Beloved, Black Women, and the Limits of Freedom

Jenn Jackson in bitchmedia:

BelovedThis Women’s History Month, I re-read Beloved, Toni Morrison’s 1987 national bestseller and 1988 Pulitzer Prize winner for Fiction. Aside from being most beautifully written thing I have ever read, Beloved is a feat of liberatory work, a love letter to Black women, and a touchstone for the complexities of today’s Black freedom struggle. Morrison's iconic title character is the time torn spirit of a nameless Black baby murdered by her own mother.

…In January 2017 at the Women’s March on Washington, actress, singer, and activist Janelle Monáe (Moonlight and Hidden Figures) told the scores of supporters gathered there, “Whenever you feel in doubt, whenever you want to give up, you must always remember to choose freedom over fear,” hearkening back to the words of Simone. Like the Black women struggling with and toward freedom in Morrison’s Beloved, these young Black freedom fighters remind us that our struggle is interconnected. It is a matter for all of us, not some or a few. They prove that Black women always know. As Women’s History Month closes, I am heartened by this love story between Black women and freedom. Director Ava Duvernay (Selma and 13th) once described the process of being a Black woman who creates stories about Black women as “a reflection instead of an interpretation.” If Morrison’s Beloved is a reflection of us, then we too are its mirror image. We are the women who will save us. We are the Sethe, Denver, and even the Beloved who will secure our freedom. We are the chorus of women walking arm in arm, singing hymns and praying for our sister’s freedom.

If Morrison’s Beloved is a message to Black women, it’s that there is still much work to be done. But we are just the women to do it.

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