Rest in perfect peace dear Toni: Toni Morrison 1931 – 2019

Just goes to show how it’s important to keep up with the news here in the UK. Fed up with politicians’ indecisiveness over Brexit or/and Trump’s refusal to accept how he is responsible for stoking up right-wing hatred towards people of colour and different faiths. So, I find myself these days reading books and TV. But today I decided that I should check out The Guardian newspaper online and click to see the cultural section and I see a photo of Toni Morrison’s face. It was just her face I saw but I was unable to see the caption under the photo. I repeatedly press the keys to scroll down but my laptop is so stupidly slow but eventually I get there and my worst suspicions are confirmed.  

I discovered Toni’s books some thirty-odd years ago, in a popular black book shop in Tottenham. The first one I read was Tar Baby. I must have fourteen when I got this book; I have to be honest and say that I didn’t understand the deeper meanings but I felt it spoke to me in a way other literature did not such as, hair straightening, skin colour (being light skin or dark-skinned) and the ‘friendships’ between black and whites – whether they could ever be real? Topics, which I experienced and wondered about, in my own young life.  I thought from the little I understood, how audacious it was and brave of Toni to write about our issues. Some years later I picked up the book again and just opened to a page and this was what I came across:

Gradually she came to feel unorphaned.

As short as this sentence is, not only is it complete but it says, so much more that you have to pause before you can continue.

Then I read The Bluest Eye.  Now, this did resonate with me. It was so beautiful in its brutal honesty; to have an inferiority complex imposed on you, when you didn’t ask for it. And how easy it is to be disassociated from yourself, to have no relationship with the actual you but instead live a fake existence just so that you can cope. A very moving and disturbing book in how she was able to say the unsayable with ease. Four years ago, I bought my daughter God Help the Child and she loved it, as she felt it was so pertinent to Black women and in particular to young Black women.

So, thank you, Toni, for all that you have done and helping to put the struggle out there and thanks, for being unapologetic because you have dedicated your talent and commitment to writing about Black people.  I know your soul will rest in perfect peace.