Having previously read Beloved, and now reading A Mercy, I found myself curious about some more of Toni Morrison’s background. In particular, I was curious about where the inspiration for her books came from, considering both had a similar context and themes. Interestingly, I found out that Morrison was born in Ohio and attended an integrated school. Continue reading “Toni Morrison’s Inspiration?”
In Rachel’s post, she points to the etymology of the word “flesh” in the lines “Jacob flinched. Flesh was not his commodity”. She suggests that when he does trade enslaved people, he views them as bodies; as fungible, mutually interchangeable, as in without individual personhood.
I’d like to examine these lines through a different lens. If I remember correctly, Dr. McCoy suggested in class that this line may give the reader insight into how Jacob makes peace with the violence he takes part in. He says he only trades commodities which are raw goods such as gold and coffee. Jacob has a physical reaction to the suggestion that D’Ortega settle his debt with enslaved people. He winces and says he does not trade flesh (25). This suggests that he does not want to trade enslaved people. He is content with trading raw goods. However, these goods are produced through the violent exploitation of enslaved people. Therefore, he does trade in flesh. He is an integral part of the capitalist loop that upholds chattel slavery. The line “flesh was not his commodity” is untrue not only because he ends up settling his debt through the trade of a human, but because he profits directly from the system he’s attempting to reject.
I counted them. There were about five men total in McCoy’s class of about thirty students. I found out later I had miscounted. It wasn’t really a problem. I grew up with three bossy sisters and I make friendships easily with females. However, I still felt slightly out of place, as if I had picked the wrong class. I then realized that there were even less people in the class with African heritage. In a class about Toni Morrison, a black author who writes about minority struggles and inequality, this class still had an overwhelming majority of white students.
As a white male, to say that I felt a connection with centuries of oppression would be insulting at best. I grew up surrounded by white people and watching films with “smurfettes” and token black best friends. I accepted these films as if they displayed accurate representations of our world’s demographic. Currently, I am studying to be a educator and I will be responsible to train the minds that will become the voices of our world’s discourse. It will be my job to help make the world better for each individual, starting with my own future classroom. But how can we do more than just say people in the minority belong? How can I mute my inner voice of privilege that would dare consider myself underrepresented? I am hoping to explore practical questions of oppression and representation more and more as I try to become more aware of those around me and less focused on myself.
Hi all! I recently came across this Buzzfeed article of Morrison’s quotes. They are truly beautiful and if you haven’t started to read “A Mercy” yet, I think this is a nice taste of her writings and speeches.
Here’re photos of some of the first-day questions generated after hearing the first chapter of A Mercy. As I mentioned in class, I think the Morrison/Davis NYPL interview will provide some material for some answers, and maybe the swirl can yield some blog posts!
As the blogging assignment asks you to position your posts explicitly in response to someone/something else, I figured I’d give you something from the get-go to think about and bounce off of: a rich, wide-ranging 2010 video conversation between Angela Davis and Toni Morrison.
So much in here of use throughout the semester! (Read a transcript here)