Are you captivated by the works of one of the greatest literary voices of our present-day and age? As a Pulitzer and Nobel prize winner, Toni Morrison has written countless groundbreaking works during her lifetime. To celebrate the towering novelist, we have created this list of Toni Morrison quotes with some of her most powerful ideas and thoughts. Enjoy! And be sure not to miss our collection of empowering Maya Angelou quotes.

With her novels, Toni Morrison explored the grievances of black women in America. She was critically acclaimed as a visionary force and widely considered as a beacon in African-American culture.

“At some point in life, the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough.”
Toni Morrison

The works of Toni Morrison are often dreamlike and characterized by a nonlinear writing style. She jumps forward and backward in time and interlinks myth and the supernatural with everyday life in her stories.

Toni Morrison quotes

Toni Morrison quotes

Enjoy this heartfelt collection of wonderful Toni Morrison quotes

The revelation of intriguing insights about Black lives and what it means to be an African-American woman is a defining characteristic of all her works. Instead of focusing on one particular genre, she invigorated her literary portfolio with a mixture of poetry, drama, and love stories.

It can be quite difficult to keep up with all the groundbreaking works Toni Morrison has created throughout her lifetime. Aside from her 11 novels, she also authored five children’s books and nine nonfiction books. That’s why we created this list of Toni Morrison quotes with her most remarkable statements to give you a better overview of her thinking.

Here’s our collection of Toni Morrison quotes

1.

“The function of freedom is to free someone else.”
Toni Morrison

The function of freedom

The function of freedom

2.

“As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.”
Toni Morrison

Dream a little

Dream a little

3.

“No matter how hard we try to ignore it, the mind always knows truth and wants clarity.”
Toni Morrison

The mind always knows truth

The mind always knows truth

4.

“I don’t think many people appreciate silence or realize that it is as close to music as you can get.”
Toni Morrison

Appreciate silence

Appreciate silence

5.

“Now that I’m 84, I remember everything as a mistake, and I regret everything.”
Toni Morrison

I regret everything

I regret everything

6.

“Something that is loved is never lost.”
Toni Morrison

Something that is loved

Something that is loved

7.

“I remember very clearly I was writing with a pencil. I was sitting on a couch, writing with a pencil, trying to think up something and remembering what I just described.”
Toni Morrison

Sitting on a couch

Sitting on a couch

8.

“Writing, for me, is the big protection.”
Toni Morrison

The big protection

The big protection

9.

“Love. We have to embrace ourselves.”
Toni Morrison

Embrace ourselves

Embrace ourselves

10.

“Have a sense of humor; deliver something that somebody can use.”
Toni Morrison

A sense of humor

A sense of humor

11.

“There in the center of that silence was not eternity but the death of time and a loneliness so profound the word itself had no meaning.”
Toni Morrison

The center of that silence

The center of that silence

12.

“It is more interesting, more complicated, more intellectually demanding and more morally demanding to love somebody, to take care of somebody, to make one other person feel good.”
Toni Morrison

More interesting to love somebody

More interesting to love somebody

13.

“Free yourself from baggage and vanity and all sorts of things and deliver a better self.”
Toni Morrison

Free yourself from baggage

Free yourself from baggage

14.

“Love is not a gift. It is a diploma. A diploma conferring certain privileges: the privilege of expressing love and the privilege of receiving it.”
Toni Morrison

Love is not a gift

Love is not a gift

15.

“It is sheer good fortune to miss somebody long before they leave you.”
Toni Morrison

Sheer good fortune

Sheer good fortune

16.

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the stuff that weighs you down.”
Toni Morrison

The stuff that weighs you down

The stuff that weighs you down

17.

“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.”
Toni Morrison

Definitions belong to the definers

Definitions belong to the definers

18.

“How exquisitely human was the wish for permanent happiness, and how thin human imagination became trying to achieve it.”
Toni Morrison

The wish for permanent happiness

The wish for permanent happiness

19.

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
Toni Morrison

20.

“Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind.”
Toni Morrison

Love is divine

Love is divine

21.

“Don’t ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn’t fall in love, I rose in it.”
Toni Morrison

22.

“If you’re going to hold someone down you’re going to have to hold on by the other end of the chain. You are confined by your own repression.”
Toni Morrison

24.

“Couples that enter the sacrament of marriage and are not prepared to go the distance or are not willing to get right with the real love of God cannot thrive.”
Toni Morrison

25.

“Love is never any better than the lover.”
Toni Morrison

Love is never any better than the lover

Love is never any better than the lover

26.

“Anger… it’s a paralyzing emotion… you can’t get anything done.”
Toni Morrison

27.

“Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love of a free man is never safe.”
Toni Morrison

28.

“I’m writing for black people.”
Toni Morrison

29.

“Cowards are so dangerous. It’s that quality that informs serious hostility.”
Toni Morrison

Cowards are dangerous

Cowards are dangerous

30.

