Morrison’s Intentions

Since reading Sarah’s post, I’ve been thinking about Toni Morrison’s intentions in writing A Mercy. In doing a little digging around on the internet, I happened upon an NPR series in which Morrison reads from her book. 

In the adjoining interview, she states that she “wanted to separate race from slavery” and felt that to do so she had to go back in time “to when what we now call America was fluid, ad hoc.” She goes into detail about how white and black were not originally part of the foundation of slavery; and, as we saw in the film A Terrible Transformation: Africans in America, there was a sort of evolution from indentured servitude to the slavery that students learn about in high school.

Morrison’s answer to our question about her intentions leaves me with more questions. After speaking with a friend at Amherst College, I wonder why my previous education has given me the impression that chattel slavery existed in its most famous form right from the start of the American colonies? The entire evolution that A Terrible Transformation discusses seems, in my experience, to have been skimmed over. We speculated a few answers to this question, though unsettling and disheartening. Has this been anyone else’s experience, as well?

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