Black Misery Is… Quotes from AALBC.com Visitors

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Black Misery, the last book written by Langston Hughes, was originally published in 1969. Black Misery is filled with poignant images by Arouni and “Black Misery Is…” captions by Hughes (see example below). AALBC.com visitors have shared their “Black Misery Is…” quotes below. Add your quotes to our comments below.

black misery text
“Misery is when you heard
on the radio that the neighborhood
you live in is a slum but
you always thought it was home”

…when your car costs more than what you make a year, and you have no concept of the term "Equity". —A. McBride

“…always talking about how we have to reclaim our youth, and yet we sit motionless, tight-lipped, with cast down eyes while they curse and scream at the top of their lungs, disrespecting old and young alike, because just like everybody else we fear them." —D. Dorce

“…watching African AMmericans/Negro's ETC continue to greet each other with "whassup my nigga" and a hug,smile or high five." —B. Banner

“…when you have worked hard to know all you can know about a job, and are confident in who you are and what you do and know, and are told that you are to attitudinal, intimidating, and over bearing for your white supervisors." —K. Moreland

“…Black folks represent 48 percent of the reported cases of AIDS in the United States and represent only 13 percent of the population in the United States" —Neecee

“…when I see our "Natural Conscious" Brothas & Sistas locked and wrapped tight, speaking about the plight of our cause. With nicotine and alcohol dangling from their hands. Talking the talk but not walking the walk." —RJ Haynes

“… trying to teach your heart out to our young Black students because you want them to understand and succeed and then these same Black students tell you that they could care less about an education. They try twice as hard to reject your help than it would be to accept your help." —C.C.Warner

“…is knowing that if a child enters foster care today, it would take several days to locate an appropriate placement for this American child but yet, the majority of our city has at least three prisons" —A. White

“… is the complex emotions I encounter each time I leave a juvenile court session. As a social worker it was very disheartening to watch powers that be spend millions of dollars deciding the fate a child born in another county. Yet, this same County has failed to a provide a solution or placement for the continuing number of children entering the foster care system." —A. White

“…listening to my brothers & sisters complain about not being given a chance by the same people who have oppressed them for so many years." — D. Ryan

“…seeing the children of the Diaspora equating "making it" in America with expensive material possessions such as the fabulous house and car while forgetting that finding peace within their soul is the only way to "make it" anywhere on the globe.' —G. Les Malone

“…Getting a degree and settling for jobs with no future.”—N. Crawford

“…Selling us the hype that we are inferior, nonproductive beings.” —N. Crawford

“…knowing that fighting racism will be your life long battle."—S. Anderson

“…the Affirmative Action debate."  — Troy Johnson

“…having no understanding of your past....which leads to a lack of understanding of the future”— K. Hughes

“…is waiting for that 40 acres and the mule.”— M. McKinney

“…Having to listen to an individual that is obviously intellectually challenged, who also will not allow you to get a word in because they are afraid you will discover their plight.

“…working two-jobs, seven days a week and attending an urban university part-time to better yourself, only to have your black friends/co-workers ask what your G.P.A. is...when you tell them a 4.0, they immediately ask what you are taking and comment that you couldn't do it at a private "white" institution.”—  aduchess@gateway.net

“…feeling proud to be a part of an Historically Black College or University, but ashamed that the Black Administration treats you like a slave -- simply because you're only a professor.”— Regina Blackwell

“…finding your hair-care products ghettoized in the "ethnic" section of the store."  — Regina Blackwell

“…giving up on life long goals and taking menial jobs because we are scared to dream the impossible (or is it?) dream...” —  S. Neil

“…dividing ourselves because we are 'too dark' or 'too light' skinned when our hearts pump just the same...”—  S. Neil

“…when our elders fear their own creation, their children...” —S. Neil

“…..when people walk into a black bookstore and ask, "Is there a real bookstore in the area?”—F. Leach

“…watching two young and pregnant black women on a talk show throw punches and hurl insults at each other as they roll around on the floor fighting over the unemployed and shiftless father of their respective born and unborn children who has since moved on to live off a third woman” —R. Pointer

“…losing yourself to an establishment that is already lost to you." —-David Sutherland

"...buying choice cuts of meats at your neighborhood butcher on Saturdays and then one day asking for a couple of neckbones or hamhocks and the butcher asks, "Is that for you?”— Hollace White

“…putting a white face to an educated voice, only to realize they are black, but kicking yourself on the inside for your first assumption” —Gabrielle Johnson

“…broken glass at a bus stop at 96th and Lexington Ave. being fixed in lass than 8 hours and a 15 year old girl commenting, You know if this was my neighborhood , pleeeease, it would be fixed never.” —Gabrielle Johnson

“…knowing that you are more competent and talented than your caucasian boss, but you are unable to combat the "good ol boy" network.” —Leon Capers

“…loving everyone new without reservation--until they prove you wrong.   But not being given the same respect in return.” —M. Belanger

“…earning three times the salary of the salesclerk who is following you around the sales floor.” —Monica Belanger

“…being a black mother/sister/daughter/friend to the injured black soldiers on today's battlefield only to find they have been brainwashed to think we are the enemy.” —Duncan, Myriam J., 

