"This is the mythography of America, progressive, where you have this idea that everything moves upward, and people are always on this journey to improvement. So, “How did you make it?” Listen, this is very important to understand, I don’t speak the language of “make it.” Our moment, in late capital, has no problems, through its contradictions, occasionally granting someone ridiculous moments of privilege, but that’s not what matters. In other words, we can elect Obama, but what does that say about the fate of the African-American community? We have no problem in this country rewarding individuals of color momentarily as a way never to address the structural cannibalistic inequalities that are faced by the communities these people come out of.

"I don’t think we can safely say just because someone has some sort of visible markers of success that in any way they have avoided any of the dysfunctions. That is the kind of Chaucerian, weird physiognomy-as-moral-status. We don’t know anything about anybody. Yes, I have made a certain level of status as an artist and as a writer, but what I am reminded of most acutely is not of my “awesomeness,” or some sort of will to power that has led me through the jungle. What I am aware of, being here, is that I am representative of a structural exclusion.

"We accept too much at face value these ideologies of transcendence… I just knew, from everything that I saw, that there is no transcending the human experience. You’ve got to realize that most of us feel permanently displaced and savagely undone. Most of us try everything we can to manage our fears and our insecurities. Most of us are profoundly inhuman to ourselves and other people, and that makes us no less valuable, and no less worthy of attention and love. I didn’t transcend all this stuff, you just got to live with [it], man, and there’s nothing like trying to run away from all that stuff to guarantee its supremacy… The transcendence myth will just do you in, in the long run.

— Junot Díaz, Upstairs at the Strand