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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

by Maya Angelou

Race Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

"Uncle Willie, why do they hate us so much?"

Uncle Willie muttered, "They don't really hate us. They don't know us. How can they hate us? They mostly scared." (25.11-12)

Is Uncle Willie right? Is racism about fear? Or is it about hate? Or is it just about ignorance?

Quote #8

The Japanese were not whitefolks. Their eyes, language and customs belied the white skin and proved to their dark successors that since they didn't have to be feared, neither did they have to be considered. All this was decided unconsciously. (27.6)

It's easy to forget in Caged Bird, but black and white are not the only races that exist. We have a whole Crayola diversity pack of colors in the world. In this case, the Japanese get totally pushed aside. Are the black people in San Francisco doing to the Japanese exactly what the white people have done to them?

Quote #9

The needs of a society determine its ethics, and in the Black American ghettos the hero is that man who is offered only the crumbs from his country's table but by ingenuity and courage is able to take for himself a Lucullan feast. (29.22)

Everyone wants a piece of the pie. When they aren't allowed to get it through legal means, some people figure out different ways of getting some sweet goodness. And Maya comes to respect and admire the black men she sees committing these petty crimes. What do you think? Is this a case of you've gotta do what you've gotta do? Or is a crime a crime?

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