“Writing is really a way of thinking – not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic, or just sweet.”
Toni Morrison

31.

“Mother never rejected or accepted anybody based on race or color or religion or any of that. Everybody was an individual whom she approved of or disapproved of based on her perception of them as individuals.”
Toni Morrison

32.

“Scientifically there’s no such thing as race, Bride, so racism without race is a choice.”
Toni Morrison

No such thing as race

No such thing as race

33.

“Anything dead coming back to life hurts.”
Toni Morrison

34.

“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”
Toni Morrison

35.

“I used to be a little plant thief. You know, if I were someplace where there was something growing, I would snip it off, take it home and plant it.”
Toni Morrison

36.

“If you’re open, you can rely on the lived wisdom of the elderly. It’s not the book learning, it’s the lived wisdom.”
Toni Morrison

37.

“What’s the world for you if you can’t make it up the way you want it?”
Toni Morrison

What's the world for you

What's the world for you

38.

“What you do to children matters. And they might never forget.”
Toni Morrison

39.

“I had only one desire: to dismember it. To see of what it was made, to discover the dearness, to find the beauty, the desirability that had escaped me, but apparently only me.”
Toni Morrison

40.

“[Beauty] can destabilise you if that’s all you have and that’s all you care about and that’s where your success comes from.”
Toni Morrison

41.

“I wanted to separate color from race. Distinguishing color – light, black, in-between – as the marker for race is really an error.”
Toni Morrison

42.

“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work.”
Toni Morrison

43.

“My mother had the most beautiful voice I have ever heard in my life. She could sing anything – classical, jazz, blues, opera.”
Toni Morrison

44.

“To get to a place where you could love anything you chose – not to need permission for desire – well now that was freedom.”
Toni Morrison

Love anything you choose

Love anything you choose

45.

“He wants to put his story next to hers.”
Toni Morrison

His story next to hers

His story next to hers

46.

“He can’t value you more than you value yourself.”
Toni Morrison

47.

“I write the way women have babies. You don’t know it’s going to be like that. If you did, there’s no way you would go through with it.”
Toni Morrison

48.

“I joined a group of faculty and writers who met, I think, once a month to read to each other and critique each other. They had really, really good lunches, really good food during these meetings. But they wouldn’t let you continue to come if you were just reading old stuff. So I had to think up something new if I was going to continue to have this really good food and really good company outside of the – my colleagues. So I started writing.”
Toni Morrison

49.

“On the campus, where I felt safe and welcome, I began to realize that this idea of the lighter the better and the darker the worse was real.”
Toni Morrison

50.

“So much contemporary fiction, even when it’s well written is sort of … self-referential. I used to teach creative writing at Princeton and I would say ‘Don’t do that. Don’t write about your little life’.”
Toni Morrison

51.

“To be given dominion over another is a hard thing; to wrest dominion over another is a wrong thing; to give dominion of yourself to another is a wicked thing.”
Toni Morrison

52.

“It was a fine cry – loud and long – but it had no bottom and it had no top, just circles and circles of sorrow.”
Toni Morrison

53.

“Perhaps that’s what all human relationships boil down to: Would you save my life? Or would you take it?”
Toni Morrison

54.

“If you surrender to the wind you can ride it.”
Toni Morrison

Surrender to the wind

Surrender to the wind

55.

“I didn’t really have a strong awareness of segregation and the separation of races until I left Lorain, Ohio.”
Toni Morrison

56.

“I’m not writing to bring anything to the public consciousness per se, I’m writing because I want to talk to you. Just me and you.”
Toni Morrison

57.

“Everything that I’ve ever done, within the writing world, has been to expand upon articulation, rather than trying to close it. To open doors, sometimes, without even closing the book-leaving the endings open for reinterpretation and some ambiguity.”
Toni Morrison

58.

“Anger is better. There is a sense of being in anger. A reality and presence. An awareness of worth. It is a lovely surging.”
Toni Morrison

59.

“There is really nothing more to say-except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.”
Toni Morrison

60.

“We mistook violence for passion, indolence for leisure, and thought recklessness was freedom.”
Toni Morrison

We mistook violence for passion

We mistook violence for passion

61.

“People don’t want to get hurt. They don’t want to be left. They don’t want to be abandoned, you see. It’s as though love is always some present you’ve given somebody else. And it’s really a present you’re giving yourself.”
Toni Morrison

62.

“A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves – a special kind of double.”
Toni Morrison

63.

“It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.”
Toni Morrison

64.

“When fear rules, obedience is the only survival choice.”
Toni Morrison

65.

“When they fall in love with a city, it is for forever and it is like forever.”
Toni Morrison

66.

“When am I happy and when am I sad and what is the difference? What do I need to know to stay alive? What is true in the world?”
Toni Morrison

67.

“If happiness is anticipation with certainty, we were happy.”
Toni Morrison

Happiness is anticipation

Happiness is anticipation

68.

