The Underground Railroad (Colson Whitehead)

“Patrol was not difficult work. They stopped any niggers they saw and demanded their passes. They stopped niggers they knew to be free, for their amusement but also to remind the Africans of the forces arrayed against them, whether they were owned by a white man or not. Made the rounds of the slave villages in search of anything amiss, a smile or a book. They flogged the wayward niggers before bringing them to jail, or directly to their owner if they were in the mood and it was not too close to quitting time…

“If niggers were supposed to have their freedom, they wouldn’t be in chains. If the red man was supposed to keep hold of his land, it’d still be his. If the white man wasn’t destined to take this new world, he wouldn’t own it now.

“Here was the true Great Spirit, the divine thread connecting all human endeavor— if you can keep it it is yours. Your property, slave or continent. The American imperative.”