Toni Morrison. Photo illustration by Lisa Larson-Walker. Photo by Bettman/Corbis.. Featured Image
Moot black. I was recently asked by another publication to contribute an essay about Toni Morrison, who just turned 88. I sent along a piece about revising the chapter on Beloved in my first scholarly book during a strange Easter weekend I spent in Cambridge, England. The editors found this a little niche. Their explanation of what they wanted instead made me uncomfortable. It seemed to me that they were asking for a strong critique of Morrison, or more precisely, of what she stands for, or more precisely yet, of what other people have taken her to represent. One phrase in particular made me ache: They wanted this takedown to come from a black writer. The second piece I sent, a somewhat defensive paean to Morrison and her work, was rejected. “Too academic,” they said. Mute black.