We lost Toni Morrison. A woman who understood humanity like no other. I remember, years ago, in the infancy of the public internet, scouring the web for interviews with people whom I wanted to learn from. She was on a short list. She was a teacher, philosopher, a fucking god, and – yes – a hell of a writer. The best writer. It was a privilege to read her work.
I remember reading a quote of hers on racism; just looked it up to remind myself:
The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.
This quote makes me reflect on countless experiences where I have – intuitively or logically- held myself back from doing or saying or being so I can survive both the moment and the marathon, on how hard I’ve worked, how much extra I give for what I have, how tired I am.
I love her for understanding where so few do. And I thank her for the privilege of reading her words. And I will miss her. While we do not live in a good world, it is a better world because Toni Morrison helped it be so.