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Toni Cade Bambara

  • Not all speed is movement.

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • "On the Issue of Roles," in Toni Cade Bambara, ed., The Black Woman: An Anthology ()
  • Revolution begins with the self, in the self.

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • "On the Issue of Roles," in Toni Cade Bambara, ed., The Black Woman: An Anthology ()
  • ... old folks is the nation.

  • When you dream, you dialogue with aspects of yourself that normally are not with you in the daytime and you discover that you know a great deal more than you thought you did.

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • in Roseann P. Bell, Bettye J. Parker, and Beverly Guy-Sheftall, eds., Sturdy Black Bridges ()
  • The story is a piece of work. The novel is a way of life.

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • in Janet Sternburg, ed., The Writer on Her Work, vol. 1 ()
  • Words are to be taken seriously. I try to take seriously acts of language. Words set things in motion. I've seen them doing it. Words set up atmospheres, electrical fields, charges.

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • in Janet Sternburg, ed., The Writer on Her Work, vol. 1 ()
  • One monkey don't stop no show. Not one, not six. The struggle continues.

  • What is happening to the daughters of the yam? Seem like they just don't know how to draw up the powers from the deep like before. Not full sunned and sweet anymore.

  • Take away the miseries and you take away some folks' reason for living. Their conversation piece anyway.

  • The dream is real, my friends. The failure to realize it is the only unreality.

  • For people sometimes believed that it was safer to live with complaints, was necessary to cooperate with grief, was all right to become an accomplice in self-ambush. ... Took heart to flat out decide to be well and stride into the future sane and whole.

  • And what is religion, you might ask. It's a technology of living.

  • Wasn't that what happened to Lot's Wife? A loyalty to old things, a fear of the new, a fear to change, to look ahead?

  • His body's taken on the weight his mind still refuses to accept.

  • The most effective way to do it, is to do it.

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • "In Search of the Mother Tongue," in First World Journal ()
  • She never wanted these pictures called up on some future hot, dry day in some other place. She squinted, closed her eyes even, 'less the pictures cling to her eyes, store in the brain, to roll out later and crush her future with the weight of this place and its troubles.

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • "The Organizer's Wife," The Sea Birds Are Still Alive ()
  • What can defeat greed, technological superiority, and legal lawlessness ... is discipline, consciousness, and unity.

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • "The Organizer's Wife," The Sea Birds Are Still Alive ()
  • When we ever invited the beast to dinner he didn't come in and swipe the napkins and start taking notes on the tablecloth 'bout how to take over the whole house?

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • "The Organizer's Wife," The Sea Birds Are Still Alive ()
  • It's too cold to think warmly. Which gives me insight into the European. Where else would colonialism, slavery, capitalism come from except out of the icebox.

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • "Broken Field Running," The Sea Birds Are Still Alive ()
  • Medication without explanation is obscene.

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • "Christmas Eve at Johnson's Drugs N Goods," The Sea Birds Are Still Alive ()
  • But I struggled with Mac, Debbie's daddy. Talked to his family, his church, AA, hid the bottles, threatened the liquor man, left a good job to play nurse, mistress, kitten, buddy. But then he stopped calling me Dahlin and started calling me Mama. I don't play that. I'm my daughter's mama. So I split.

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • "Medley," The Sea Birds Are Still Alive ()
  • [Advice to young writers:] Read a lot and hit the streets. A writer who doesn't keep up with what's out there ain't gonna be out there.

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • in Claudia Tate, ed., Black Women Writers at Work ()
  • I'll be damned if I want most folk out there to do unto me what they do unto themselves.

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • in Claudia Tate, ed., Black Women Writers at Work ()
  • There are so few truth-speaking traditions in this society in which the myth of 'Western civilization' has claimed the allegiance of so many. We have rarely been encouraged and equipped to appreciate the fact that the truth works, that it releases the Spirit and that it is a joyous thing. We live in a part of the world, for example, that equates criticism with assault, that equates social responsibility with naive idealism, that defines the unrelenting pursuit of knowledge and wisdom as fanaticism.

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • in Claudia Tate, ed., Black Women Writers at Work ()
  • All writers, musicians, artists, choreographers/dancers, etc., work with the stuff of their experiences. It's the translation of it, the conversion of it, the shaping of it that makes for the drama.

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • in Claudia Tate, ed., Black Women Writers at Work ()
  • People have to be given permission to write, and they have to be given space to breathe and stumble. They have to be given time to develop and to reveal what they can do.

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • in Claudia Tate, ed., Black Women Writers at Work ()
  • That is what I work to do: to produce stories that save our lives.

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • in Mari Evans, ed., Black Women Writers (1950-1980) ()
  • There are times ... when any visitor — in person, by phone, by mail — is an intruder, a burglar, a space hogger, an oxygen taker, a chaos maker, a conflict inducer, a mood chaser, and a total drag.

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • in Mari Evans, ed., Black Women Writers (1950-1980) ()
  • She [my mother] gave me permission to wonder, to dawdle, to daydream.

    • Toni Cade Bambara,
    • in Tillie Olsen, Mother to Daughter, Daughter to Mother ()
  • The only proper mask to wear in life is your own damn face.

Toni Cade Bambara, U.S. writer, editor, activist

(1939 - 1995)

Born: Miltona Mirkin Cade.