Bill Duke Says Never Give Up On Yourself
Film Courage: I know you’re writing your autobiography. So I’m going to steal a question I heard on C-SPAN. I just finished watching THE POST movie and they interviewed Katharine Graham years ago. She wrote a tell-all book about THE POST and her family and the troubles with her husband and his depression (things like that). And the interviewer said to her “Why do you want people to know this?” She said “Good question. I started [writing] and I was only going to tell one thing and I just kept going. I couldn’t stop.”
Bill Duke, Actor/Filmmaker/Author: I’m writing this book for all the losers in the world. For all the people who have been told you cannot do it, you’re a loser, you’re too stupid, you’re too ugly, you’re too dumb or too black. You’re too whatever. You’re never going to make it. I’ve been called all those things and worse.
I’m writing this book because I want children who are going through similar things to never give up on themselves. If I can get through it so can you.
Never…never…whether you are five or 100, never give up. It’s never too late. You determine your reality. Are there forces that help shape the context around you? Of course there are. I mean…but what is your responsibility? Because the boogeyman is bigger than you, you don’t fight back? You don’t do nothing? You don’t bite his toe? You don’t do nothing? You just talk about the size of the boogeyman, how long he’s been on your neck? The color of the boogeyman, the boogeyman system, how can I say? The odor of his breath? You can describe every aspect of the boogeyman for the rest of your damn life or you can bite his toe.
Now you ain’t going to kill him if you bite his toe, but toes are sensitive. There’s going to be some movement. All you need is a little bit…a little bit…but you’re not going to bite? That’s your definition of your possibilities in life. “I can’t bite because the boogeyman is so big and I’m so weak…goodbye.” Sorry. Not me. Not me. Never.
You’ve got to have my guess a couple of bullets, they better hit something that is vital because they can remove them and I’m coming back. Never give up. Never. And as my family used to say to the people who try to stop you and put you down, there is only one phrase that they deserve and that is this: “I ain’t as dumb as you look. I ain’t as damn dumb as you look. We can keep talking but I want you to know something, I ain’t as dumb as you look.”
You know it’s interesting, once they see that they know you are not playing checkers in a chess game. You are playing chess. As long as we’re both playing chess, let’s play. I got some damn moves too. Let’s just play. Don’t tell me how good a checker player I am. That’s how I feel.