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Outsiders

  • I'm fundamentally, I think, an outsider. I do my best work and feel most braced with my back to the wall. It's an odd feeling though, writing aginst the current: difficult entirely to disregard the current. Yet of course I shall.

  • Safety lies in catering to the in-group. We are not all brave. All I would ask of writers who find it hard to question the universal validity of their personal opinions and affiliations is that they consider this: Every group we belong to — by gender, sex, race, religion, age — is an in-group, surrounded by an immense out-group, living next door and all over the world, who will be alive as far into the future as humanity has a future. That out-group is called other people. It is for them that we write.

  • Minority art, vernacular art, is marginal art. Only on the margins does growth occur.

  • [A pariah is] something like a martyr with more suffering and less class.

  • ... all outcast peoples struggle to be recognized as individuals. The damage of oppression is that it robs you of your individuality. You're just a faggot. Or whatever — fill in the blank. Everything you do is seen through the prism of your gayness or your womanness or your blackness by some people.

  • When you are a member of an out-group, and you challenge others with whom you share this outsider position to examine some aspect of their lives that distorts differences between you, then there can be a great deal of pain.

    • Audre Lorde,
    • in Claudia Tate, ed., Black Women Writers at Work ()
  • There is in every country an antipathy to the foreigner ...

  • It frequently happens that when the dominant culture loses a vision or actively suppresses it, this lost knowledge arises again among those excluded from that culture.

  • Be nobody's darling; / Be an outcast. / Qualified to live / Among your dead.

    • Alice Walker,
    • "Be Nobody's Darling," Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems ()
  • Never since the dawn of human history, as far as I can find out, did people long settled in any region give a friendly welcome to newcomers. One of the disagreeable traits of our human nature seems to be to dislike on sight people who come later than the first settlers.

  • It is as Gertrude used to say unfamiliarity that breeds contempt.

    • Alice B. Toklas,
    • 1949, in Edward Burns, ed,. Staying On Alone: Letters of Alice B. Toklas ()
  • Our sense of safety depends on predictability, so anything living outside the usual rules we suspect to be an outlaw, a ghoul.

  • You see, society decides which of its segments are going to be outside its borders. Society says, 'These are the legitimate channels to my rewards. They are closed to you forever.' So then the outlawed segments must seek rewards through illegitimate channels. In other words, once my Great White Father declared me illegitimate, I had to be a bastard.

  • Idealization of a group is a natural consequence of separation from the group; in other words, it is a by-product of alienation.

  • We were part of the first wave of Cubans in Miami. When my mother first went to look for an apartment, it was a case of 'No children, no pets, no Cubans.'

  • In every society the artist or writer remains an outsider ...

  • I learned early in life not to judge others. We outcasts are very happy and content to leave that job to our social superiors.

    • Ethel Waters,
    • in Ethel Waters with Charles Samuels, His Eye Is on the Sparrow ()
  • ... real change can come about only from the margins of power.

  • There is all the difference in the world between departure from recognized rules by one who has learned to obey them, and neglect of them through want of training or want of skill or want of understanding. Before you can be eccentric you must know where the circle is.

  • Someone had written: 'Grils' Rights Now.' Someone else had crossed out 'Grils' and inserted 'Girls.' Below that, in another hand, was a plaintive cry: 'What about us Grils?'

  • I was like a cat always climbing the wrong tree.

  • He was an outsider who lived by his ability to manipulate the inside.

  • I got born in the wrong family ...

  • Alienation produces eccentrics or revolutionaries.

  • I felt permanently exiled from 'normality.' Whether imposed by self or society, this outsider status — and not the disability itself — constitutes the most daunting barrier for most people with physical impairments, because it, even more than flights of steps or elevators without braille, prevents them from participating fully in the ordinary world, where most of life's satisfactions dwell.

  • The more closed the circle, the more difficult it is for 'outsiders' to break in. Their very difficulty in entering may be taken as a sign of incompetence, a sign that the insiders were right to close their ranks.

  • ... it is easy to slip into a parallel universe. There are so many of them: worlds of the insane, the criminal, the crippled, the dying, perhaps of the dead as well. These worlds exist alongside this world and resemble it, but are not in it.

  • We are sheep with no straight / and narrow; / We are sheep with no meadow. / We are sheep who take the / dangerous pathway thru / the mountain range / to get to the other side of / our soul. / We are the black sheep of / the family / Called Black Sheep folk.

    • Karen Finley,
    • "The Black Sheep, We Keep Our Victims Ready," public poem cast in bronze ()
  • Being a minority in both caste and class, we moved about anyway on the hem of life, struggling to consolidate our weaknesses and hang on, or to creep singly up into the major folds of the garment.

  • There is no place on earth, no day or night, no hour or minute, when one is not a Jew or a woman.

    • Andrea Dworkin,
    • "First Love," in Julia Wolf Mazow, ed., The Woman Who Lost Her Names ()
  • I was strong and tough enough and charming. / How else is a fat Jew lesbian poet gonna get by? / Listening to the radio, staying home, staying alone, like / they mean us to. / Who means you to be left out? / Who don't?

    • Elana Dykewomon,
    • "Traveling Fat," in Christian McEwen and Sue O'Sullivan, eds., Out the Other Side ()
  • I'm a stranger wherever I go, but I'm happy.

  • Living in a state of psychic unrest, in a Borderland, is what makes poets write and artists create.

  • Living on borders and in margins, keeping intact one's shifting and multiple identity and integrity, is like trying to swim in a new element, an 'alien' element.

  • ... if threatened by law that either they welcome the outsiders into their midst or be punished for failure to do so, the insiders can make their system work so as to avoid either outcome entirely. ... saying that a person cannot be kept out doesn't ensure that that person can get in, and more important, stay in.

    • Margaret Hennig,
    • in Margaret Hennig and Anne Jardim, The Managerial Woman ()
  • Those in the margins are always trying to get to the center, and those at the center, frequently in the name of tradition, are trying to keep the margins at a distance.

  • My theory is that everyone, at one time or another, has been at the fringe of society in some way: an outcast in high school, a stranger in a foreign country, the best at something, the worst at something, the one who's different. Being an outsider is the one thing we all have in common.

  • When you're an outsider, you don't have loyalties to anyone, so you can be cruelly honest if need be. The more you get inside, the more you are involved in polite networks of professional coercion that make people less honest.

    • Molly Crabapple,
    • in Rachel Luban, "The Zelig of Occupy," In These Times ()
  • Being an Other, in America, teaches you to imagine what can't imagine you.