Educating the conqueror is not our business. —Toni Morrison
Last week some of us heard for the first time a presentation that Prof. Toni Morrison made in May 1975 during a public lecture series on the theme of the American Dream.
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“A Humanist View” begins by surveying technically objective shipping records. Comparing the records’ descriptions of rice, tar, turpentine, and humans, Morrison highlights the inhumanity of American slavery, the studied ignorance and skew of contemporary social sciences, and opportunities for Black artists to write and speak to their own community rather than write as educators for curious White audiences.
This weekend I sat down to listen to the 2-hour audio recording and transcribe Morrison’s presentation and responses during the Q&A. She discusses aspects of historical and contemporary racism, the economic roots of the racism tree, and uses racial epithets while describing how specific populations buy their way out of limiting social positions—literally using their creativity to become indispensable to local markets.
Since Portland State’s Soundcloud recording remains free, please don’t sell/resell this transcript or access to it. And to honor Morrison’s argument and intellectual legacy, please do use this content to fuel your own research, self-education, and art.
Please send any transcription corrections via my contact form. I’ll update the links above with the latest versions.
[Latest transcripts: 7/7/2014]