Dr. Tara L. Conley (Communication, Montclair State) has compiled a list of online essays written by Black women and non-binary writers in tribute to Toni Morrison in the wake of her August 5 death. Dr. Conley’s list is here. She welcomes additions.
Here is an excerpt from Dr. Conley’s own essay, In Toni Morrison’s Hometown, the Familiar Has Become Foreign:
When I heard Toni Morrison passed away, I thought it odd that someone immortal could die. * * * I knew Mom and I would soon be making an eight-hour drive from New York City to Elyria for a family funeral. The last three years of visiting home has been because of funerals. On this trip, I wanted to visit Toni Morrison’s childhood home for the first time.
Reader, the irony of going home to visit Toni Morrison’s childhood home after her death, amidst a series of family homegoings isn’t lost on me. * * *
Morrison called Ohio “neither plantation nor ghetto,” and that’s how I remembered it, too. At the Christian school I attended in Lorain, my classmates were black, Puerto Rican, and white. Our parents worked together at industrial plants and telephone companies. I always felt a sense of shared class consciousness growing up in Elyria-Lorain. Racism wasn’t talked about so much as it was quietly experienced by family members and friends. I was called a nigger on the playground, and so was my mom, and so was my mom’s mom. But that was our problem to deal with.When Donald Trump was running for president, that shared sense of class struggle I knew growing up seemed like a lie. White family friends defended Trump and his rallies; they refused to see him as a problem and became less and less reticent about showing their support. Sports team banners used to tell people what we were most proud of in Northeast Ohio. Now Trump 2020 signs do.
This place I know is foreign.
Read the full essay here.