“Toni Morrison?” asked a neatly dressed girl in the corner. “Yes,” I replied. “Toni Morrison, didn’t she win that award for being like the only black author alive?” “No. That award doesn’t exist. Toni Morrison …” I began, but was cut off by a boy in a newsboy cap who mumbled, not looking up from the notebook he was doodling in. “Toni Morrison. I know her. I read her in English. Some dude started flying to freedom at the end? And the other one was about the girl who wanted to be white? Am I right?” “Yes,” I said. “Yeah, Toni Morrison,” he said, “I know her. She is deep. And she still writes about us.”
If I mentioned all of my skeletons, would you jump in the seat?
Would you say my intelligence now is great relief?
And it’s safe to say that our next generation maybe can sleep
With dreams of being a lawyer or doctor
Instead of boy with a chopper that hold the cul de sac hostage — Kendrick Lamar As excellent a lyricist as Kendrick Lamar is, as a young writer who is quietly committed — like Morrison — to telling stories about the community most familiar to him, he also enters his story at a time when black American literature has become splintered between battling narratives: the haves and the have-nots. It was because of my students’ struggle to find contemporary stories they could relate to that I realized we no longer hear many narratives from black Americans who did not go to college, who are not middle-class, who aren’t privileged with access. The problem is not that these authors are privileged — that is not at all the issue. The problem is that during a time when moralizing about the lower-income, black body is once again at an all time high, many of these authors continue to tell us about all the ways they are “feeling rich,” while for everybody else, as Joan Didion would write in The New York Review of Books, it is glaringly apparent “that we [are] living in a different America, one that [has] moved from feeling rich to feeling poor.”
Los Angeles Review of Books - When The Lights Shut Off: Kendrick Lamar And The Decline Of The Black Blues Narrative
Thanks to the great dream hampton for pointing me to this excellent essay/review of Kendrick Lamar’s album. It’s a must read.
This essay simply reeks of high-mindedness and care. You should really read all of it.