Toni Morrison flipping the script on labels

9 Aug

“In 2012, President Obama awarded [Toni Morrison] the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, recognizing her for “her nursing of souls and strengthening the character of our union.”

Obama described her as ‘one of our nation’s most distinguished storytellers,’ a judgment that was nearly unanimous among literary critics. They tussled, however, over whether Ms. Morrison was best described as an African American writer, an African American female writer or simply an American writer — and whether the label mattered at all.

‘I can accept the labels,’ Ms. Morrison told the New Yorker in 2003, ‘because being a black woman writer is not a shallow place but a rich place to write from. It doesn’t limit my imagination; it expands it. It’s richer than being a white male writer because I know more and I’ve experienced more.'”

 – Excerpted from Toni Morrison’s obituary in the Washington Post, August 6, 2019

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