Toni Morrison: 10 quotes you should know

typing machine

(Daniel McCullough, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Kate Whiting, Senior Writer, Formative Content


The world is paying tribute to literary great Toni Morrison, who passed away in New York after a short illness earlier this week.

The author received numerous accolades over the course of a 50-year career, including the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes. In 2012, Barack Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The former US president wrote on Twitter: “What a gift to breathe the same air as her, if only for a while.”

Barack Obama

@BarackObama

Toni Morrison was a national treasure, as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page. Her writing was a beautiful, meaningful challenge to our conscience and our moral imagination. What a gift to breathe the same air as her, if only for a while.

View image on Twitter

To celebrate her life, here are 10 thought-provoking quotes commonly ascribed to the literary legend.

1. The meaning of life

“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”

2. Gender equality

“The enemy is not men. The enemy is the concept of patriarchy, the concept of patriarchy as the way to run the world or do things.”

3. ‘African-American’

“American means white, and Africanist people struggle to make the term applicable to themselves with ethnicity and hyphen after hyphen after hyphen.”

4. An end to racism

“Racism will disappear when it’s no longer profitable, and no longer psychologically useful. And when that happens, it’ll be gone. But at the moment, people make a lot of money off of it.”

5. Love isn’t easy

“Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind.”

6. The power of writing

“I feel totally curious and alive and in control. And almost … magnificent, when I write.”

7. Write your truth

“Make up a story. For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.”

8. Political correctness

“What I think the political correctness debate is really about is the power to be able to define. The definers want the power to name. And the defined are now taking that power away from them.”

9. Art is all

“There is no civilization that did not begin with art, whether it was drawing a line in the sand, painting a cave or dancing.”

10. There’s hope

“I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge – even wisdom. Like art.”

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