Thoughtful Thursday: Toni Morrison

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Thoughtful Thursday: Toni Morrison

In early August 2019 we lost Toni Morrison, the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.  In today’s Thoughtful Thursday we celebrate this gifted author by sharing some of her inspirational quotes.  Share these with your children and enjoy.

On Writing

–If you find a  book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.

–Make up a story. For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.

–Writing is really a way of thinking–not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic or just sweet.

On Responsibility

–As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.

–I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.

–If education is about anything other than being able to earn more money, that thing is intelligent problem solving, and humans relating to each other in mutual constructive ways.

On Racism

–The very serious function of racism … is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and so you spend 20 years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says that you have no art so you dredge that up. Somebody says that you have no kingdoms and so you dredge that up. None of that is necessary.” (“A Humanist View,” a 1975 speech Morrison gave at Portland State University)

–I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge – even wisdom. Like art.”

On Living

–You are your best thing.

–Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind. It is a learned application without reason or motive except that it is God. You do not deserve love regardless of the suffering you have endured. You do not deserve love because somebody did you wrong. You do not deserve love just because you want it. You can only earn – by practice and careful contemplations – the right to express it and you have to learn how to accept it.

–Anger … it’s a paralyzing emotion … you can’t get anything done. People sort of think it’s an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling — I don’t think it’s any of that — it’s helpless … it’s absence of control — and I need all of my skills, all of the control, all of my powers … and anger doesn’t provide any of that — I have no use for it whatsoever.

–At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough.

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