The October 2005 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

The Aristocracy and the Disaster

In Katrina's Wake, Oakland Batters Homeless

A Perfect Storm of Racism

Katrina: Ongoing Human Disaster

FCNL Speaks Out on Katrina

Kerry's Kids: Health Care for Poor Children

Fresh Start Gives Kindness Awards

The Dying Gift of Sharon Ostman

A 500-Year-Old War on the Poor

37 Million Live in Poverty in US

Julia Vinograd: Poet Laureate of Berkeley Streets

Innovative Plans for Homeless Housing

Disabled Woman on a Long Road Back Home

Photographer's Eye for the Dignity of People

Poor Leonard On Prejudice

The Flower Lady

October Poetry of the Streets


September 2005

August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 2005

February 2005

Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

All works are copyrighted by the authors.

The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.

Poor Leonard's Almanack

Quotations and original thoughts by Leonard Roy Frank

Street Spirit, October 2005


1. It comes as a great shock to see Gary Cooper killing off the Indians and, although you are rooting for Gary Cooper, [realizing] that the Indians are you.
JAMES BALDWIN (writer), recalling his youth in Harlem, speech at the Cambridge Union, Cambridge University (England), 17 February 1965

2. Racism is the dogma that one ethnic group is condemned by nature to congenital inferiority and another group is destined to congenital superiority.
RUTH BENEDICT (anthropologist), Race: Science and Politics, 1940

3. Few things have done more harm than the belief on the part of individuals or groups (or tribes or states or nations or churches) that he or she or they are in sole possession of the truth: especially about how to live, what to be and do -- and that those who differ from them are not merely mistaken, but wicked or mad: and need restraining or suppressing.
ISAIAH BERLIN (Latvian-born British philosopher), letter to a friend, 1987, "Notes on Prejudice," New York Review of Books, 18 October 2001

4. The enemy is brownness and whiteness, maleness and femaleness. The enemy is our urgent need to stereotype and close off people, places, and events into isolated categories. Hatred, distrust, irresponsibility, unloving, classism, sexism, and racism, in their myriad forms, cloud our vision and isolate us.... We close off avenues of communication and vision so that individual and communal trust, responsibility, loving, and knowing are impossible.
ANDREA CANAAN (poet and writer), "Brownness," quoted in Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua, editors, This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, 1981

5. He finds his fellow guilty of a skin
Not colored like his own.
WILLIAM COWPER (English poet), "The Task," 1785

6. To live in poverty is to live with constant uncertainty, to accept galling indignities, and to expect harassment by the police, welfare officials, and employers, as well as by others who are poor and desperate.
BARBARA EHRENREICH (writer), Fear of Falling: The Inner Life of the Middle Class, 1990

7. Ours is a society that routinely generates destitution -- and then, perversely, relieves its conscience by vilifying the destitute.
BARBARA EHRENREICH, reviewing Kenneth L. Kusmer's Down and Out, On the Road: The Homeless in American History, "Hobo Heaven," New York Times Book Review, 20 January 2002

8. The more cruel the wrong that men commit against an individual or a people, the deeper their hatred and contempt for their victim.
ALBERT EINSTEIN, statement read at the unveiling of the Memorial for the Battle of the Warsaw Ghetto, Warsaw, 19 April 1948, Out of My Later Years, revised edition, 1956

9. I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally.
W. C. FIELDS (comedian, 1880-1946), in Jerome Beatty Jr., "Trade Winds," Saturday Review, 28 January 1967

10. He flattered himself on being a man without any prejudices; and this pretension itself is a very great prejudice.
ANATOLE FRANCE (French writer), The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard, 1881

11. You've got to be taught
before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate.
You've got to be carefully taught.
OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II (lyricist), "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught," in South Pacific, 1949

12. If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us.
HERMANN HESSE (German writer), Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair's Youth, 1919

13. There is a tendency to judge a race, a nation or any distinct group by its least worthy members.
ERIC HOFFER (San Francisco longshoreman and writer), The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, 1951

14. To wrong those we hate is to add fuel to our hatred. Conversely, to treat an enemy with magnanimity is to blunt our hatred for him.
ERIC HOFFER, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, 1951

15. Of all the illusions that beset mankind none is quite so curious as [the] tendency to suppose that we are mentally and morally superior to those who differ from us in opinion.
ELBERT HUBBARD (writer and editor, 1856-1915), quoted in Laurence J. Peter, Peter's People, 1979

16. If people are informed, they will do the right thing. It's when they are not informed that they become hostages to prejudice.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT (broadcast journalist), quoted in Brian Lanker, "Charlayne Hunter-Gault," I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America, 1989

17. A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
WILLIAM JAMES (physician, psychologist and philosopher, 1842-1910), attributed, quoted in Evan Esar, editor, The Dictionary of Humorous Quotations, 1949

