Watch Toni Morrison Explain the “Profound Neurosis” of Racism

“If you can only be tall because somebody is on their knees, then you have a serious problem.”

As the world reacts to the death of Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, who died Monday in New York at 88, many are sharing their favorite quotes from the trailblazing novelist, whose captivating and commanding writings on the trauma of racism came to define American literature in a way few others have been able to accomplish.

One such moment that has been widely viewed in the wake of Morrison’s death is a clip from a 1993 interview with Charlie Rose. Rose asked her how she responds to everyday racist encounters. “Let me tell you, that’s the wrong question,” Morrison quickly replied.

“Don’t you understand, that the people who do this thing, who practice racism, are bereft?” she continued, turning the question posed to her on its head. “There is something distorted about the psyche.”

“If you can only be tall because somebody is on their knees, then you have a serious problem,” she concluded. “My feeling is that white people have a very, very serious problem. And they should start thinking about what they can do about it. Take me out of it.”

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Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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