African American Literature Toni Morrisons Essay Black Matters

772 words - 3 pages

African American Literature Toni Morrisons Essay Black Matters

In Black Matters, Toni Morrison discusses "knowledge" and how it seems to take on a Eurocentric standpoint. The "knowledge" she discusses is the traditional literature that is "unshaped by the four-hundred-year-old presence of the first Africans and then African-Americans in the United States" (Morrison 310). Morrison also addresses the treatment of African Americans in current society dealing with "racial discourse" (311), in addition, to ignoring matters of race. Morrison strongly argues that the traditional canon, taught and respected by much of society, ignores black's contribution to society. She is also concerned with the lack of true African representation within the American canon, and says that what is within our American literature is an "invented Africa".
Morrison states, "American literature has been clearly the preserve of white male views, genius, and power, those views, genius, and power are removed from and without relationship to the presence of black people in the United States" (310). I agree with Morrison, these inequalities do ignore the importance of black experience. In today's society, why does the majority of teachers (K-12) only incorporate African American literature (writers) during the month of February? Is it because February is Black History month? As a child I learned and read about the black experience either at home or only during the month of February. Because of this, I always saw (or thought) whites as being the norm for literature in the school's curriculum.
Along with treating white Americans as the norm, Morrison illustrates that American literature portrays the black experience as insignificant and unworthy of attention. When speaking of the canon, Morrison states that American literature is written in such a way "Africans and their descendants are there in no sense that matters" (312). This statement is depicted in Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," through "the Negro servant" named Tobe. Although he is a character in the story, the reference to him is as "a doddering Negro man to wait on her… He talked to no one, probably not even to her, for his voice had grown harsh and rusty, as if from disuse" (Faulkner 76). I feel through literature, society and "white" writers show the African-American experience or (black life) as valueless.
Morrison also argues that society ignores issues of race by disguising the actual subject. She demonstrates this...

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