It’s not uncommon for the literary greats of earlier generations to speak wisdom that seems unbound by time, but the late Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison seemed to just do so effortlessly. Such was the case when she had to educate journalist Jana Wendt in a 1998 interview and in turn, ended up speaking the kind of wisdom a GOP candidate or dozen could benefit from.
Human rights lawyer Qasim Rashid suggested Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin as a Republican who could stand to learn from Morrison’s work. Youngkin is running a tight race against Democrat Terry McAuliffe. In predictable opposition to the rebranded version of critical race theory that Republicans are selectively up in arms about, Youngkin tweeted a campaign video on Monday that featured the outrage of Laura Murphy, a white mom who years earlier tried to get Morrison's classic novel, Beloved, banned from her son's Advanced Placement English curriculum.
“As a parent, it’s tough to catch everything. So when my son showed me his reading assignment, my heart sunk,” Murphy said in the ad. “It was some of the most explicit material you can imagine.” Fittingly, it’s a novel about the devastating effects of slavery, and one of many works of people of color that Republicans have targeted, deeming them works promoting critical race theory. The theory is actually a framework for interpreting law that maintains racism has an undeniable effect on the legal foundation of American society, and it would be pretty exclusively confined to law schools if not for Republicans redefining it to mean anything that reveals the truth of racism or prejudice in America.
Rashid tweeted about Murphy’s disgust for the novel: “Wont RT it but VA GOP is running a video of a white mother blaming Terry McAuliffe for her kid’s ‘trauma’ from reading a book🤔The book? ‘Beloved,’ a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by the legendary Toni Morrison. How fitting is this rebuke to GOP racism?🤯”
Rashid included with the tweet video of Morrison being brilliant per usual.
“I wanted to feel free,” she said in her interview with Wendt, “not to have the white gaze in this place that was so precious to me, which was the work.” When Wendt responded with a follow-up question about whether Morrison would ever write books incorporating white lives, the author said she has.
“You can’t understand how powerfully racist that question is, can you,” Morrison added, “cause you could never ask a white author ‘when are you going to write about Black people.’”
She later added: “It’s inconceivable that where I already am is the mainstream.”
Republished with permission from Daily Kos.
Editor's note (Frances Langum): The McCauliffe campaign handed out copies of "Beloved" to reporters this week, with a note that Glenn Youngkin wants to ban books. Snap.