Note: She and Audre Lorde have the same birthday. I double checked. February 18.
“I knew then that words had power.” -Toni Morrison
I miss Toni Morrison like I miss my maternal grandmother. She was a pillar, strength, resolve and the reminder that I am stronger that what I thought. In realizing that as of last week, Toni would have been 90, I miss her. I mean, I truly miss her. I find myself pour over her work with new eyes! My professor/mentor Dr. Kimberly Welch told me that I needed to go to graduate school. Now, before COVID-19, I had planned on it! And the MFA is yet loading.
But using the sentence “Toni Morrison is dead” still bitter. It still tastes funny. Like something that has lost all savor, all heat–using salt instead of sugar. There is something wrong with this! But yet there is a justice to it, isn’t there? Chloe Anthony Wofford Morrison is the woman that introduced Angela Davis to the world! There is a justice the world having to pause for a Black woman whose words helped to shape the women that would come behind her! In the film Pieces I Am, looking regal and smoking, she talks. And I broke in half. I cried like my grandmother had died all over again, and my grandmother has been gone for twice as long.
No, you don’t have to be a writer to mourn Toni. No, you don’t have to be a Black woman to mourn Toni. You don’t have to be Black to mourn her! The fact remains that her work–was for us. These stories, were for US! And she wrote for US! And the world had to catch up–just like the world still is catching up to Mother Lorde.
As a daughter, mother, sister, wife, lover, I am grateful for her on a soul level. At that place, in that place, I knew that someone that looked like me, saw me, and for that sight–wrote it down. The author of For Colored Girls (Ntozake Shange–her name translates to ‘she who walks with lions’), said this about writing as a Black woman:
Toni, like Audre, like Ngtozake, wrote for us–to have a lamp, warnings, reminders and love. They wrote for us so that we who are alive an remain won’t die on our journey. For that, in that, I am thankful.
Book List (all on Amazon/Kindle (this is not an exhaustive list)):
The Bluest Eye
The Source of Self-Regard