18. If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you.
LYNDON B. JOHNSON, 1960, remark to Bill Moyers, "What a Real President Was Like," Washington Post, 13 November 1988

19. Insanity and psychosis can no longer be respected as meaningful [terms] -- but are used by limited individuals in positions of social power to describe ways of behaving and thinking that are alien, threatening, and obscure to them.
SEYMOUR KRIM (writer and psychiatric survivor), "The Insanity Bit," 1959, Views of a Nearsighted Cannoneer, 1961

20. Institutionalized rejections of differences is an absolute necessity in a profit economy which needs outsiders as surplus people. As members of such an economy, we have all been programmed to respond to the human differences between us with fear and loathing and to handle that difference in one of three ways: ignore it, and if that is not possible, copy it if we think it is dominant, or destroy it if we think it is subordinate.
AUDRE LORDE (writer), Sister Outsider, 1984

21. [English law in 1572 decreed that] beggars above 14 years of age are to be severely flogged and branded on the left ear unless some one will take them into service for two years; in case of a repetition of the offense, if they are over 18, they are to be executed, unless some one will take them into service for two years; but for the third offence they are to be executed without mercy as felons.
KARL MARX, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, 1867

22. It is not only our hatred of others that is dangerous but also and above all our hatred of ourselves: particularly that hatred of ourselves which is too deep and too powerful to be consciously faced. For it is this which makes us see our own evil in others and unable to see it in ourselves.
THOMAS MERTON (monk and writer), New Seeds of Contemplation, 1961

23. The indifference, callousness and contempt that so many people exhibit toward animals is evil first because it results in great suffering in animals, and second because it results in an incalculably great impoverishment of human spirit.
ASHLEY MONTAGU (English anthropologist), Of Man, Animals and Morals, 1974

24. Remember, when the judgment's weak,
The prejudice is strong.
KANE O'HARA (Irish playwright), Midas, 1766

25. Prejudice will fall in a combat with interest.
THOMAS PAINE (English-born U.S. political philosopher), The Rights of Man, 1792

26. Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination.

Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.
ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, United Nations speech, New York City, 27 March 1958

27. To be out of harmony with one's surroundings is of course a misfortune, but it is not always a misfortune to be avoided at all costs. Where the environment is stupid or prejudiced or cruel, it is a sign of merit to be out of harmony with it.
BERTRAND RUSSELL (English philosopher), The Conquest of Happiness, 1930

28. Who can describe the injustice and the cruelties that in the course of centuries [the peoples of color of the world] have suffered at the hands of Europeans?... We and our civilization are burdened, really, with a great debt. We are not free to confer benefits on these men, or not, as we please; it is our duty. Anything we give them is not benevolence but atonement.
ALBERT SCHWEITZER (German physician and philosopher), On the Edge of the Primeval Forest: The Experiences and Observations of a Doctor in Equatorial Africa, 1922

29. [Our prejudices are] so deeply rooted that we never think of them as prejudices but call them common sense.
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW (Irish playwright), The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism, 1928

30. [The prejudice against color and against women] is produced by the same cause, and manifested very much in the same way. The Negro's skin and the woman's sex are both prima facie evidence that they were intended to be in subjection to the white Saxon man.
ELIZABETH CADY STANTON (feminist leader), speech before the New York State Legislature, 18 February 1860

31. The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn. We are filled with the popular wisdom of several centuries just past, and we are terrified to give it up. Patriotism means obedience, age means wisdom, woman means submission, black means inferior: these are preconceptions imbedded so deeply in our thinking that we honestly may not know that they are there.
GLORIA STEINEM (feminist leader and writer), "The First Problem for All of Us, Men and Women, Is to Unlearn," New York Times, 26 August 1971

32. Most people wish to be consoled, confirmed. They want their prejudices reinforced and their structured belief systems validated. After all, it hurts to think, and it's absolute agony to think twice.
JENNIFER STONE (writer and KPFA commentator), "Epilogue," Mind Over Media, 1988

33. Caucasian-American combat soldier: "And what would you do with Hitler?"
African-American combat soldier: "I would have made him a Negro and dropped him somewhere in the USA."
ARTHUR SZYK, cartoon caption, 1944, reprinted in Pierce Butler, "Artistic Champion of Freedom: Portrait of a Master Illustrator," Perceptions, May-June 1996

34. It is never too late to give up your prejudices.
HENRY DAVID THOREAU, "Economy," Walden; or Life in the Woods, 1854


Leonard Roy Frank is the editor of Random House Webster's Quotationary (20,000-plus quotes on 1,000-plus subjects). His "Frankly Quoted" column, distributed freely over the Internet every month, consists of 30-35 quotes and original thoughts, mostly about current events. To get on the "Frankly Quoted" listserve, send your e-mail address.

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