MY dearest thoughts. Toni Morrison
Monday, June 12th 2017 I, Toni Morrison, am very proud today as I sit here and marvel at the perseverance and dedication of my young black sisters. I am proud of the fire in their hearts and the drum in their souls. I am proud of the strength of their tongues and the wisdom in their eyes. For too long have our sisters been silenced and subjected to neglect and underappreciation. For too long have our issues been ignored and voices silenced. Today as I listen to the melodic rhythms of Beyoncé’s Lemonade and read Warsan Shire’s poetic recollection of a diasporic past and sub-altern identity, I think to myself of how far we’ve come as black women, as women. Our stories must be heard, not only by the young black girls and boys who grow up in a confusing and racially unjust society, no, not just them; our stories must be heard by the masses. Our voices must be heard- not only by the politicians in which we beg to correct our institutions to fairly represent us, both the citizens of North American countries and the immigrants leaving homes in search of respite and a haven, our voices must be heard by those who the system supports, those who have not experienced life from where we stand. My two sisters have made me proud today, I say this with my chest high and back straight. Instead of faltering to past defeats and ignorance, my sisters continue to shout at the top of their lungs until the very last breath, and after that last breath rolls off so silently from the curves of their lips, over the mountain and through the valleys that same voice carries over and touches the soul of yet another sister who carries the fight. voices are our torches, torches of hope and torches of dignity that we will carry through obstacles and hardships.
My sisters have told our stories in their respective mediums, delivering messages of political and social injustices experiences by our people. They used a platform to educate the masses. What they showed the world today is that such diversified people facing such diversified issues can be represented and given a seat at the table of literary recognition. Their respective mediums deliver literature differently, tell different stories, with different tones, styles and rhythms but at the end of the day they tell our stories, and stories that others apart from African Americans can relate to. They touched the people with art.
Wednesday, June 14th 2017 Born in Lorain, Ohio to working-class parents and being the first member of my family to graduate, I am very proud. I said it a few days ago but I will say it again, until I am no longer proud and since you and I both know this will not happen I will declare my happiness ongoingly. Back to my point now, oh yes, I AM P ROUD. I have written many books, won many prizes and gained many achievements. It was hard for me, but it was worth it. Young Warsan Shire reminds me of myself a little bit you know. Thereâ€™s something about that girl, you feel her words deep within your soul and comprehend exactly where they are emanating from. Her ability to elicit emotions and visual ques in oneâ€™s mind with her writing is a pure gift. She is a teller of truths, teller of pains, teller of love, and everything you can think of that makes us human.
Warsan Shire’s “Home” speaks volumes of corruption and the sub-altern identity that many refugees and immigrants have faced in their journeys of life. In my lifetime, I was not faced with the tragedy and nightmare of having to flee home for sanctuary and security, having to leave home for basic human rights and social justices that one should feel when they are at home……. I have not….I have not……but, when I read that girls poetry and listened to her recite those dark memories, I felt it. I felt her pain, I felt her frustration and she did it, let me tell you. She achieved what she knew she would, she’s an intelligent soul I tell ya, I can feel it. She touched us and opened our eyes to what our neighbours and community members are going through. The pain of diaspora does not end when you touch down in your new home. It is a lot more than that you know. The pain of diaspora can be eternal. Her words make it known that the memories are etched behind the eyes of the survivor, ingrained in their minds, and sometimes the teeth that form gates to the mouth make it hard to recount these experiences. If Ms. Shire has taught me anything, it is that dark memories teach us and ignite us. Don’t look at a successful immigrant and tell them to be thankful that they are now in a first world country. Don’t tell them that they should be proud that they are safe, don’t tell them that they should be thankful of America or Canada for accepting them. Help make them feel at home, rebuild that sense of respite in them. Listen to their stories, assure them that they have found comfort. Talk to your government representatives and leaders, tell your neighbours stories if they feel they are not heard. Shire showed us that her art is her torch, it is her educative tool. She taught us and she taught us with art.
Friday June 16th, 2017
Oh Beyoncé, Beyoncé. That girl there does her thing, from day one Beyoncé did her thing. She puts it down, spins it around and tells the world “L OOK AT ME!”, loot at me perseveres, look at me succeed, look at me dance, listen to me sing, watch me act, and now, look at me do all of those things with a message. Yes I know, every song has a message, don’t get me wrong, but Lemonade was a little different than every other Beyoncé song. That girl did her thing. Lemonade delivered a message so differently or shall I say distinct. Lemonade is modern literature that some of us old heads might not quite comprehend. The young ones get it, oh yes, they do. They loved it. It spoke to THEM, it touched our girls, it touched all the girls hell, not just ours. Unlike Warsan, who I must add wrote the poetry transitions in Lemonade, the album’s combination of art forms did something different, it told multiple stories to multiple people all at once. The albulm has its critics, I read those comments and reviews against the visual representation. There’s of coarse those who question the black representation of the album, “Why is everyone black? This album doesn’t have anything to teach me”. Don’t tell Beyoncé that, she’ll tell you what it has to teach you alright. If you are a black woman listening and watching Lemonade, you feel pride, you feel represented and proud. If you are a black man, you feel humbled, you also feel like you matter and you are not just a statistic. If you are a white woman or other woman of colour, you understand your fellow sisters and sympathize with similar issues, just on slightly different terms.
If you are a white man, you might feel a lot of things, hell I still need to figure out what you gained from this film because you entitled white men, actually, let me stop myself there. Let me truly and deeply think. What does the white man feel when watching and listening to Lemonade? What did he gain? What did he learn? I may not be able to answer this just yet but there’s some food for thought, as the album allows for quite a bit of actually. Lemonade doesn’t give you the details upfront and raw as Warsan Shire’s Home. Lemonade is instead encrypted with messages that those who understand or listen and watch closely can decode. The album is laced with emotions and sensory ques that elicit thought provoking conversations, debates, and raise many questions. The academic that I am, I really had to wear a different hat to assess this piece of literature. I had to sit back, look at the world and comprehend how this piece of literature might touch some people differently than Shire’s raw words. Beyoncé knew the answer and that is why she did what she did, and I tell you she did her thing. These two reached out to the masses in varying creative ways. They told their stories, they told our stories, and they demanded that we listen. Beyoncé took to artistic entertainment and Warsan took to her poetic force and language. I wouldn’t say one did a better job than the other because that is not true, but of course from the nature of my work I understand and relate to the creative style of Warsan Shire more. I grasped her thoughts quickly and understood her language flawlessly. The truth hurts and she let it be known, no encryptions needed. Beyoncé used a different method but her messages are what I related to moreThey reached a crowd in their respective ways and taught the world something they needed to know.
REFERENCES “Lemonade.” TIDAL, Beyonce, listen.tidal.com/album/59727856. “Obo.” Toni Morrison - Literary and Critical Theory - Oxford Bibliographies, 23 Mar. 2018, www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780190221911/obo-9780190221911-0044.xml. “Toni Morrison.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 27 Feb. 2018, www.biography.com/people/toni-morrison-9415590. “Warsan Shire – Home.” Genius, genius.com/Warsan-shire-home-annotated.