provisional. Privilege can be denied, withheld, offered grudgingly and summarily withdrawn. Entitlement is impervious to the kinds of verbs that modify privilege. Our people have had to work, scrape for privilege, gobble it down when those who would snatch it away weren’t looking. Keep a close watch.”
“I call it Negroland because I still find “Negro” a word of wonders, glorious and terrible. A word for runaway slave posters and civil rights proclamations; for social constructs and street corner flaunts. A tonal-language word whose meaning shifts as setting and context shift, as history twists, lurches, advances, and stagnates. As capital letters appear to enhance its dignity; as other nomenclatures”
“The human psyche is pathetic," I say–I declaim–to my psychopharmacologist.
"It's what we have, Miss Jefferson," he replies, "it's what we have."
And what I have is what I take to my psychotherapist each week. What I have is what we make together, each supplying the material she knows best.
There are days when I still want to dismantle this constructed self of mine. You did it so badly, I think. You lost so much time. And then I tell myself, so what?
“- I’ve never been so sick of RACE in my life.
Every group with its rights and grievances, its mathematically precise litany of what has been denied, what should have been granted long ago, what must be restored and redressed. Even everyday WASPS compete now. Because their sense of being dispossessed, displaced, bullied, has in an amazingly short time become as acute, as outraged, as righteous as that of the groups they managed and mangled for so long.
- This is my dream. Eradicate them all. Then fix your hair, and put your hands in your muff as your heels go clip clip clip across the pavement.
- May I help you, ma’am?
- Thank your, sir, I’ve just murdered quite a few people and I need a taxi.”
“You are a single woman; you intend to remain one. You’ve acquired enough sexual experience to feel you belong to your times. You do not have children; you never intended to. Sustained romantic intensities have not been for you. Your explanation (not an untrue one,though not quite sufficient) is that you have let yourself be shaped by so many conventions, expectations, and requirements (institution’s, people’s), by so much dread of disapproval, that the discipline of solitude—severe solitude—has been required to give you the sense of an independent selfhood. The intensities of friendship suit you better. Friendship’s choreography is for multiple partners: for varied groups and surprisingly sustained duets.”
“Lawrence Otis Graham is a sprightly gossip in the Clamorgan mode: he writes largely for white magazines and is considered something of an upstart by old-line blacks. His 1999 Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class is a cross-country social whirl of interviews and personal anecdotes. Graham chronicles our old ways, and makes sure to certify their current value with the status symbols of integration; “exclusive” and “prestigious” schools and neighborhoods; “impeccable,” even “inspiring” professional credentials; friendships”