“The trouble with our people is as soon as they got out of slavery they didn’t want to give the white man nothing else. But the fact is, you got to give em something. Either your money, your land, your woman or your ass” — Alice Walker
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In this quote, Alice Walker seems to be critiquing the mindset of some African Americans after gaining freedom from slavery. When she says “as soon as they got out of slavery they didn’t want to give the white man nothing else,” she’s referring to the desire to be fully independent and self-sufficient after so long being oppressed.
However, Walker notes that in reality “you got to give em something” – meaning it was difficult to avoid continued exploitation by white people, who would take African Americans’ “money, land, woman or ass” through things like unequal economic systems, land seizures, racism and violence (including lynching and rape).
The quote suggests Walker believes true liberation and equality had not yet been achieved after slavery’s legal end, and black communities remained vulnerable to having their livelihood and dignity stripped away by the dominant white class.