I just read that Toni Morrison has died. I felt my heart break when I read the news. She is one of my all-time favorite authors.
I was never assigned Toni Morrison in school (a damn shame, in my mind), but her works were listed as optional reading in AP Literature. I made a mental note of her work and, when I started college, I checked out my first Morrison novel from the vast rows of stacks at NC State: Song of Solomon. I was struck by the beauty of her prose amidst the sadness and darkness of her story.
Afterward, I read what would become my favorite Morrison novel: The Bluest Eye. My heart broke for the young girl who longed for blue eyes in the hopes of being accepted by everyone around her. It ached the most at the end, when she thought the staring at her pregnant belly was everyone’s awe at her eyes, at last, having changed.
I read many more of her books, including Beloved and Sula. In 2015, I was fortunate enough to see her speak at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, in promotion of her latest book, God Help the Child. She spoke about her books, but what I remember most was when she spoke about the recent, tragic murder of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Md. She spoke with disdain about the media giving their usual spin and asking their usual, fruitless questions. She answered their spin and their questions with a simple, powerful statement that she shared with an astonished voice: “A child is dead.”
Morrison’s voice will live on in her work. Still, I am saddened that she has left us. I will mourn and remember her. Rest in peace.