Coping the quote
26+ quotes from Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Quotes from Men We Reaped

Jesmyn Ward ·  272 pages

Rating: (8.6K votes)


“I think my love for books sprang from my need to escape the world I was born into, to slide into another where words were straightforward and honest, where there was clearly delineated good and evil, where I found girls who were strong and smart and creative and foolish enough to fight dragons, to run away from home to live in museums, to become child spies, to make new friends and build secret gardens.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“We tried to outpace the thing that chased us, that said: You are nothing. We tried to ignore it, but sometimes we caught ourselves repeating what history said, mumbling along, brainwashed: I am nothing. We drank too much, smoked too much, were abusive to ourselves, to each other. We were bewildered. There is a great darkness bearing down on our lives, and no one acknowledges it.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“Life is a hurricane, and we board up to save what we can and bow low to the earth to crouch in that small space above the dirt where the wind will not reach. We honor anniversaries of deaths by cleaning graves and sitting next to them before fires, sharing food with those who will not eat again. We raise children and tell them other things about who they can be and what they are worth: to us, everything. We love each other fiercely, while we live and after we die. We survive; we are savages.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“We crawled through time like roaches through the linings of walls, the neglected spaces and hours, foolishly happy that we were still alive even as we did everything to die.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“Because we trusted nothing, we endeavored to protect ourselves, boys becoming misogynistic and violent, girls turning duplicitous, all of us hopeless.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“But I am not that eloquent, so I shut my mouth and smile.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“After I left New York, I found the adage about time healing all wounds to be false: grief doesn't fade. Grief scabs over like scars and pulls into new, painful configurations as it knits. It hurts in new ways. We are never free from grief. We are never free from the feeling that we have failed. We are never free from self-loathing. We are never free from the feeling that something is wrong with us, not with the world that made this mess.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“Both of us on the cusp of adulthood, and this is how my brother and I understood what it meant to be a woman: working, dour, full of worry. What it meant to be a man: resentful, angry, wanting life to be everything but what it was.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“The land that the community park is built on, I recently learned, is designated to be used as burial sites so the graveyard can expand as we die; one day our graves will swallow up our playground.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“By the numbers, by all the official records, here at the confluence of history, of racism, of poverty, and economic power, this is what our lives are worth: nothing.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“But this grief, for all its awful weight, insists that he matters.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“Men’s bodies litter my family history. The pain of the women they left behind pulls them from the beyond, makes them appear as ghosts. In death, they transcend he circumstances of this place that I love and hate all at once and become supernatural.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“By the time we'd moved into that rambling, lopsided wooden house, I'd already fallen in love with reading. I think my love for books sprang from my need to escape the world I was born into, to slide into another where words were straightforward and honest, where there was clearly delineated good and evil, where I found girls who were strong and smart and creative and foolish enough to fight dragons, to run away from home to live in museums, to become child spies, to make new friends and build secret gardens.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“Demond’s family history wasn’t so different from my own, did that mean we were living the same story over and over again, down through the generations? That the young and Black had always been dying, until all that was left were children and the few old, as in war?”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“own, did that mean we were living the same story over and over again, down through the generations? That the young and Black had always been dying, until all that was left were children and the few old, as in war?”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“I knew that I lived in a place where hope and a sense of possibility were as ephemeral as morning fog, but I did not see the despair at the heart of our drug use.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“When people ask me about my hometown, I tell them it was called after a wolf before it was partially tamed and settled.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“I didn't want them to look at me after saying something about Black people, didn't want to have to avert my eyes so they didn't see me studying them, studying the entitlement they wore like another piece of clothing.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“I'm still ashamed that I did not step out of that dense grass, that I did not climb those steps and grab his hand and lead him down them as an elder sister should, that I did not say: Here I am, brother. I'm here.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“Why figure out what will motivate this kid to learn if, statistically, he’s just another young Black male destined to drop out anyway? He was never referred to a counselor, never tested for a learning disorder, never given some sort of individual attention that might better equip him to navigate junior high school and high school.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“Kids will take shots of white strong liquor, they will smoke weed wrapped in thick blunts, they will even take Ecstasy or prescription pain pills, but they will not casually pull out an eight-ball of coke and push it across the table at a house party. Why? Because the specter of the cousin or the uncle or aunt or the mother or father who couldn't stop partying, whose teeth are burned brown from the pipe, sits next to them at the table. Young people who do coke lie about it, attempt to hide it, and often fight it.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“We saw the lightning and that was the guns; and then we heard the thunder and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped. —Harriet Tubman Young”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“But my father could be dark too. He was attracted to violence, to the basic beauty of fighting, the way it turned his body and those he fought into meticulously constructed machines.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“I found the adage about time healing all wounds to be false: grief doesn’t fade. Grief scabs over like my scars and pulls into new, painful configurations as it knits. It hurts in new ways. We are never free from grief. We are never free from the feeling that we have failed. We are never free from self-loathing. We are never free from the feeling that something is wrong with us, not with the world that made this mess. Death”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“Joshua looked through the screen and it was as if he saw me clearly with my soapy hands, my wrinkled fingers, my jaw grinding with frustration and self-abasement, and he hated me. Both of us on the cusp of adulthood, and this is how my brother and I understood what it meant to be a woman: working, dour, full of worry. What it meant to be a man: resentful, angry, wanting life to be everything but what it was.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


“In real life, I looked at my father and mother and understood dimly that it was harder to be a girl, that boys had it easier. Here, boys could buy and ride motorcycles and come and leave when they wanted to and exude a kind of cool while they stood shirtless at the edge of the street, talking and laughing with one another, passing a beer around, smoking cigarettes. Meanwhile, the women I knew were working even when they weren’t at work: cooking, washing loads of clothes, hanging them to dry, and cleaning the house. There was no time for them to just relax and be.”
― Jesmyn Ward, quote from Men We Reaped


About the author

Jesmyn Ward
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