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.
Dear Non-American Black, when you make the choice to come to America, you become black. Stop arguing. Stop saying I’m Jamaican or I’m Ghanaian. America doesn’t care.
The educated ones leave, the ones with the potential to right the wrongs. They leave the weak behind. The tyrants continue to reign because the weak cannot resist. Do you not see that it is a cycle? Who will break that cycle?
You must never behave as if your life belongs to a man. Do you hear me?” Aunty Ifeka said. “Your life belongs to you and you alone.
At some point I was a Happy African Feminist Who Does Not Hate Men and Who Likes to Wear Lip Gloss and High Heels for Herself and Not For Men.
Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.
We have a world full of women who are unable to exhale fully because they have for so long been conditioned to fold themselves into shapes to make themselves likeable.
We do not just risk repeating history if we sweep it under the carpet, we also risk being myopic about our present.
Each time he suggested they get married, she said no. They were too happy, precariously so, and she wanted to guard that bond; she feared that marriage would flatten it into a prosaic partnership.
Marriage can be a good thing, a source of joy, love, and mutual support. But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage, but we don’t teach boys to do the same?
Sometimes she worried that she was too happy. . . And her joy would become a restless thing, flapping its wings inside her, as though looking for an opening to fly away.
If we don’t place the straitjacket of gender roles on young children, we give them space to reach their full potential.
The Tanzanian told her that all fiction was therapy, some sort of therapy, no matter what anybody said.
Because when there is true equality, resentment does not exist.
That a woman claims not to be feminist does not diminish the necessity of feminism. If anything, it makes us see the extent of the problem, the successful reach of patriarchy.
There must be more than male benevolence as the basis for a woman’s well-being.
Teach her to question men who can have empathy for women only if they see them as relational rather than as individual equal humans.
Make dressing a question of taste and attractiveness instead of a question of morality.
The person more qualified to lead is not the physically stronger person. It is the more intelligent, the more knowledgeable, the more creative, more innovative. And there are no hormones for those attributes.
A man who would be intimidated by me is exactly the kind of man I would have no interest in.
We’re all social beings. We internalize ideas from our socialization.
Now 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.
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.
Ifemelu thought about the expression “sweet girl.” Sweet girl meant that, for a long time, Don had molded Ranyinudo into a malleable shape, or that she had allowed him to think he had.
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.
And then we do a much greater disservice to girls, because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males.
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.
All over the world, there are so many magazine articles and books telling women what to do, how to be and not to be, in order to attract or please these men. There are far fewer guides for men about pleasing women.
A man is likely as a woman to be intelligent, innovative and creative. We have evolved. But our ideas of gender have not evolved very much.
If we do something over and over, it becomes normal. If we see the same thing over and over it becomes normal.
I should never call myself a feminist since feminists are women who are unhappy because they cannot find husbands.So I decided to call myself a Happy Feminist.
Each time they ignore me, I feel invisible. I want to tell them that I am just as human as the man, just as worthy of acknowledgement. These are the little things, but sometimes it is the little things that sting the most.
Some people will bring up evolutionary biology and apes, how female apes bow to male apes – that sort of thing. But the point is this: we are not apes. Apes also live in trees and eat earthworms. We do not.
Other men might respond by saying: Okay, this is interesting, but I don’t think like that. I don’t even think about gender. Maybe not. And that is part of the problem. That many men do not actively think about gender or notice gender.
The language of marriage is often a language of ownership, not a language of partnership.
The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we ´should’ be rather than recognizing how we are.
A book did not qualify as literature unless it had polysyllabic words and incomprehensible passages.
Don’t see it as forgiving him. See it as allowing yourself to be happy. What will you do with the misery you have chosen? Will you eat misery?
There was something brittle about her, and he feared she would snap apart at the slightest touch; she had thrown herself so fiercely into this, the erasing of memory, that it would destroy her.
I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there.
it would hurt him to know she had felt that way for a while, that her relationship with him was like being content in a house but always sitting by the window and looking out.
