First Culture

Here Are 40 0f Our Favorite Quotes From Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie As She Turns 40

Here Are 40 0f Our Favorite Quotes From Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie As She Turns 40

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

We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man.

“The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.”

“Show a people as one thing, only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.”

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

“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.”

“This was love: a string of coincidences that gathered significance and became miracles.”

“I often make the mistake of thinking that something that is obvious to me is obvious to everyone else.”

“Our histories cling to us. We are shaped by where we come from.”

“We do not just risk repeating history if we sweep it under the carpet, we also risk being myopic about our present.”

“To choose to write is to reject silence.”

Of course I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.”

“If I were not African, I wonder whether it would be clear to me that Africa is a place where the people do not need limp gifts of fish but sturdy fishing rods and fair access to the pond. I wonder whether I would realize that while African nations have a failure of leadership, they also have dynamic people with agency and voices.”

“Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.”

“…my point is that the only authentic identity for the African is the tribe…I am Nigerian because a white man created Nigeria and gave me that identity. I am black because the white man constructed black to be as different as possible from his white. But I was Igbo before the white man came.”

“I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness and my femininity. And I want to be respected in all of my femaleness because I deserve to be.”
“Then she wished, more rationally, that she could love him without needing him. Need gave him power without his trying; need was the choicelessness she often felt around him.”
“There are some things that are so unforgivable that they make other things easily forgivable.”
“She rested her head against his and felt, for the first time, what she would often feel with him: a self-affection. He made her like herself.”
“Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage.”
“We teach girls shame. “Close your legs. Cover yourself.” We make them feel as though being born female they’re already guilty of something. And so, girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. They grow up to be women who silence themselves. They grow up to be women who cannot say what they truly think. And they grow up — and this is the worst thing we do to girls — they grow up to be women who have turned pretense into an art form.”
“We did that often, asking each other questions whose answers we already knew. Perhaps it was so that we would not ask the other questions, the ones whose answers we did not want to know.”

“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.”


“That her relationship with him was like being content in a house but always sitting by the window and looking out”
“Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally. Not “if only.” Not “as long as.” I matter equally. Full stop.”
“…there was cement in her soul. It had been there for a while, an early morning disease of fatigue, shapeless desires, brief imaginary glints of other lives she could be living, that over the months melded into a piercing homesickness.”
“And it’s wrong of you to think that love leaves room for nothing else. It’s possible to love something and still condescend to it.”
“You Americans, always peering under people’s beds to look for communism.”
“Being defiant can be a good thing sometimes,” Aunty Ifeoma said. “Defiance is like marijuana – it is not a bad thing when it is used right.”
“Teach her that the idea of ‘gender roles’ is absolute nonsense. Do not ever tell her that she should or should not do something because she is a girl. ‘Because you are a girl’ is never reason for anything.
Ever.”
“But by far the worst thing we do to males—by making them feel they have to be hard—is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The harder a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is.”
“The knowledge of cooking does not come pre-installed in a vagina.”
“…he did not want me to seek the whys, because there are some things that happen for which we can formulate no whys, for which whys simply do not exist and, perhaps, are not necessary.”
“And her joy would become a restless thing, flapping its wings inside her, as though looking for an opening to fly away.”
“There was something immodest about her modesty: it announced itself.”
“Why were we raised to speak in low tones about periods? To be filled with shame if our menstrual blood happened to stain our skirt? Periods are nothing to be ashamed of. Periods are normal and natural, and the human species would not be here if periods did not exist. I remember a man who said a period was like shit. Well, sacred shit, I told him, because you wouldn’t be here if periods didn’t happen.”
“We never actively remember death,’ Odenigbo said. The reason we live as we do is because we do not remember that we will die. We will all die.”
“If the sun refuses to rise we will make it rise”
“She liked that he wore their relationship so boldly, like a brightly colored shirt.”
“It was the exaggerated gratitude that came with immigrant insecurity.”
END
References: Good Reads
Featured Image: Sunday Best/ New York Times
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Here Are 40 0f Our Favorite Quotes From Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie As She Turns 40

by First Culture time to read: 5 min
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