In “Black Matter(s)” Toni Morrison highlights how the enslavement and subjugation of Africanistic peoples developed the idea of freedom in America. She references the story of William Dunbar, an educated Scottish immigrant who came to America in search of freedom and autonomy. Dunbar finds both at the expense of his slaves. His gentlemanly qualities are enhanced against the background of a “savage” America. A savagery, Morrison states, that is formed in the American consciousness by the class of waiting labor for settlers to exploit. The notion of the oppression of the Africanistic forging America’s definition of freedom really stood out to me. To me, freedom has always been the culmination of all the good things about American ideology and not the product of a dark history and ignored disparities. Morrison’s take on the American freedom complex made me reevaluate my own takes on the subject. I had never thought of the concept of freedom being created by the reality of the oppressed. Before I saw freedom was an ideal that benefited everyone now I can see a more complex definition. Yes, freedom is a concept that has brought prosperity to many but it is also a myth that makes it possible to dismiss the harsh reality of race and inequality in this country.
If I could gather three of the authors we have read so far, it would be Toni Morrison, John Locke, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. These are the questions I would ask:
- How has the concept of freedom been shaped by those who champion it?
- How did you overcome the challenges you faced because of your prescribed identity?
- What myths have you had to confront in your lifetime?