Howard University was my introduction to a few things. Alpha Kappa Alpha was founded on that campus and Toni Morrison (a fellow Bison) would become my literary guru. Toni’s writing’s were the first time I read about someone who looked like me, sounded like me and was literally some version of me as a whole person of color.
Toni Morrison: The Pieces That I Am chronicles the life and career of this literary genius straight from her lips with a little help of friends like Sonia Sanchez, Angela Davis to name a few.
Like any documentary subject, you walk away with so much more than you bargained for. What stained my heart the most with this doc? The total unapologetic nature of Morrison when speaking about how her work was often reviewed and criticized by those who did not experience life in the same manner as her middle class family of color. Therefore, these critics would tear down what they don’t understand. A type of criticism trend going all the way back to Frederick Douglas, Ralph Ellison and James Baldwin.
Morrison’s books mostly centered around women of color. Until Toni, we were written as literary props or jokes. More importantly, as a novelist she takes me to a place I’ve never been and reminds me that books have an impact on our culture even if we don’t realize or acknowledge it.
Loved that 48 of her colleagues rallied behind her and protested when her work continued to get ignored by the masses who decided what awards were handed out to whom. Morrison eventually won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in
Toni Morrison is a natural treasure and it was not lost on me that legendary authors like Sonia Sanchez came to Sundance to salute and celebrate my Bison sista’ as each one of her books were broken down by Morrison in her own words through art, music and the recollection of friends like Angela Davis and Oprah Winfrey.
As a woman, author, editor, mother, daughter, sister and inspiration to hundreds of writers, I think Toni Morrison said it best, “If you don’t understand the history of Black women…you don’t understand America.”
Toni Morrison : The Pieces I Am is the perfect tribute to a literary queen whose work shall live on for decades transforming even more lives with each passing day.