These 10 quotes on racism and race are important

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • George Floyd's memory will live on - just like these powerful and poignant quotes about race and racism from activists, supporters and celebrities

    As the world continues to feel revolusion over the agonising death of George Floyd, who was killed in broad daylight by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25, people across the globe are speaking out against racism and have pledged to help the black community fight for equality once and for all. We’ve compiled a selection of some of the most poignant quotes about race and racism from activists, supporters and celebrities, to empower, inspire and remind us all never to underestimate our power as individuals to do better.

    1.‘Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into’ – Scott Woods, author

     

    2. ‘A riot is the language of the unheard’ – Martin Luther King, activist

    Martin Luther King Jr. became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968 (Getty Images)

    3.‘Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible – until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it’ – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, American basketball player

     

    4.  ‘Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of colour to deal with it’ – Michelle Obama, former First Lady of The United States of America

    View this post on Instagram

    Like so many of you, I’m pained by these recent tragedies. And I’m exhausted by a heartbreak that never seems to stop. Right now it’s George, Breonna, and Ahmaud. Before that it was Eric, Sandra, and Michael. It just goes on, and on, and on. Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it. It’s up to all of us—Black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets. I pray we all have the strength for that journey, just as I pray for the souls and the families of those who were taken from us. Artwork: @nikkolas_smith

    A post shared by Michelle Obama (@michelleobama) on

    5. ‘What you do in times of crisis reflects your truth’ – Candace Howze, writer and podcaster

     

    6. ‘No more seeing people of colour as less than human. We can no longer look away’ – Beyoncé, singer

    The singer pictured with husband Jay-Z last year (Getty Images)

    7. ‘No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love’ – Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa

     

    8. ‘I was raised to believe that excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism. And that’s how I operate my life’  – Oprah Winfrey, Talk Show Host

    View this post on Instagram

    I’ve been trying to process what can be said or heard in this moment. I haven’t been able to get the image of the knee on his neck out of my head. It’s there every morning when I rise and when I go through the ordinary duties of the day. While pouring coffee, lacing my shoes, and taking a breath, I think: He doesn’t get to do this. And now the video from the other angle of two other officers pinning him down. My heart sinks even deeper. His family and friends say he was a gentle giant. His death has now shown us he had a giant soul. If the largeness of a soul is determined by its sphere of influence, George Floyd is a Mighty soul. #GeorgeFloyd: We speak your name. But this time we will not let your name be just a hashtag. Your spirit is lifted by the cries of all of us who call for justice in your name!

    A post shared by Oprah (@oprah) on

    9. ‘Treat racism like Covid-19 – assume you have it. You may be asymptomatic. Racism is the disease. You may be the carrier but the aim is not to destroy the host but eradicate the kill the disease’ – Vanessa Kingori, British Vogue Publishing Director

    View this post on Instagram

    Please talk more, listen more and read more. Ensure discussions are actually lead by black people, to understand our experience 1st hand. Black people, even though you are sad, tired, and frustrated please try to find the strength to listen and explain with an open heart to those you love and who want to understand and do better. I spent a big portion of yesterday in open emotional discussion with my team about the black British experience of racism. So many of them felt lost as to how to support #BlackLivesMatter authentically and even confused as to why black Brits are feeling SO personally affected. A challenging but bonding experience with some important breakthroughs. I then spent time advising at a company level behind the scenes for CN’s D&I efforts. I finished the day emotionally wiped out. I wish I had seen this @backonair content first. Perfectly summarises the top line advice. Racism is a disease we can treat but it’s constant hard work for all who engage. #DoTheWork

    A post shared by Vanessa Kingori MBE (@vanessakingori) on

    10. ‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality’ – Desmond Tutu, Human Rights Activist

     

    Reading now

    Popular Life stories