38 Shelby Steele Quotes

Shachi Jain
Jun 15, 2023 By Shachi Jain
Originally Published on Feb 28, 2023
Edited by Shadiya Ahammad
Fact-checked by Aanchal Padmavat
Tony Dungy at the AIA 2017 Bart Starr Award Super Bowl Breakfast

Read on for Shelby Steele's quotes.

Shelby Steele is a writer, journalist, and documentarian.

He graduated from Coe College with a B.A. in political science, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with an M.A. in sociology, and the University of Utah with a doctorate in English.

His areas of expertise include race injustice and affirmative action. He views himself as an individual, which has enabled him to develop his own viewpoint and comprehension of these subjects rather than only adhering to the story.

Scroll the page to read a few quotes and sayings by him.

Quotes By Shelby Steele

Read on for Shelby Steele's quotes that will make you ponder.

"Hatred is a transformative power. It can make the innocuous into the menacing."

"Freedom always carries a burden of proof, always throws us back on ourselves."

"A Black conservative is a Black who dissents from the victimization explanation of Black fate."

"If you are a minority, it is important that you have legal ways to defend yourself in the society in which you live."

-February 27, 2008, The Why Obama Can’t Win Interview.

"I know personally that being a conservative minority is a test of character. Identity, after all, is an integral and cherished part of the self."

"We are a nation with a powerful investment in the idea of our own fundamental innocence. Our can-do optimism and ingenuity are based on the faith that we are decent, open, and generous people. This is our identity."

“It is time for Blacks to begin the shift from a wartime to a peacetime identity, from fighting for the opportunity to the seizing of it.”

Shelby Steele quotes from Shame: How America's Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country

Read on for quotes from Shame: How America's Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country

"It was the first truly profound strategic mistake we made in our long struggle for complete equality. It made us a “contingent people” whose fate depended on what others did for us."

"Despite all he had endured as a black in the South in the first half of the twentieth century, he taught the boys that America was rich in opportunities for blacks if they were willing to work."

"The problem is that this “place” is in the past. And it does no good to adapt to a past that is only an echo now. There is no refuge there."

"However, by relegating The Good to the government, and making it a matter of public policy, we transformed it from an earnest and personal moral struggle into a glib cultural symbolism."

"Virtually all these “good” reforms failed and mired us in all manner of unintended consequences."

"Conservatives suddenly saw that they needed to contest liberalism’s capture of the political and cultural establishment."

"White guilt was now a greater problem for minorities than white racism. He wanted to reassure them that blacks."

"Poetic truths defend the sovereignty of one’s ideological identity by taking license with reality and fact. They work by moral intimidation rather than by reason so that even to question them is heresy."

"You will be far more likely to receive racial preferences than to suffer racial discrimination."

"The new liberalism that emerged in the 1960s actually coveted responsibility for black problems—or at least the illusion of responsibility—because there was so much moral and political power in the idea of delivering blacks from their tragic past."

"Thus, in a culture won over by dissociation, conservatism seems to be an association with America’s evil past."

"Diversity is about dissociation and legitimacy for American institutions, not the development of former victims."

"It left us pleading with the government, not for freedom, which we had already won, but for 'programs' and 'preferences' that would be a ladder to full equality."

"The leverage we gained by relying on America’s sense of fallenness came at the price of taking on and then living with, an identity of grievance and entitlement."

"It was far more a cultivated ignorance of America’s sins than the innocence of them, and this ignorance was helped along by a culturally embedded pattern of rationalizations, bigotries, stereotypes, and lies."

"When I called him a racist, I shocked him with what was then still a novel idea in race relations: that racism thrived by passing itself off as a kind of decency, a noblesse oblige."

"The victim of oppression is always, and understandably, startled and resentful of the anxieties and burdens that new freedom entails—its call to greater responsibility, discipline, and sacrifice. But there it is."

"As the formerly oppressed move into greater and greater freedom, they are often more wedded to the idea of themselves as oppressed than to the reality that they are freer than ever."

Shelby Steele quotes from White Guilt

Read on for White Guilt quotes.

"For a black leader in the age of white guilt, the problem was how to seize all they could get from white guilt without having to show actual events of racism. Global racism was the answer. With it, the smallest racial incident proved the “global truth” of systemic racism."

"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years."

"The fact is that we blacks are free."

"It was slavish to think that black advancement was somehow dependent on the good offices of a white man without half the gravitas of black leaders like King or James Farmer or Malcolm X."

"The American democracy simply could not move forward after the civil rights era without adding to its great democratic principles an explicit social morality based on the insight that racism is immoral."

"It is also the formula that keeps black America underdeveloped even as we enjoy new freedom and proliferation of opportunity. No worse fate could befall a group emerging from oppression than to find itself gripped by a militancy that sees justice in making others responsible for its advancement."

"One of the delights of Marxian-tinged ideas for the young is the unearned sense of superiority they grant."

"The most striking irony of the age of white guilt is that racism suddenly became valuable to the people who had suffered it."

"White racism had made my race the limit of my individuality. But now the new black consciousness I was learning from people like Gregory wanted me to voluntarily, even proudly, do the same thing that racism had done: make my race more important than my individuality."

"Respected for their talent rather than endured for their color and that they would be read by all our students on a regular basis."

"Was largely a response to white guilt. This guilt is the vacuum in moral authority created by all of white America’s moral failings and infidelities to democracy: racism, sexism, imperialism, materialism, conformity, environmental indifference, educational inequality, superficiality, greed, and so on."

"By the night of my encounter with Dick Gregory, the goal of the civil rights movement had escalated from a simple demand for equal rights to a demand for the redistribution of responsibility for black advancement from black to white America, from the 'victims' to the 'guilty'."

"To be a proud and militant black after the sixties, you screamed black power in order to induce the application of white power."

"This power to shame, silence, and muscle concessions from the larger society on the basis of past victimization became the new 'black power'."

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Written by Shachi Jain

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Computers

Shachi Jain picture

Shachi JainBachelor of Commerce specializing in Computers

With a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from KML Vatsalya College, Vidisha, and over a year of experience as a content writer, Shachi has developed a strong skillset in creating SEO-optimized content in areas such as healthcare, technology, and digital marketing. Along with her work experience, Sachi has also completed courses like Google Digital Garage's Fundamentals of Digital Marketing and Content Writing Secrets from Udemy, demonstrating her passion for learning and self-improvement.

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Fact-checked by Aanchal Padmavat

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Computer Science

Aanchal Padmavat picture

Aanchal PadmavatBachelor of Engineering specializing in Computer Science

Aanchal is a skilled content writer and digital marketer with a passion for creating engaging content in travel, education, digital marketing, and branding. With a bachelor's Computer Science from SKNCOE from, she brings an analytical and creative approach to her work and is dedicated to delivering high-quality content that resonates with audiences. Aanchal is also well-versed in social media and digital marketing and uses her expertise to create compelling content that drives engagement and builds brand awareness. In her free time, she enjoys reading and spending time with loved ones.

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