African-American Proverbs

Sayings of African American origin

In the south they don’t care how close you get, as long as you don’t get too high. In the north, they don’t care how high you get, as long as you don’t get too close.

One monkey don’t stop no show!

Black people must stop acting like crabs in a barrel and work together.

A heard head makes a soft behind.

Burning the candle at both ends.

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen

Count your blessings, not your problems.

Don’t beat a dead dog.

Do or die.

God does not bless mess.

Better safe than sorry.

If you ask a Negro where he’s been, he’ll tell you where he’s going.

Going to be a cold day in hell.

Love don’t love nobody.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Eat drink and be merry.

Old Satan couldn’t get along without plenty of help.

All that glitters is not gold.

Be careful what you wish for you might get it.

Life is short and full of blisters.

A hit dog will hollow.

Knock on wood.

A stitch in time saves nine.

Mama’s baby…Papa’s maybe.

Black sheep of the family.

Go with the flow.

A penny saved is a penny earned.

Do as I say and not as I do.

Couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn.

Afro American Proverb

African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans are an ethnic group of Americans (citizens or residents of the United States) with total or partial ancestry from any of the black racial groups of Africa. The term may also be used to include only those individuals who are descended from enslaved Africans. As a compound adjective the term is usually hyphenated as African-American.

Black and African Americans constitute the third largest racial and ethnic group in the United States (after White Americans and Hispanic and Latino Americans). Most African Americans are of West and Central African descent and are descendants of enslaved peoples within the boundaries of the present United States. On average, African Americans are of 73.2%-80.9% West African, 18.2%-24% European, and 0.8%-0.94% Native American heritage, with large variation between individuals. According to US Census Bureau data, African immigrants generally do not self-identify as African American. The overwhelming majority of African immigrants identify instead with their own respective ethnicities (~95%). Immigrants from some Caribbean, Central American and South American nations and their descendants may or may not also self-identify with the term. (An excerpt from Wikipedia)

More Afro-American Proverbs

Doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

The pot can’t call the kettle black.

Eat your heart out.

Be that as it may.

Easy come easy go.

Girl, have several seats.

A rolling stone gathers no moss.

Day late and a dollar short.

Family must look out for family.

The fruit don’t fall too far from the tree.

The more you cry the less you pis.

God makes three requests of his children: Do the best you can, where you are, with what you have, now.

Tell me whom you love, and I’ll tell you who you are.

A man who does not respect his own mother is absolutely no good.

You’ve got to work twice as hard to get half as far as a Black person in white America.

A wise man listens to his own conscience.

Money talks – everything else walks.

Blind in one eye and can’t see out of the other.

Can’t live with them and can’t live without them.

Blood is thicker than water.

Dead as a doornail.

A liar will steal and a thief will kill

Caught between a rock and a hard place.

If you can’t beat them join them.

Go for broke.

Mothers raise their daughters and let their sons grow up.

Calm before the storm.

If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

Can’t see the forest for the trees.

A empty wagon makes a lot of noise.

Cold hands – warm heart.

Now, if you knew that homework like you know those song lyrics, you would get straight A’s.

Don’t beat around the bush.

Beauty is only skin deep.

Beware of burning your bridges when you cross them.

Mama don’t play!

Doesn’t have two nickels to rub together.

Go whole hog wild.

Dig your own grave.

Clothes don’t make the man.

If you’ll lie you’ll steal and if you’ll steal you’ll kill.

A watched pot will never boil.

Dead men tells no tales.

We ain’t what we want to be; we ain’t what we gonna be; but thank God, we ain’t what we was.

God helps those who help themselves.

I can’t make head or tails of it.

The blacker the berry the sweet the juice.

God moves in mysterious ways.

Experience is the best teacher.

It takes a heap of licks to strike a nail in the dark.

Couldn’t carry a tune in a bushel basket.

God can do anything but fail.

If you want to keep something secret from black folks, put it between the covers of a book.

The very time I thought I was lost, my dungeon shook and my chains fell off.

When I get on you I am going to pay you for old and new.

You better go on somewhere with that!

Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.

A little bird told me.

Don’t bite off more that you can chew.

I have eyes in the back of my head.

I brought you in this world and I will take you out.

Once you go Black, you never go back.

Jealous? Hate the game and not the player.

If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything.

What you do in the dark, will come to the light.

All poor people ain’t black/ and all black people ain’t poor.

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

Enough is enough.

Break a mirror and you will have seven years bad luck.

Don’t burn your bridges.

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Comments: 3
  1. Stephen (author)

    I am glad someone compiled this list-it brought back a lot of memories growing up in the South.

    The spelling used and formal structure of some of the ‘proverbs’ makes me guess that it was put together by someone who’s not Black. Not a criticism, just an observation.

    1. Aron (author)

      Interesting that you would write, “The spelling used and formal structure of some of the ‘proverbs’ makes me guess that it was put together by someone who’s not Black. Not a criticism, just an observation.” Sigh!

      I’m originally from the Deep South (i.e, Florence, SC), and Black people were writing grammatically correct sentences for centuries. Indeed, we both know that many of the above were voiced incorrectly (or shall we say with broken English, perhaps, Gullah would ring a bell). :|

  2. Denise (author)

    Thanks for listing the African-American Proverbs! They brought back so many precious memories.

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