From an interview Alice Walker did with The New York Review of Books in 2018.
Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” had a great impact on me as a very young child. It opens with the lines, “If you can keep your head when all about you/ Are losing theirs and blaming it on you” and the last line is, “you’ll be a Man, my son!” Well, I don’t care about the man part, but I did know at that age whenever I heard it, it gave me permission to understand that I can go my own way. I can keep my head and not care what everyone else is doing with their heads, but I need to keep mine. That’s the kind of power that poetry has.
A sample from Alice Walker’s newest book of poetry Taking the Arrow Out of The Heart (October 2018). This is called “I Am Telling You, Discouraged One, We Will Win.”
I am telling you
we will win.
And I will show you
We are the offspring
of the ignorantly
with our smiles
and provoke music
out of trash.
Who can completely
such genius? Continue reading
By Alice Walker, from a talk she gave at Auburn Theological Seminary (NYC, April 1995) in Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer’s Activism (1997):
It is fatal to love a God who does not love you. A God specifically created to comfort, lead, advise, strengthen and enlarge the tribal borders of someone else. We have been beggars at the table of a religion that sanctioned our destruction. Our own religions denied, forgotten; our own ancestral connection to All Creation something of which we are ashamed. I maintain that we are empty, lonely, without our pagan-heathen ancestors; that we must lively them up within ourselves, and begin to see them as whole and necessary and correct: their Earth-centered, female-reverencing religions, like their architecture, agriculture, and music, suited perfectly to the lives they led. And lead, those who are left, today. Continue reading
After George W. Bush was elected in 2000, Alice Walker said in an interview: “I know that Martin Luther King would have felt very saddened because he gave his life for a very much larger vision.” During the Obama years, Walker was asked in an interview with an Israeli publication what Dr. King would have thought of Obama’s America and what should be done to fulfill his vision. This was her response:
Martin Luther King was a leader, a person of conviction. He would find it difficult to comprehend, as I do, why Obama is incapable of standing up to Israel and why, whenever he tries, he soon collapses again. I believe Obama started out in the presidency as a good and decent person. With much ambition, but that is not a crime. However, killing people in distant lands by drone attack is, in my opinion, a crime. Condoning Israel’s crimes makes him an enabler of criminal behavior and complicit in the misery Israel causes to poor and frightened people. This is almost unbearable to face, because I, like so many others, love Barack. But we have lost him to the US government machine that is only running true to course in its treacherous machinations around the globe. Continue reading
From a young Alice Walker in “From An Interview” (1973):
If there is one thing African-Americans and Native Americans have retained of their African and ancient American heritage, it is probably the belief that everything is inhabited by spirit. This belief encourages knowledge perceived intuitively. It does not surprise me, personally, that scientists now are discovering that trees, plants, flowers, have feelings…emotions, that they shrink when yelled at; that they faint when an evil person is about who might hurt them.
From Alice Walker in The Color Purple (1982):
…have you ever found God in church? I never did. I just found a bunch of folks hoping for him to show. Any God I ever felt in church I brought in with me. And I think all the other folks did too. They come to church to share God, not find God.
From Alice Walker, poet, activist and the author of many works including The Color Purple (1982). This was the conclusion of a piece published in the recent 150th anniversary edition of The Nation:
What can the white man say to the black woman?
Only one thing that the black woman might hear.
Yes, indeed, the white man can say, your children have the right to life. Therefore I will call back from the dead those 30 million who were tossed overboard during the centuries of the slave trade. And the other millions who died in my cotton fields and hanging from my trees.