Toni Morrison

The Unlikeables
June 21, 2012

Now that the first round has ended, let’s talk about a topic that’s dear to my heart. Of course, by the term “let’s” I mean “let me,” as in let me unload this off my chest. You, my dear delightful readers, can add your input, but first, allow me. Does it seem to you that with every tournament, the number of footballers who are unlikeable—or as my grandmother would say “slightly disagreeable”—seems to increase? Oh, why am I putting this in the form of a question? I’m venting here. I dislike quite a few players in this tournament.

Hitch, 1949-2011
December 16, 2011

I could never bring myself to call him "Hitch." It felt presumptuous, and though I knew him a long time we were never more than friendly acquaintances. He was insanely good company, but you don't have to have met him to know that, and I knew it mainly as a reader.

Excellent New Art
January 12, 2011

There are many ways to prop up a currency artificially. “We’re wrestling with the same stuff as Rilke,” Bono recently told The New York Times about Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the hapless Broadway wonder for which he collaborated on the music. More specifically, “Rilke, Blake, ‘Wings of Desire,’ Roy Lichtenstein, the Ramones.” I was not previously aware of the Rilkean elements in “Rockaway Beach.” Those elements Bono characterized as “the cost of feeling feelings,” which throws the Blakean dimension into question, but never mind. Precision is really not the point.

Enslavements
December 24, 2008

A Mercy By Toni Morrison (Knopf, 167 pp., $23.95) Last spring, a mysterious object was discovered beneath a street in Annapolis, Maryland. According to The New York Times, the clay "bundle" was about "the size and shape of a football [and] filled with about 300 pieces of metal and a stone axe, whose blade sticks out of the clay, pointing skyward." Anthropologists determined that it was a ritual object, perhaps more than three hundred years old, combining African religious practices with local materials.

Skin Deep
February 13, 2008

When Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign first began, there was reason to think she would be hard to beat in a primary. Despite her Iraq vulnerability and assorted baggage, she seemed to have an impenetrable bulwark in the black vote. “Bill Clinton’s popularity with blacks has been presumed to carry over to her and help her win the important South Carolina primary...and other similar Southern primaries,” explained Newsweek in November 2006. Newsweek wisely noted that the candidacy of Barack Obama could change that presumption.

Toni Talks
January 30, 2008

Having anointed Bill Clinton the first black president,Toni Morrison has now cast her ballot for someone I hope will actually be the first black president. Still, she's stuck with her nonsense about Clinton's blackness. But Barack Obama is authentically black and, also in his mixed parentage and cultural upbringing, an auguring of the multi-racial demography of our future.  

Alone Together
February 12, 2007

The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race, and American Identity By Eric L. Goldstein (Princeton University Press, 307 pp., $29.95) Strangers in the Land: Blacks, Jews, Post-Holocaust America By Eric J. Sundquist (Harvard University Press, 662 pp., $35)   I. IN UNCOUNTED, FLEETING, intimate ways, American Jewish children growing up between Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 lived the changing landscape of Jewish and African American relations. I know I did.

All and Nothing at All
March 06, 1995

I. Keeping Faith: Philosophy and Race in America Routledge, 319 pp. $19, $16.95 paper Race Matters Beacon Press, 105 pp. $15  Beyond Eurocentrism and Multiculturalism. Volume One: Prophetic Thought in Postmodern Times Common Cause Press, 205 pp. $14.95 paper  Beyond Eurocentrism and Multiculturalism. Volume Two: Prophetic Reflections: Notes on Race and Power in America Common Cause Press, 244 pp. $14.95 paper  Prophetic Fragments William Eerdmans Publishing Co., 294 pp. $14.99 paper  The American Evasion of Philosophy:A Genealogy of Pragmatism University of Wisconsin Press, 279 pp. $16.95 pap

'The Language Must Not Sweat'
March 21, 1981

A conversation with Toni Morrison.