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13 Inspirational Quotes From Black Women Writers

13 Inspirational Quotes From Black Women Writers

Celebrate Black History Month during the month of February with these inspirational quotes from Black women writers. These inspirational quotes from Black women writers will bring you confidence and motivation all year-long. From Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, and Zora Neale Hurston, to Shonda Rhimes, Roxane Gay, and Zadie Smith, these wise words by Black women authors originate from their world-renowned novels, essay collections, poems, and memoirs.

1. Shonda Rhimes

“There is no list of rules. There is one rule. The rule is: there are no rules. Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be. Being traditional is not traditional anymore. It’s funny that we still think of it that way. Normalize your lives, people. You don’t want a baby? Don’t have one. I don’t want to get married? I won’t. You want to live alone? Enjoy it. You want to love someone? Love someone. Don’t apologize. Don’t explain. Don’t ever feel less than. When you feel the need to apologize or explain who you are, it means the voice in your head is telling you the wrong story. Wipe the slate clean. And rewrite it. No fairy tales. Be your own narrator. And go for a happy ending. One foot in front of the other. You will make it.”

―Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

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2. Octavia Butler

“In order to rise

From its own ashes

A phoenix

First Must Burn.”

―Octavia Butler, Parable of the Talents

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3. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Some people ask: ‘Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?’ Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.”

―Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

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4. Maya Angelou

“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”

―Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

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Related: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Maya Angelou

5. bell hooks

“All too often women believe it is a sign of commitment, an expression of love, to endure unkindness or cruelty, to forgive and forget. In actuality, when we love rightly we know that the healthy, loving response to cruelty and abuse is putting ourselves out of harm’s way.”

―bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions

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6. Ntozake Shange

“Where there is a woman there is magic. If there is a moon falling from her mouth, she is a woman who knows her magic, who can share or not share her powers. A woman with a moon falling from her mouth, roses between her legs and tiaras of Spanish moss, this woman is a consort of the spirits.”

―Ntozake Shange, Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo

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7. Toni Morrison

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

―Toni Morrison, Beloved

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8. Roxane Gay

“I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I’m right. I am just trying—trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world, trying to make some noise with my writing while also being myself.”

―Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist

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9. Zadie Smith

“Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful… and decide what you want and need and must do. It’s a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that’s the deal: you have to live; you can’t live by slogans, dead ideas, clichés, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It’s the easy way out.”

―Zadie Smith, On Beauty

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10. Zora Neale Hurston

“Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It is beyond me.”

―Zora Neale Hurston, How It Feels To Be Colored Me

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Related: Celebrate Black History Month With Acclaimed Writers At Le Tournon In Paris

11. Issa Rae


“You guys know about vampires? . . . You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, “Yo is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist?” And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.”

―Issa Rae, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl

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12. Jacqueline Woodson

“Even the silence

has a story to tell you.

Just listen. Listen.”

―Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming

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13. Alice Walker

“I am an expression of the divine, just like a peach is, just like a fish is. I have a right to be this way…I can’t apologize for that, nor can I change it, nor do I want to… We will never have to be other than who we are in order to be successful…We realize that we are as ourselves unlimited and our experiences valid. It is for the rest of the world to recognize this, if they choose.”

―Alice Walker, The Color Purple

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