Take it all the way!
“The Black artist must do, what all the other artists do, talk to each other. I love Latin-American literature, and Russian literature. It would never occur to me that Dostoyevsky was supposed to explain himself to me. He’s talking to other Russians, about very specific things. But it says something very important to me. And was an enormous education for me.
When Black writers write, they should write for me. There is very little literature that’s really like that. Black literature. I don’t mean that it wasn’t necessary to have the other kind. Richard Wright is not talking to me. Or even you. He’s talking to some White people. He’s explaining something to them. Leroi Jones in The Dutchman is not talking to me. He’s talking to some White people. He’s explaining something to them.
It may have been very necessary. It certainly was well done. But it wasn’t about me. And it wasn’t to me. And I know when they’re talking just past my ear. When their explaining something. Justifying something. Just defining something.
But when that’s not longer necessary, and you write, for all those people in the book, who don’t even pick up the book. Those are the people who make it authentic. Those are the people who justify it. Those are the people you have to please. All those non-readers… They are the ones to whom one speaks…Not to the NY Times, not to the editors, not to any distant media, not to anything. It is a very private thing. They are the ones who say yea, uh-huh, that’s right. And when that happens very strangely, or rather very naturally, what also happens, is that you speak to everybody. And even though it begins as inward and private, and gets its own juices from itself, the end result, is that its communication with the world at large.” (Morrison, 1975, 1:14:00)
Sometimes you have to step back and let the body of work introduce itself, and I think this is one of those times. I want to thank my sister Samantha, and friend Judah for proofing my domain drafts. Thanks to them you all will notice far fewer grammar errors in those sections. In crafting this portfolio, I drafted the Domains first, then moved on to the Claims. As a result, you’ll see that the Domains contain a bit more fire, while the claims hold a bit more love. Hopefully that informs the way you want to read through this body of work.
A few months ago I was in one of my late night Youtube trances, and I stumbled upon Oprah Winfrey speaking at Maya Angelou’s Memorial Service. In it, she shared the final piece of wisdom that Maya had given her just a few days before she passed. While the two talked on the phone, Oprah shared with Ms. Angelou that she was about leave to start filming her new role in the movie Selma. She says that Maya told her to do what she always says when she’s about to begin a new job.
“Baby, I want you to do it, and I want you to take it! Take it all the way!” Raising her fingers to the sky, and basking in the crowd’s gasps, Oprah calmly grabs her glasses and her notepad and begins the journey back to her seat.
I can’t encode what was expressed in that moment. But I will say that this project embodies that message. I took this all the way! If I could, I would encourage my peers, and my students to do the same. Take it all the way!
In closing, I would just suggest that you to let my words spark a conversation between you and someone you trust. Share them on a piece of this portfolio and let my language spark a different conversation between you. It could be the beginning of something amazing.
Toni Morrison Panel Speech – http://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/orspeakers/90/
Maya Angelou Memorial – http://youtu.be/dqEaPBS-fug