Quotes about Ralph Ellison
3 Sourced Quotes
I agree with Ralph Ellison when he asked, perhaps rhetorically, why is it that so many of those who would tell us the meaning of Negro, of Negro life, never bothered to learn how varied it really is. That is particularly true of many whites who have elevated condescension to an art form by advancing a monolithic view of blacks in much the same way that the mythic, disgusting image of the lazy, dumb black was advanced by open, rather than disguised, bigots.
Long gone is the time when we opposed the notion that we all looked alike and talked alike. Somehow we have come to exalt the new black stereotype above all and to demand conformity to that norm. It is this notion — that our race defines us — that Ralph Ellison so eloquently rebuts in his essay, "The World and the Jug." He sees the lives of black people as more than a burden, but also a discipline, just as any human life which has endured so long is a discipline, teaching its own insights into the human condition, its own strategies of survival. There's a fullness and even a richness here. And here despite the realities of politics, perhaps, but nevertheless here and real because it is human life.
As Ralph Ellison wrote more than 35 years ago, 'Why is it so often true that when critics confront the American as Negro, they suddenly drop their advanced critical armament and revert with an air of confident superiority to quite primitive modes of analysis?' Those matters accomplished by whites are routinely subjected to sophisticated modes of analysis. But the when the selfsame matters are accomplished by blacks, the opaque racial prism of analysis precludes such sophistication, and all is seen in black and white. And some who would not venture onto the more sophisticated analytical turf are quite content to play in the minor leagues of primitive harping. The more things change, the more they remain the same.