At age 88, Chloe Ardelia Wofford, known through the world and its universes as Toni Morrison, has passed away.
It feels right that this piece, that her passing, has happened during the month where we celebrate activism. Aside from James Baldwin, Nikki Giovanni, Dr. Angela Davis, and Maya Angelou, her writing had an elevation and a realness that enveloped me into the worlds that she created. One of my favorite quotes by her reads this way:
“The function of freedom is to free somebody else. “
It is with that fuel, that mindset, and intent that allows me to honor Toni Morrison on today. And everyday. Any day. There is, will ever be, a raw element to her fiction. It is language and situations that I, myself, have seen or heard of in my own family lore. But, it is her commitment to the voice and visibility that allows me to call her an activist. It is her body of work that allows me to take solace in her revolutionary nature.
In this time of mourning and reflection, I remember the April 2019 book review, The Source Of Self-Regard. This collection of her work is invaluable now. All her work seems precious, fragile and needed. It is a blessing to have her fiction, her interviews and essays. Yet, it is that oracle presence which I already miss. I already miss knowing her heart is beating somewhere in the world.
The thing that I will remember most is quote that deals with racism and justice:
“If you can only be tall, because somebody else is on their knees, then you have a serious problem.”
Here, on this platform, our job is to remind the world that some people are on their knees–and other people are keeping them there. From that wisdom, we can indeed help to free somebody else.
The Ideal Firestarter has surrendered to the air–so we can ride it.