Veronica Chambers at the NOW:
February 18, 2021 would have been Toni Morrison’s 90th birthday. As we approach the anniversary of a global pandemic that has changed our lives in every way, it seems a fine time to dive back into the world of Toni Morrison. The questions she asked in a 2002 lecture seem wholly relevant now, almost 20 years later: “To what do we pay greatest allegiance? Family, language group, culture, country, gender? Religion, race? And if none of these matter, are we urbane, cosmopolitan, or simply lonely? In other words, how do we decide where we belong? What convinces us that we do?”
In everything Morrison wrote, she offered narratives that revealed the journeys of characters, specific but universal, flawed and imperfect, with a deeply American desire for freedom and adventure. One might say that because her characters were almost exclusively African-American, the quest to be free — in mind, body and spirit — was the consistent adventure.