This is a favorite quote of mine from a character out of a book I read a while back, but it has always stuck with me. The central character, Milkman (that’s what he’s called by, stemming from the fact that as a child it was well known that he was breast fed way longer than what might be deemed normal), and some of his friends are being lectured by the Reverend Cooper, set back in the early 1900’s or maybe late 1800’s. I cannot recall which. Its been a while since I’ve read the book, but its a good motivational speech to start out a year. Listen closely…

“You see?…See? See what a man can do? Never mind you can’t tell one letter from another, never mind you born a slave, never mind you lose your name, never mind your daddy dead, never mind nothing.”

“Here… this here is what a man can do if he puts his mind to it and his back in it. Stop sniveling! Stop picking around the edges of this world. Take advantage, and if you can’t take advantage, take disadvantage! We live here. On this planet, this nation, in this country right here. Nobody starving in my home; nobody crying in my home, and if I got a home, you got one too! Grab it! Grab this land! Take it, hold it, my brothers, make it, my brothers, shake it, squeeze it, turn it, twist it, beat it, kick it, kiss it, whip it, stomp it, dig it, plow it, seed it, reap it, rent it, buy it, sell it, own it, build it, multiply it, and pass it on — can you hear me? Pass it on!”

–Reverend Cooper talking to Milkman and some friends in Toni Morrison‘s book,”Song of Solomon