We Are Dazzled, Not Destroyed

To begin this post, I want to draw attention to Frank’s post “Just Make It Go Away,” which highlights the way that Morrison and Dante both use blindness as a way to describe some of their major characters. The article that Frank brings into his post, “On the Hideous Whiteness of Brexit,” points specifically to the distorting lens that having white privilege has on people. The article’s author, Akwugo Emejulu, pays particular attention to how this whiteness is not an excuse for being blind, which is exactly what Morrison does in her novel, Paradise.

Part of my thought project focuses on how Dante’s perceived image of Beatrice distracts him from seeing what was truly important: his own personal development on his journey to heaven. Dante writes “Dazzled, not destroyed” when characterizing the type of blindness that he experiences. This not destroyed part — it’s really important! It draws attention to how we can repair it. Hurting is not an excuse to give up. Emejulu mentions it in his article, “Bexit shows us how whiteness, as a power relation, operates in ways to cast itself as both a ‘victim’ and an ‘innocent’ simultaneously,” amplifying how we mustn’t fall into the narratives that often plague people who have suffered.

Morrison’s novels call for an acknowledgment of the issues that permeate our society: “I do, however, want public acknowledgement, solidarity and collective action against Britain’s de facto policy of indefinite detention of migrants; of everyday and institutionalised Islamophobia and the state violence deployed against Sarah Reed, Sheku Bayok, and Jimmy Mubenga and other people of color,” says Emejulu. Let us say their names.

The task at hand is hard. Our country wants to move on without hurting. We want to ignore and be blind. I find myself committing this crime often. I like to avoid things that happen instead of acknowledging them, “to acknowledge this history would mean coming to terms with the arbitrariness of race and the racial order,” Emejulu reminds us. But we must do this in order to move on. Dante warns us about it in Paradiso, much like Morrison does in her trilogy.

Like Frank points out, just because we remove the signs appearing all over our campus, the sentiments still remain. We must remember that our country voted for a bigoted presidential candidate over a woman. Remember how the men in Morrison’s “Ruby” entered the convent. How they searched the convent, feeling “the chill [intensify] as the men spread deeper into the mansion, taking their time, looking, listening, alert to the female malice that hides” (4).

Please direct your attention to this Morrison interview about writing about black people and race when asked, “When will you write about white people?” Spend a couple minutes thinking about how Morrison reacts to a review on her novel, Sula, that questioned how black characters will need to confront white people, “as though our lives have no meaning without the white gaze.” Confront the white gaze, or the dominant gaze, and move past it. It’s something that I have not yet learned in my own writing. Yet, I know that with Morrison as my guide, I can step into the parameters of the way that I see the world myself. I can acknowledge this blindness, unlearn myself from it, and then move on.
Am I being confusing? Please let me know where I should extrapolate.

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