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Sat Aug 17, 2019, 12:43 PM

Toni Morrison and What Our Mothers Couldn't Say

Luckily for me, my mom had me, her first child at 18 and was not worn out as the author says of her mom. "We grew up together," my mom said to me throughout her life. We grew up as girlfriends. But the delineation of who was mother was present - she made sure of that early on And that's the impression Prof. Morrison always conveyed to me. This good piece devoted to Ms. Morrison and who I think are Morrison Moms, whether aunties or just women who just happen upon us, the descriptive fortunate doesn't even come close to the bold and fiercely loving mothers who we have in our lives.

My mourning mind, compromised and searching for coincidence, processes the age Toni Morrison was when she died, eighty-eight, as two infinity signs, straightened and snatched right-side up. If we are Morrison-fearing, as some others are with their icons, well, we were socialized by her novels. What an experience, to be mothered on one plane by our Beloved. It’s a plane that occupies the thorny reserve of memory. One thing about being a black girl is, by the time you come around, and your body awakens to feeling historically out of sorts, the matriarchs have been worn out. Their patience to “do language” has dried up. You have been born late to the mystery. Catch up, but how? Morrison motioned to us and got us up to date.

For years, it went on like this: I would become withdrawn, and my mother would hand me “Sula,” then “Jazz,” then “Beloved.” My early readings of the novels were hungry misuses. Her novels were the boundary between herself and her readers, an instrument of intellectual self-protection, but we violated the boundary, almost deliriously. By the time I was reading Morrison, the novel had allegedly lost its status as an influential factor in the making of society. We didn’t know that. Morrison was our celebrity; it was only right that she appear on “Oprah.” We were poor in imagination, trained to think of our histories as sociological math. Morrison invalidated the lie, which taints black minds especially, that our people are either one way or the other. To her, we were naturally literary and epic. I got inebriated on the image of Pecola Breedlove, who “was a long time with the milk,” soused by a community’s predilection for a certain kind of beauty. The ghost in “Beloved,” swelling as she threatened to overcome the spiteful home at 124 Bluestone Road, made us think gothically. I wanted to build a retreat in the woods, like Denver. I thought that I was destined, one day, to become a Sula Peace, leaving home, and returning under the shelter of a great hat, carting havoc just under my breast.

In a foreword to “Sula,” Morrison wrote, “Outlaw women are fascinating—not always for their behavior, but because historically women are seen as naturally disruptive and their status is an illegal one from birth if it is not under the rule of men.” It is too seldom acknowledged that the greatest novelist this country has ever produced was a single black mother. She had two sons, one who passed before she did, and how many daughters? We know that it is problematic, or maybe just self-indulgent, to claim her as mother. And yet, if the business of mothering is to broker the link between two generations, then what else can she be?


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Kind of Blue Aug 17 OP
brer cat Aug 17 #1
Kind of Blue Aug 17 #2

Response to Kind of Blue (Original post)

Sat Aug 17, 2019, 03:17 PM

1. Very interesting read.

Thanks for posting, Kind of Blue.

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Response to brer cat (Reply #1)

Sat Aug 17, 2019, 08:01 PM

2. And thank you for reading it, brer cat.

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