Editor’s note: Toni Morrison, Nobel laureate, novelist, and public intellectual who wrote for and about Black people and in particular Black women, died on Monday. She was 88.
By Yveka Pierre, Esq., If/When/How Litigation Counsel
Toni Morrison’s writing was wasted on me as a youth. On days like this I should be ashamed to admit it, but I’m not. I was growing and traversing through a multitude of things that made it hard to look at parts of myself reflected back at me. I am glad to say that I had chances — glorious undeserved chances— to read her work when I was ready, when I needed it. When it wasn’t an assignment with right or wrong answers. I got to read Morrison’s works, and read transcripts of lectures, and speeches and quotes.
And I was lucky because I felt seen.
I saw the Black Haitian woman growing in somebody’s not-so-Southern — but ever so country— South. I saw what books looked like when a girl that looks like me, or my friend, or my cousin, or my mama, was centered and allowed to be imperfect. I saw Blackness without caveat and apology. Do you know what a blessing this was, in a world that conscripts Blackness into boxes, into coffins, into cages? Do you know what a blessing it was to get free?
On the days that we mourn a legend’s passing into an ancestor, it becomes ever more present that it is our duty to create, and to live out loud, and to get free. As Toni Morrison has taught us, “the function of Freedom is to free someone else.”