Assignment:

Pick ONE of the authors assigned for Tuesday (Fanon, Morrison, Davis). Choose one idea that this author writes about that is interesting to you and, in a paragraph state the idea and describe why it captured your interest.  

Response:

After reading Toni Morrison’s Black Matter(s), I was particularly struck by her description of American identity with regards to the discovery of and migration to the new world. This concept connected to our discussions on identity, humanity, and reason. Morrison begins her argument with a description of the differences between the Old and New Worlds. The New World offered a break from the oppression and limitation characteristic of the Old World. Emigrants experienced poverty, inequality, and punishment in the Old World; they sought freedom from these social constraints in the New World. The oppressed followed their desire for unlimited freedom and limitless futures. The foundations of American identity rest on the effort to reach unprecedented freedom and equality—the “American Dream”. Morrison argues that cultural identities are shaped and inspired by a nation’s literature. New American literature reflects the aspirations of the New World and separation from the European tradition. The writers of this time emphasized an identity based on racial differences that created autonomy, authority, power, newness, and difference. Morrison elaborates on the characteristics made possible by Africanism: Autonomy becomes individualism, authority becomes conquest, power creates a conception of a “raw, half-savage world”, newness becomes innocence, differences become distinctiveness. These characteristics created the quintessential American identity, an identity that solely depends on nationality and completely disregards other aspects of an identity. 

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