Unit 1 Assignment 3: Luna Jerjees, Black Matters

Toni Morrison, in her essay “Black Matter(s)” describes the prevalence of white literature in the so-called “American” Identity and the blatant absence of African American literature. Morrison highlights the association often made between the American image and whiteness. She emphasizes that the “knowledge” in traditional literature is “unshaped by the four-hundred-year-old presence of the first Africans and then African-Americans in the United States.” This white literature ignores the presence of the black community in the American culture and express ideals and practices only relevant to this Eurocentric culture. She even goes on to say that one of the reasons that writers can decipher the concepts of human freedom and basic, inalienable human rights is because slavery exists in such prominence. In Morrison’s perspective, the free republic was built on the backs of the “slave population.” I found Morrison’s perspective intriguing because she emphasizes the importance of black history in the narrative of the American identity and how these conflicts are often overlooked by American writers.

Authors: Maalouf, Morrison, Fanon

  1. How does one overcome the ongoing crisis associated with identity?
  2. With history being defined heavily by white philosophy, how does one justify the erasure of black history?
  3. Why is it that much of American history is carried by the work of the enslaved and carries a general disregard for their contribution to our society?

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