Today, on the observation of Dr. King's birthday, I am thinking about the whitewashing of this holiday -- how Dr. King was assassinated on April 4th, 1968, in all probability because his political work, while retaining its peaceful and love-infused message, began to question the motives and goals of the United States' government. In this speech that Dr. King made in 1967 in New York, he aligns poor people of all races in the United States with the citizens of Vietnam and poor people globally, in a furious protest of the Vietnam war. He states his disgust with the U.S. government, for siding with colonizers and oppressors in international policy, as he questions their care for black peoples' lives, and poor peoples' lives in our country, . Many of the points he makes are (unfortunately) still valid today, as well as relevant to Beloved.
As I'm thinking about the connections Dr. King's words make to the book, I return to Toni Morrison's thoughts about race -- that it is an idea that we have created, because it allowed the people in power to justify WHY they were in power, and that this idea we've created is now so deeply rooted into our society that we are having trouble moving on. In a similar way, Sethe could not move on from her past at Sweet Home. Near the end of the book, despite all that had happened and the many years that had passed since Beloved's murder, when she saw Ella's boss coming toward the house to potentially speak with Denver about work, Sethe's instincts and her history drove her back to Sweet Home and the schoolteacher, and she tried to hurt him. As someone who had experienced a milder side of slavery, but then also the brutality that came with blackness in 1864, could Sethe ever heal from these wounds? Can we, collectively, as a country, heal from the past that we are still struggling to reconcile, and whose ghosts are still haunting us, today?
Last week, rapper Kendrick Lamar was ridiculed by many in the hip-hop community for his statement about the Mike Brown case, the Eric Garner case, and the #blacklivesmatter movement, saying that black people are not going to be respected until "we learn to respect ourselves". Near the end of the Beloved, when Paul D returns, Sethe is mourning the loss of Beloved, saying that "she was my best thing", to which Paul D responds that Sethe is her own best thing. I see the ending of the book on this moment as Morrison's way of trying to inspire the self-love and self-respect that many former slaves were missing; not only did white people not see them as human, but many former slaves did not see or think of themselves as fully human, either.
What I'm asking you guys to do for this, your final blog entry of 1st semester, is to take the following quote from Dr. King's essay, and write a practice introduction and 1 body paragraph, connecting the quote to Beloved. This is a practice for your final exam on Thursday (7th period) or Friday (3rd period), which is completing a practice ELA Regents exam.
Critical Lens Quote:
"We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late." -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Remember, in your response, be sure to:
- Interpret the quote, and explain what it means to you
- Agree or disagree, explaining why
- List which texts you will connect to the quotation (in this case, Beloved)
- Write a body paragraph in which you select specific evidence from Beloved to support your interpretation of the quote, and discuss HOW the evidence connects to the quotation.
Sending love, peace and the urgency of now.