“We are all weak most of the time,” she said finally. “Look at the baby. Born to his mother, he learns how to eat from her, how to walk, talk, hunt, run. He does not invent new ways. He just continues with the old. This is how we all come to the world, James. Weak and needy, desperate to learn how to be a person.” She smiled at him. “But if we do not like the person we have learned to be, should we just sit in front of our fufu, doing nothing? I think, James, that maybe it is possible to make a new way.” >>>
“This day, Jo looked out and saw the girl's little legs start to move: a bend at the knee, an outward kick, repeat. Beulah was running. Maybe this is where ti started, Jo thought. Maybe Beulah was seeing something more clearly on the nights she had these dreams, a little black child fighting in her sleep against an opponent she couldn't name come morning because in the light that opponent just looked like the world around her. Intangible evil. Unspeakable unfairness. Beulah ran in her sleep, ran like she's stolen something, when really she had done nothing other than expect the peace, the clarity, that came with dreaming. Yes, Jo thought, this was where it started, but when, where, did it end?” >>>
“Esi stared at her mother then, and it was as though she were seeing her for the first time. Maame was not a whole woman. There were large swaths of her spirit missing, and no matter how much she loved Esi, and no matter how much Esi loved her, they both knew in that moment that love could never return what Maame had lost. And Esi knew, too, that her mother would die rather than run into the woods ever again, die before capture, die even if it meant that in her dying, Esi would inherit that unspeakable sense of loss, learn what it meant to be un-whole.” >>>
“She looked at her mother. The way her shoulders always seemed to droop, the way her eyes were always shifting. Suddenly, Esi was filled with a horrible shame. She remembered the first time she'd seen an elder spit on the captives in the town square. The man had said, 'Northerners, they are not even people. They are the dirt that begs for spit.' Esi was five years old then. His words had felt like a lesson, and the next time she passed, she timidly gathered her won spit and launched it at a little boy who stood huddled with his mother. The boy had cried out, speaking a language that Esi didn't understand, and Esi had felt bad, not for having spit, but for knowing how angry her mother would have been to see her do it.
Now all Esi could picture was her own mother behind the dull metal of the cages. Her own mother, huddled with a sister she would never know.” >>>