“…not realizing that you can be colored and corporate.” —Forest, Colette, 

“…seeing a successful black brother/sister and only having something negative to say.”—Candace V. Grant, 

“…being intelligent, but very invisible”.  [This is sometimes the plight of the Black man and woman in America.  WE are fighting to keep our identity, though taken for granted, persecuted and ostracized.] — Sonya Atkins  

"...when you are in a senior management position and your subordinates are welcomed into the good ol' boy network with open arms but you are not welcomed" —Eric W. Campbell, 

".....waking up everyday to continue the struggle from the day before wondering, worrying and thinking endless thoughts of not being able to take no more.   Of the pain, punishment, suffering and being treated like you started a world war.   But Hell all we did was take the front line, lost many of our kind in such a short period of time and to this day we don't know what they really died for"
—Dellarekus, 

“…being an educated,  professional black man and not being able to flag down a cab on the city streets, that happens to be empty and is going in the same direction that you want to go...”—- Eric W. Campbell

“…just being”— Eric W. Campbell

“…trying to keep a positive mental attitude, while dealing with all of the self-hatred that is prevalent in the black community” — Eric W. Campbell

“…no matter how many educational, professional and financial accomplishments we achieve, always having to prove to the advertising community that we all don't live for the 15th or 30th of the month, collect food stamps, live in the projects and use "be" as a verb”—

"...The obvious glances of white co-workers as they walk past your office and wondering why you have one...and they don't." —Stewart, LaWanne

“…being asked if you are allowed to lawn work on other property when the lawn you are taking care of is yours.” —  Garrett, Micheal

“…watching them as they grab for their purses/wallets as you come near and you know that what you're wearing probably cost more than they make in a month.” —  Garrett, Micheal

“…finding out that the statement, "We have to be twice as good, to go half as far," is really true." —Scott Haskins

“…watching rich Blacks purse their lips.”—Paula Robinson

Clarification: Misery is watching Blacks who have “assimilated” purse their lips , it seems the richer they become the more they purse their lips trying to be like white folks . I think it should be enough to be able to have what they have without wanting to be like them, or wanting to be of the same substance. After all, we are the descendants of Kings & Queens. Their ancestors were sent here because they were either criminals or religious zealots the Europeans didn”t want around them.

“…the surprised look on their face when you say you went to college on an academic scholarship, not athletic.” —Camille Gardner

“…the assumption that because you're black, you are an authority on gang violence, drugs and poverty.”—Camille Gardner

“…when they assume all of us are Puff Daddy's biggest fans.”— Camille Gardner

“…the satisfaction they get when they assumed you are the secretary and your blonde secretary is the boss.” —  Camille Gardner

“…when you purchase something with a credit card and they are surprised it went through.”—Camille Gardner

“…having the ability to excel, the fortitude to withstand and the ignorance of another trying to keep you back.”—Pamblove

''...the death of both your parents within a year of each other and getting a $6.00 rebate check from the insurance company for the  policy they paid on for over 30 years." —Blackrose

“…realizing that we (Blacks) are grateful for the few that stand vigil on the political/socioeconomic/and education front line, but dreading the day when we may be called in to service.  For we know that the truth is we can not guard to protect what we do not truly value or understand." — samjcil

“…Black misery is trying to make white people feel comfortable around you even though you are supposed to be the minority.”

“…watching sisters and brothers who have achieved, trying hard to assimilate into a culture that has tried and succeeded in keeping them on the borderline of an unwelcoming society. —  Lady J

“…seeing bothers and sisters deny their culture to be a part of a culture that doesn't recognize them. — Lady J

“…watching Black Churches die because many members are ashamed of praising the God that brought us all through, when society thought we were doomed. —  Lady J

“…watching what appears to be educated as well as uneducated brothers and sisters acting in a less-than-shameful manner on television talk shows. . —D. Anderson

“…[are] people who argue/fight with kkk (not capitalized to display their lack of importance to me) members or racists. It is not necessary for me to argue with anyone who feels that I am less than they are. The only way to prove otherwise is to show them. They (kkk and racists) make degrading comments for a reaction. Once they receive that reaction, they walk away confident that their point has been made. I may get upset by a remark, but they will never know. I know who God is and what He has made me into. Therefore, I will not allow them to define nor upset me. That is too much like giving them control over my emotions. NO ONE gets that kind of control. Least of all, a bunch of jealous freaks that are so proud of themselves, they have to wear hoods, to cover their faces, in public.”—D. Anderson

“…allowing your zip code to dictate and determine who you are.”—  Sheila

"...visiting the high academic achievement classes in your local high school and thinking that the school is all White until you see the football team and learn that the school is actually 20% African-American.” —shangue

“…not recognizing your ancestors for the heros they were. Not the slaves, but the slaves who fought, bought and escaped their way to freedom.   The ones who didn't adapt, but sought freedom. The proud kings and queens who refused to belong to anyone else.”— Diana Carmona

“…loving someone with all the intensity, ferocity, and passion that your spirit can muster for as long as possible because you know that your soul will not allow the relationship to last."  —China Brown

“…sitting back and listening to the laughter of trolls, who sit pearched on top of street lights, waiting to take black boys souls.”— Karen S.M. Allwood