Me and Toni Morrison: On the Same Page About Skin Color Politics

GodChildBook

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

Toni Morrison in Philly, signing my book. #Authorswoon
Toni Morrison in Philly, signing my book. #Authorswoon
Have any of you read Toni Morrison’s new novel, God Help the Child? Not only have I read it, I had the chance to see Ms. Toni give a reading from the book here in Philadelphia and of course got her to sign my book. It was magical getting to meet her in person and to hear about her inspiration and ideas for writing this particular story.
My copy of Toni Morrison's latest, God Help the Child.
My copy of Toni Morrison’s latest, God Help the Child.

Dear readers, I don’t know if you know this, but God Help the Child is all about a dark-skinned Black woman, Bride, who was rejected by her light-skinned mother and how that rejection informed the painful trajectory of her entire life. The book begins:

It’s not my fault. So you can’t blame me. I didn’t do it and have no idea how it happened. It didn’t take more than an hour after they pulled her out from between my legs to realize something was wrong. Really wrong. She was so black she scared me.”

That could be the opening to my new book too, Same Family, Different Colors, only it wouldn’t be from the mouth of a fictional character, but rather a confessional from a real woman. Bride’s story may be a creation of Toni Morrison’s imagination, but sadly, mothers reject their children every day, even in the year 2015, because they’re too dark or too light. Depends on the circumstances. And, it’s not just Black people who exhibit these skin color prejudices. The stories I’m collecting from Latino and Asian-American subjects include the same experiences, with the same language of rejection and despair.

What gives me hope however, is that for every story of parental neglect or sibling jealousies that I am recording, I have another one where shades of skin color difference in the family made no difference. Without giving anything away, God Help the Child ends with hope as well. Toni Morrison isn’t the happily ever after type and neither am I, but I think we both see potential for something different from the tragedies of our collective past when it comes to skin color breaking up a family. Maybe our books and the countless other new media projects on this topic will prove to be a catalyst for that change.

What about you, dear readers? Do you come from a family of different colors? Did it make a difference in your upbringing? How? I’m totally listening and taking notes.

Peace!

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6 thoughts on “Me and Toni Morrison: On the Same Page About Skin Color Politics

  1. Paula

    Being in a mixed race marriage for 39+yrs. We smile with love & pride at all the different combos of Black, Brown, American Indian, White, Mexican & Vietnamese mixed grandkids. Oh the stories I can tell… Relocation was a choice made, due to a Grandparent whom, we believe could have emotionally harmed our children over skin color.

    1. Ms. Meltingpot

      Paula,
      What a colorful family you have. Sounds like a blessing. And yes, sadly it is often the older generations who have the most problems with our choices. Good for you, a loss for them.

  2. Paula

    Being in a mixed race marriage for 39+yrs. We smile with love & pride at all the different combos of Black, Brown, American Indian, White, Mexican & Vietnamese mixed grandkids. Oh the stories I can tell… Relocation was a choice made, due to a Grandparent whom, we believe could have emotionally harmed our children over skin color.

  3. Greg Thrasher

    Colorism is of course nothing new in the Black Community it is another ugly derivative of White Supremacy .

    Colorism shares spare with the ‘one drop rule’ another nasty and divisive feature of White Supremacy.

    The damage caused by this twisted pathology impacts dark skin and lighted skin Black Americans with equal disdain.

    Once on park playground with my lighter skinned brother a parent of a White child pulled me away from my own brother claiming I was playing to hard with him!

    1. Ms. Meltingpot

      Greg,

      You are of course, quite right. Thank you for your comments and what a painful experience as a child. I appreciate you sharing. That’s what I’m looking to highlight in my new book.

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