“I had a terrible sense of reluctance about dwelling upon the topic of slavery. Then I realized how very little I really knew about it.”
Toni Morrison

69.

“Nowadays silence is looked on as odd and most of my race has forgotten the beauty of meaning much by saying little. Now tongues work all day by themselves with no help from the mind.”
Toni Morrison

70.

“Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge.”
Toni Morrison

71.

“Black literature is taught as sociology, as tolerance, but not as a serious and rigorous art form.”
Toni Morrison

72.

“The presence of evil was something to be first recognized, then dealt with, survived, outwitted, triumphed over.”
Toni Morrison

73.

“I dedicated the book to the more than 60 million black men and women who died as a result of slavery.”
Toni Morrison

74.

“All paradises, all utopias are designed by who is not there, by the people who are not allowed in.”
Toni Morrison

People who are not allowed in

People who are not allowed in

75.

“You don’t have to love me but you damn well have to respect me.”
Toni Morrison

76.

“They encouraged you to put some of your weight in their hands and soon as you felt how light and lovely it was, they studied your scars and tribulations.”
Toni Morrison

77.

“Ohio has always held a special place in my heart since it’s where I grew up. It also offers me an escape from stereotypical black settings since it is neither a plantation nor a ghetto.”
Toni Morrison

78.

“I get angry about things, then go on and work.”
Toni Morrison

I get angry about things

I get angry about things

79.

“People tend to think that when black people leave home, they are weak, that they’re leaving their children.”
Toni Morrison

80.

“I don’t think a female running a house is a problem, a broken family. It’s perceived as one because of the notion that a head is a man.”
Toni Morrison

81.

“Sifting daylight dissolves the memory, turns it into dust motes floating in light.”
Toni Morrison

82.

“I’ve never been able to take positions that are closed.”
Toni Morrison

83.

“All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.”
Toni Morrison

84.

“I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.”
Toni Morrison

Because I wanted to read it

Because I wanted to read it

85.

“The real hell of Hell is that it is forever.”
Toni Morrison

86.

“The difficult part is trying to create characters that are not easily dismissed. Sometimes, even people that you admire. In other words, people that are just like you and me. My job, is to make sure that my characters are people that are just like you and me, because I cannot think of anyone less complicated than that.”
Toni Morrison

87.

“To find out the truth about how dreams die, one should never take the word of the dreamer.”
Toni Morrison

88.

“Some books should not be made into films. Many of the books that I’ve read throughout my life have impacted me in such a way that films have not.”
Toni Morrison

89.

“If you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”
Toni Morrison

90.

“Sweet, crazy conversations full of half sentences, daydreams and misunderstandings more thrilling than understanding could ever be.”
Toni Morrison

91.

“Correct what you can; learn from what you can’t.”
Toni Morrison

92.

“Me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow.”
Toni Morrison

93.

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

Claiming ownership

Claiming ownership

94.

“There is no gift for the beloved. The lover alone possesses his gift of love. The loved one is shorn, neutralized, frozen in the glare of the lover’s inward eye.”
Toni Morrison

95.

“Lonely was much better than alone.”
Toni Morrison

96.

“I dream a dream that dreams back at me”
Toni Morrison

97.

“When I think of autumn, I think of somebody with hands who does not want me to die.”
Toni Morrison

98.

“There is a loneliness that can be rocked. Arms crossed, knees drawn up, holding, holding on, this motion, unlike a ship’s, smooths and contains the rocker. It’s an inside kind–wrapped tight like skin. Then there is the loneliness that roams. No rocking can hold it down. It is alive. On its own. A dry and spreading thing that makes the sound of one’s own feet going seem to come from a far-off place.”
Toni Morrison

99.

“Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.”
Toni Morrison

100.

“Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another – physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion.”
Toni Morrison

101.

“He can’t value you more than you value yourself.”
Toni Morrison

102.

“Tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.”
Toni Morrison

103.

“The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.”
Toni Morrison

104.

“You can’t own a human being. You can’t lose what you don’t own.”
Toni Morrison

105.

“And I am all the things I have ever loved: scuppernong wine, cool baptisms in silent water, dream books and number playing.”
Toni Morrison

106.

“You think because he doesn’t love you that you are worthless. Don’t.”
Toni Morrison

107.

“You are your best thing.”
Toni Morrison

We hope you enjoyed this collection of Toni Morrison quotes.

The selection of Toni Morrison’s works in the above gives you a good overview of the life and legacy of the acclaimed writer. Just like her various works, these quotes are a diverse blend of myth, realism, magic, and fantasy. While some of her thoughts will inspire you to fight for your dreams, others highlight the misery countless individuals had to suffer from in the past.

What is your favorite quote of the groundbreaking novelist?

Is there one particular thought by Toni Morrison that mesmerizes you whenever you read it? We’re excited to hear from you in the common section below.

Stay victorious!

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