Black Women Who Slayed History: Toni Morrison
This Black History Month, we’re highlighting the black women who helped make our world what it is today. Today, we honor Toni Morrison.
Toni Morrison is a writer, editor, and all around literary boss.
She is best known for writing powerful African-American literature, or as I like to call it, just literature. The thing about her work is it’s relatable to everyone, even as it centers around racial oppression. She has written several critically acclaimed novels and was the first black woman to win a Nobel Prize of Literature.
Barack Obama, who is apparently one of her homies, awarded her the presidential medal of freedom in 2012. Her novel, Song of Solomon, was a paperback bestseller and won a National Book Critics Circle Award. Beloved won her a Pulitzer Prize. Despite Toni’s many accolades, both of those books were listed on the ALA top 100 most banned books from 1990-1999, along with The Bluest Eye. She is one of the most banned and challenged authors of color. She advocates against censorship, saying that the erasure of certain voices feels “as though a whole universe is being described in invisible ink.”
Her writing doesn’t feature white lead characters because she wants to provide a canon of black work. People have always criticized her for excluding white people but she keeps it pushing, saying, “In the same way that Tolstoy was not writing for me, a 14-year-old colored girl from Lorain, Ohio, I don’t have to apologize or consider myself limited because I don’t [write about white people].”
She started writing The Bluest Eye in the middle of the Black Is Beautiful movement which aimed to change the prevailing idea that blackness is automatically ugly. It was her first novel and it portrayed how damaging eurocentric beauty standards were to the self worth of black women. Her second novel, Sula, advanced the need for consistent black feminist critique. It featured female characters that were independent and defiant of gender norms. Basically, Toni Morrison’s books were intersectional and feminist before it was trendy.
She is a pro at brushing off haters, fiercely political, and furthers discussions about race and gender in this country to this day.
You can find out more on Toni Morrison here.
And for more black women who slayed history:
Black Women Who Slayed History: Diane Nash
Black Women Who Slayed History: Shirley Chisholm
Black Women Who Slayed History: Ida B. Wells