Ma? I think you have the spirit of husband-repelling. You are too hard, ma, you will not find a husband. But my pastor can destroy that spirit.
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. With him, she was at ease; her skin felt as though it was her right size.
femelu could not understand this, her mother’s ability to tell herself stories about her reality that did not even resemble her reality
The longer she spent in America, the better she had become at distinguishing, sometimes from looks and gait, but mostly from bearing and demeanor, that fine-grained mark that culture stamps on people. (Chapter 17)
They never said “I don’t know.” They said, instead, “I’m not sure,” which did not give any information but still suggested the possibility of knowledge.
She seemed so happy, so at peace, and I wondered how anybody around me could feel that way when liquid fire was raging inside me, when fear was mingling with hope and clutching itself around my ankles.
…she thought of him as a person who did not have a normal spine, but had instead, a firm reed of goodness.
One day, I will look up and all the people I know will be dead or abroad.
Be a full person. Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by motherhood. Be a full person. Your child will benefit from that.
Talk to her about sex, and start early. It will probably be a bit awkward, but it is necessary.
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.
Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person.
Alexa, and the other guests, and perhaps even Georgina, all understood the fleeing from war, from the kind of poverty that crushed human souls, but they would not understand the need to escape from the oppressive lethargy of choicelessness.
The best thing about America is that it gives you space. I like that. I like that you buy into the dream, it’s a lie but you buy into it and that’s all that matters.
She felt a sense that things were in order, the way they were meant to be, and that even if they tumbled down once in a while, in the end they would come back together again.
Race doesn’t really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don’t have that choice.
But why do we say nothing?” Ujunwa asked. She raised her voice and looked at the others. “Why do we always say nothing?
In America, racism exists but racists are all gone.
Maybe it’s time to just scrap the word “racist.” Find something new. Like Racial Disorder Syndrome. And we could have different categories for sufferers of this syndrome: mild, medium, and acute.
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.
he lived in London indeed but invisibly, his existence like an erased pencil sketch
White writers can be blunt about race and get all activist because their anger isn’t threatening
It doesn’t have to be dreads. You can wear an Afro, or braids like you used to. There’s a lot you can do with natural hair
He thought about the next time he would laugh with her and then the next. He found himself often thinking about the future, even before the present was over.
Try more strategy and less force. Passion never wins any game, never mind what they say.” He said something similar now: “Excuses don’t win a game. You should try strategy.
She did not tell him this, because it would hurt him to know she had felt that way for a while, that her relationship with him was like being content in a house but always sitting by the window and looking out.
You could have just said Ngozi is your tribal name and Ifemelu is your jungle name and throw in one more as your spiritual name. They’ll believe all kinds of shit about Africa.
There’s something very lazy about the way you have loved him blindly for so long without ever criticizing him. You’ve never even accepted that the man was ugly.
There are many different ways to be poor in the world but increasingly there seems to be one single way to be rich.
There is so much that is still silent between Jaja and me. Perhaps we will talk more with time, or perhaps we never will be able to say it all, to clothe things in words, things that have long been naked.
Soon,” he said in his letter. They said “soon” to each other often, and “soon” gave their plan the weight of something real.
She wanted to ask him why they were all strangers who shared the same last name.
I don’t want to be a sweetheart. I want to be the fucking love of your life,” Curt said with a force that startled her.
Oh, why did he slap her when she’s a widow, and that annoyed her even more. She said she should not have been slapped because she is a full human being, not because she doesn’t have a husband to speak for her.
Is love this misguided need to have you beside me most of the time? Is love this safety I feel in our silences? Is it this belonging, this completeness?
If you followed the media you’d think that everybody in Africa was starving to death, and that’s not the case; so it’s important to engage with the other Africa.
Non-fiction, and in particular the literary memoir, the stylised recollection of personal experience, is often as much about character and story and emotion as fiction is.
I ask questions. I watch the world. And what I have discovered is that the parts of my fiction that people most tell me are ‘unbelievable’ are those that are most closely based on the real, those least diluted by my imagination.