“misrepresented: africanistic prescence”
Paper #1 Revised –
In the work “Black Matters by Toni Morrison, we are shown many theories regarding American literature and American knowledge. More specifically, Morrison focuses on the lack of diversity in perspectives, especially when speaking in terms of the Africansitc views presence in literature. Morrison also sheds light on the inclusion of true Africantics views and presence in literature. When analyzing this piece, I turned to a poem written by Jo Carrilo, titled, “And When You Leave Take Your Pictures With You.” The basis of this sheds a light on women of color and the misrepresentation of them during the feminist movement, however, more specifically by white women.
In a specific excerpt of “Black Matters”, Morrisons states “I have begun to wonder whether the major, much-celebrated theme of American literature-individualism, masculinity, the conflict between social engagement and historical isolation, an acute and ambiguous moral problematics, the juxtaposition of innocence with figures representing death and hell- are not in fact responses to a dark, abiding signing Africanistic presence. The coded language and purposeful restriction by which the newly formed nation health with racial disingenuousness and moral frailty at its heart are maintained in its literature, even though the twentieth century. A real or fabricated Africanistic presence has been crucial to writers’ sense of their Americanness. And It shows: through significant and underscored omissions, startling contradictions, heavily nuanced conflicts, and the way their work is people with the signs and bodies of this presence.”
Within this excerpt, there are many complex ideas that need to be unpacked to be understood.
As a basis, Morrison finds her way into analyzing the idea of Americanness. In regards to this, she focuses on those who consider their Americaness a necessity to their identity, and how this ideal can affect literature. An additional theme Morrison brings about is the presence of Africansitic views and perspectives, more accurately, lack thereof. These two themes coincide in a specific sentence Morrison states, “A real or fabricated Africanistic presence has been crucial to writers’ sense of their Americanness.”
While unpacking this, I found a connection within the Carrillo poem. In Carrillo’s piece, she states “And when our white sisters/radical friends see us/in the flesh/not as the picture they own, they are not quite sure/if /they like as much, We’re not as happy as we look/on/their/wall.”
This piece is very clear and direct. It is based upon the continuous misconception of the truth in stories regarding people of color, more specifically, women of color.
This can directly relate to Morrison’s claims because when represented in literature, the Africanistic view is not represented at its true form, much like the women of color represented throughout Carillo’s poem and their lack of true representation. When having the additional view of Carrillo’s work the common theme is more easily understandable in Morrison’s piece. The ability to read the pieces side by side allowed for total unpacking of one of the many interesting aspects of Morrison’s writing.
Secondly, Morrison touches on the idea of Americanness and its connection to the lack of Africansitic views. This poses a large correlation between Carrillo’s work and Morrison’s.
Both authors present the difference between inclusion and representation. This helps to bring awareness to the need for both representation and inclusion with people of color. Carrillo shows this through her representation of women of color, she states “Our white sisters/radical friends/love to own pictures of us/sitting at a factory machine/wielding a machete/in our bright bandanas/holding brown yellow black children/reading books from literacy campaigns…”
This piece of Carrillo’s poem allows us to see that idea that Americanness is coupled with the idea of loving the idea of people of color, but not actually loving, liking or wanting people of color around. This excerpt actively helps the understanding and uncovering the meaning of a specific sentence within the Morrison text, which stated: “And it shows: through significant and underscored omissions, startling contradictions, heavily nuanced conflicts, and the way their work is people with the signs and bodies of this presence.”
This sentence is very complex and difficult to understand without the presence of the Carrillo text. The Carrillo text helps to validate the idea that Americanness now goes hand in hand with the idea of acting as though you include people of color when in reality there is not true representation or concern. Then when adding the Morrison text into the equation we can see the full aspects of Americanness and how they are validated through the omissions of people of color, more specifically in Morrison perspective, the Africanistic presence.
Both authors allow room for analysis into the role that African American’s and their views can mean for literature. Morrison does so by touching on the lack of this Africansitic presence within literature, and Carrillo allows for an identification of the false representation and then debunks this notion by allowing for a true representation for people of color.
In doing so, both authors pose the implicit question of, what could our world and society be like today if we had incorporated the Africanistic ideals and allowed ourselves to analyze them, would there be a major shift? How much more progressive would it make our society? And will we ever know?