Friday, December 21, 2012

The Toni Morrison Connection

When I give lectures based on the research that produced Living with Lynching, someone always asks what inspired me to study this material.  Some of the most honest answers to that question are now published in a volume that honors Toni Morrison.  Released this month, Toni Morrison: Forty Years in the Clearing is a lovely volume that includes contributions from Barack Obama, playwright Lydia Diamond (who adapted Morrison's The Bluest Eye for the stage), black feminist theorist Farah Jasmine Griffin, and artists Mendi + Keith Obadike.

My contribution to this collection is titled "Belief and Performance, Morrison and Me."  It details experiences I had in high school and college that led me to want to pursue a PhD.  Morrison's work was key to how I understood those experiences.  Her work continued to guide me years later when I had painful encounters as a young professor at a Research I institution.  Not only did the lessons I learned from Morrison help me understand those experiences; they also helped me navigate the interactions successfully enough to avoid being derailed as I wrote Living with Lynching.  

My essay can be downloaded from my Selected Works site, and the pdf includes the table of contents for this wonderful essay collection.  Free access here.

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