Friday, November 21, 2008

Toni Morrison and Creative Imagination

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Toni Morrison gives a stimulating interview in The Nation's November issue. She talks a bit about her admiration of Barack Obama and her new novel, A Mercy. I love Toni Morrison. Like a few other female writers and performers, including Mariama Ba, Gloria Naylor and Nina Simone -- Ms. Morrison feels like a member of my family. I've learned so much from her about the arts, life, and spiritual matters. She is simply a Queen.

Here's a small excerpt from her recent interview feature in The Nation. I'm looking for more commentaries on Obama from Black women and other women of color that don't trivialize or sexualize Mr. Obama. This country is overflowing with that kind of sentiment -- sexual exploitation and overstimulation. We don't need more of that kind of treatment of Obama, especially among those of us who have been objectified and sexualized over and over, and many times, inappropriately. Let's give some reverence and respect to the man who will be our leader. Check out what Ms. Morrison has to say about Mr. Obama:

Christine Smallwood (The Nation):

Last year, in your letter endorsing Barack Obama, you specifically cited his "creative imagination." What do you think of him as a writer?

Toni Morrison:

I think my introduction to him was the speech at the Democratic National Convention, you know, back in 2004. And then I read his book Dreams From My Father, and I was amazed because he writes so well. Really well, with really nice big, strong, artful sentences. But equally important was his reflection. You know, I'm not accustomed to that. I've read memoirs where people talk about their lives, and sometimes they're modest. Sometimes they excuse themselves--you know, the big ones, like My Life by Bill Clinton. They're very interesting books, but nobody was a writer, with reflection and change and meditation and strength. Dreams From My Father was very, very compelling. So I got interested in him.


Read the entire article, "Back Talk: Toni Morrison," in The Nation here.


And here's an excerpt from Toni Morrison's Letter to Barack Obama, in which she edorsed the Illinois Senator during the Democratic primary season:

In thinking carefully about the strengths of the candidates, I stunned myself when I came to the following conclusion: that in addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don't see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it. Wisdom is a gift; you can't train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace--that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom.

When, I wondered, was the last time this country was guided by such a leader? Someone whose moral center was un-embargoed? Someone with courage instead of mere ambition? Someone who truly thinks of his country's citizens as "we," not "they"? Someone who understands what it will take to help America realize the virtues it fancies about itself, what it desperately needs to become in the world?

Our future is ripe, outrageously rich in its possibilities. Yet unleashing the glory of that future will require a difficult labor, and some may be so frightened of its birth they will refuse to abandon their nostalgia for the womb.

There have been a few prescient leaders in our past, but you are the man for this time.

Good luck to you and to us.

Toni Morrison

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Lisa,
This is great from Toni Morrison. I have been saying I wanted to get Obama’s book to read and now I must get it and read it. Thanks for sharing.
Auntie T

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Hey Teedie,
Toni Morrison is awesome! She's got some powerful things to say about Obama. I'm sure he'll live up to all that she says about him.
Love,
Lisa

Anonymous said...

WOW! So Beautifully said.....

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Yes, as we all know....Ms. Morrison has a way with words! She put it down and told it like it is!.
She's the best.