Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison reflects on literary racism in this powerful criticism.
Morrison points out the role of literary blackness as a tool to elevate whiteness. The ideals of what it is to be ‘American’ exist because of –and are elevated by– an ‘other’ (black) presence. This should make us question the characteristics of American literature and unveil the direct consequences of ideological and imperialistic ‘rationales’ for subjugation and racism. These so-called justifications actively conflict with the open-mindedness and educated mentality that modern society touts so highly, but does not practice.
No country or government has yet dared to confront these constructs of exclusion, which leads to the inevitable academic notion that racism is somehow ‘natural’. This is not true, just because racism is not addressed does not mean it is inherent, natural or acceptable. It is a tool to control, demean and dehumanize; a tool that Morrison exposes in the literary world.
Before you open your next novel, read Playing in the Dark. It is our duty to educate ourselves. If we don’t understand, we ask questions. Toni Morrison has provided an invaluable guide for those willing to inquire, reflect, and change.
Review by Joel
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