When Toni Morrison talks about Black matters, she is referring to the lived experiences of Black people. These experiences are often shaped by racism and oppression, but they are also filled with joy, love, and resistance. Black matters because Black lives matter. We matter because we are human beings who deserve to be respected and valued.
Toni Morrison is one of the most important voices in the Black Lives Matter movement. She is a writer, editor, and professor who has dedicated her life to fighting for justice. In her work, she lifts up the stories of Black people that have been largely ignored by society. She gives voice to the pain and suffering of Black people, but also celebrates our strength and resilience.
In Black Matters, Toni Morrison explores “knowledge” and how it appears to have a Eurocentric bias. The standard literature that is “unshaped by the four-hundred-year-old presence of the first Africans and then African-Americans in the United States” (Morrison 310) is what she refers to as “knowledge.” She also discusses how African Americans are treated in today’s society, including with “racial talk” (311). Consequently, Morrison urges for the embrace of blackness in addition to the acknowledgement of a different type of knowledge that Black people possess.
Morrison begins Black Matters by discussing how “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” (307). She is referencing a quote by Audre Lorde which argues that in order to create change, you cannot use the same methods of violence and hatred that caused the problem in the first place. Morrison expands on this idea by stating that “black people have been used as raw material for art long enough” (307). In other words, African Americans have been exploited by society and it is time for that exploitation to end.
Morrison then goes on to discuss how “the knowledge” that is revered by society is actually Eurocentric. This type of knowledge completely ignores the contributions of Black people throughout history. Morrison argues that this is due to the fact that Black people have been “systematically denied entrance into the discourse of power and meaning” (310). In other words, Black people have been shut out of the conversation for so long that their contributions have been forgotten.
Morrison then goes on to discuss how Black people are currently treated in society. She states that there is a “racial discourse” which currently exists in society (311). This racial discourse is characterized by the ignoring of matters of race. Morrison argues that this is dangerous because it leads to the erasure of Black people from society.
She states that “the ignoring of race is a form of racism” (311). In other words, by pretending that race doesn’t exist, society is actually perpetuating racism. Morrison urges for the embrace of Blackness in order to combat this issue. She argues that Black people should be proud of their culture and history. Additionally, she argues that Black people should “reclaim their identity” (312). In other words, Black people should take pride in who they are and where they come from.
Morrison ends Black Matters by urging for the acknowledgement of a different type of knowledge that Black people possess. She states that Black people have a “different kind of knowing” (313). This type of knowing is characterized by intuition and experience.
Morrison argues that this type of knowledge is just as valid as the Eurocentric knowledge that is currently revered by society. She urges for the acknowledgement of this type of knowledge in order to create change. In conclusion, Toni Morrison Black Matters discusses “knowledge” and how it seems to take on a Eurocentric standpoint.
Why does the majority of instructors (K-12) only include African American literature (writers) in February, when there is so much other great material to teach? Is it because February is Black History month? As a kid, I learned and read about the black experience either at home or just during February. As a result, I always perceived whites as the standard for literature in schools curriculum. Morrison also demonstrates that American writing considers the black experience insignificant and irrelevant. Morrison’s Black Matters exposes how the black experience has been silenced and unacknowledged throughout history.
One of the main points that Morrison gets across in Black Matters is that the black experience has always been seen as unimportant and not worth paying attention to. This is something that I definitely experienced while growing up. In school, we would learn about white authors and their works, but when it came to black authors, it was always just a brief mention during Black History Month. Even now, as an adult, I find myself having to go out of my way to find works by black authors because they are not readily available in stores or libraries.
Morrison also talks about how the black experience has been portrayed in American literature. She says that it has always been shown as either tragic or comic, but never as complex and multi-faceted. This is something that I definitely see in the media today. Black characters are often portrayed as either criminals or stereotypes, and their stories are rarely given the same attention or depth as those of white characters.
Overall, Black Matters is a powerful book that exposes the ways in which the black experience has been silenced and unacknowledged throughout history. It is eye-opening and important read for anyone who wants to understand the experiences of black Americans.
In the context of the canons, Morrison notes that American literature is “written in a way that Africans and their descendants are there in no sense that matters” (312). This quote was utilized by Faulkner in his story “A Rose for Emily,” as “the Negro servant” Tobe. Although he is a character in the narrative, the reference to him is as “a doddering Negro man to wait on her… His voice had become harsh and rusted, probably from disuse, when he spoke to no one” (Faulkner 77).
Faulkner does this by Tobe’s description; he is old, rusty and doddering. A “Rose for Emily” takes place in the deep south during a time of slavery and post-slavery. At this time, blacks were not considered human beings and their only purpose was to serve whites.
In addition, after reading “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe, it is clear that Poe uses the cat as a symbol for African Americans. The narrator states, “I had no affection for the beast… I resolved to kill it” (Poe 1). By using the words “beast” and “it,” Poe is showing that he believes blacks are not on the same level as whites, and are not even considered human. Furthermore, in “The Black Cat” the narrator also states, “I took from his neck the noose I had myself so often cast there” (Poe 8).
The noose is a symbol of hate and violence towards African Americans. It is clear that Poe uses the cat as a metaphor for blacks, and does not see them as equal to whites. To conclude, through my research I have found that Toni Morrison is correct in her statement about how American literature depicts blacks. In both “A Rose for Emily” and “The Black Cat,” Faulkner and Poe show the African-American experience as val