CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE: So basically in the US, it’s very hard for white people in general to get what it means to be black in America. It’s the same country, it’s the same country in many ways, but I just find that’s it’s very interesting. And the few instances where I talk to white people who really get race, it’s often because they’ve loved a black person, and deeply loved a black person.
ZADIE SMITH: Well maybe we could think of not just as the literal romance between white and black people but as a radical, philosophical idea, right? Instead of just tolerating your neighbor, you love them. You don’t have to move in with them, marry them, and have children, but you find a way to love them.
CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE: But, but there’s a version of American love that I don’t mean, right? I mean sorry but really. There’s a kind of American love where people just are not really connected. You’re supposed to be comfortable and you know you can be in love in this country and still be expected if you go out to individually pay for your own food, right? You know I come from a culture where loves means you all go out and one person pays for everyone and on the next day one person for everybody else, but in the US even if you’re in love you’re like [looks down at palm as if she were scrutinizing a bill and speaks in an American accent], “Now did you have the calamari?” Even going beyond romantic love, just the idea of trying to imagine. I suppose it’s difficult, I suppose it is, trying to imagine what’s it like to be someone else. Right and also, I don’t know, America fascinates me because I think there’s a willful, almost like a willful denial of history. I keep thinking how can white people not get it if you know the history of America.
We love this interview. Watch the full seventy minutes here.
This is everything.
"This isn’t to say that straight white men never speak up for our interests. But there is a level of comfort in knowing that the person speaking has lived your experience. And shared experience is also a galvanizing force. By the time Davis had stopped talking, hours later, this week was no…
I locked eyes with her once. I was on my way out of the Urban Outfitters on 14th and 6th, after one of those futile shopping trips that drive you nuts precisely because you can feel your payday riches burning a hole in your wallet, itching to be free.
We crossed paths. I stared. She stared. I opened my mouth. I closed my mouth. She smiled and said, “Hi.” I smiled back meekly, a weird croak bubbling passed my lips. Then I left.
So, yeah. Nice work, D.
I’ve reread On Beauty six times in the last six years. Because her voice is amazing. Because I’m always expecting to figure out exactly what it is about the book that makes me so gleeful. Because reading OB always ends with me carrying it around for a week after I’ve finished, waiting to corner friends long enough to force it on them.
Because of gems like these:
"In fact, when she was not in company it didn’t seem to her that she had a face at all…And yet in college, she was famed for being opinionated, a ‘personality’ — the truth was she didn’t take these public passions home, or even out of the room, in any serious way. She didn’t feel that she had any real opinions, or at least not in the way other people seemed to have them. Once the class was finished she saw at once how she might have argued the thing just as viciously and successfully the other way round; defended Flaubert over Foucault; rescued Austen from insult instead of Adorno. Was anyone ever genuinely attached to anything? She had no idea. It was either only Zora who experienced this odd impersonality or it was everybody, and they were all play-acting as she was.”
"People talk about the happy quiet that can exist between two lovers, but this too was great; sitting between his sister and brother, saying nothing, eating. Before the world existed, before it was populated, and before there were wars and jobs and colleges and movies and clothes and opinions and foreign travel — before all of these things there had only been one person, Zora, and only one place: a tent in the living room made from chairs and bed-sheets. After a few years, Levi arrived; space was made for him; it was as if he had always been. Look at them both now, Jerome found himself in their finger joints and neat conch ears, in their long legs and wild curls. He heard himself in their partial lisps caused by puffy tongues vibrating against slightly noticeable buckteeth. He did not consider if or how or why he loved them. They were just love: they were the first evidence he ever had of love, and they would be the last confirmation of love when everything else fell away."
“‘Right, I look fine. Except I don’t,’ said Zora, tugging sadly at her man’s nightshirt. This was why Kiki had dreaded having girls: she knew she wouldn’t be able to protect them from self-disgust. To that end she had tried banning television in the early years, and never had a lipstick or a woman’s magazine crossed the threshold of the Belsey home to Kiki’s knowledge, but these and other precautionary measures had made no difference. It was in the air, or so it seemed to Kiki, this hatred of women and their bodies — it seeped in with every draught in the house; people brought it home on their shoes, they breathed it in off their newspapers. The was no way to control it.”
I would go on, but it’s after 9 a.m., and food.
Me: Can I try the jalapeno hummus?
Guy working at the farmer's market: A pretty girl like you can have anything she wants.
Me: [silent eyeroll] [mouth full of hummus]
Guy: I'm off work at 7:30.
Me: So you're saying I have to make a decision about this hummus at some point in the next hour?
Because your people are human. Full stop.