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Slavery and Racism in Toni Morrison’s A Mercy

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The study of African American history has grown phenomenally over the last few decades and the debate over the relationship between slavery and racial prejudice has generated tremendous amounts of scholarship. There’s a renewed sense of interest in the academia with a new emphasis on studies and discussions pertaining to complicated relationships slavery as an institution has with racism. It is more so when the potential for recovering additional knowledge seems to be limitless. Even in the fields of cultural and literary studies, there is a huge emphasis upon uncovering aspects of the past that would lead one towards a better understanding of the genesis of certain institutionalized systems. A careful discussion of the history of slavery and racism in the new world in the early 17th Century would lead us towards a sensitive understanding of the kind of ‘playful’ relationship African Americans have with notions pertaining to location, dislocation and relocation. By taking up Toni Morrison’s ninth novel entitled A Mercy (2008), this paper firstly proposes to analyze this work as an African American’s artistic representation of primeval America in the 1680s before slavery was institutionalized. The next segment of the study intends to highlight a non-racial side of slavery by emphasizing upon Morrison’s take on the relationship between slavery and racism in the early heterogeneous society of colonial America. The concluding section tries to justify “how’ slavery gradually came to be cemented with degraded racial ideologies and exclusivist social constructs which ultimately, led to the equation of the term ‘blackness’ almost with ‘slaves’.
According to Jeffrey Elton Anderson, one of the significant changes in the second half of the ...

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