"And white women? They chase you [black men] to every corner of the earth, feel for you under every bed. I knew a white woman wouldn't leave the house after six o'clock for fear one of you would snatch her.… They think rape soon's they see you, and if they don't get the rape they looking for, they scream it anyway just so the search won't be in vain." (Morrison)
This is how Sula, the heroine of Toni Morrison's novel, refers to what she feels to be every white woman's secret desire to be raped by a black man.
Morrison--who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1988--is one of the most assigned writers in college literature courses today, and her novel Sula (1973) is certainly the most popular of her works. Millions of college students have read this book, and it is safe to say that Morrison's view of the word, especially the white world, makes a big impression on impressionable minds.
The plotless Sula is the story of a friendship between two black woman: Sula and Nel. The women's relationship is played out against the backdrop of malicious, evil whites who insult and perpetrate other outrages against blacks in general and black women in particular.
For example, Nel's mother is reprimanded by a white conductor for being in the white section of a southern train: "What was you doin' in that coach yonder?...We don't 'low no mistakes on this train. Now git your butt on in there." As Nel and her mother progress further south, even the public toilets marked COLORED WOMEN disappear: the women are forced to relieve themselves in "a field of high grass on the far side of the track," and Nel eventually learns how to "fold leaves" expertly.
Later in the novel, Sula and Nel are t...
... middle of paper ...
... 11-13, 1997), white-studies guru Noel Ignatiev remarked: "Now that White Studies has become an academic industry, with its own dissertation mill, conference, publications, and no doubt soon its junior faculty, it is time for the abolitionists to declare where they stand in relation to it. Abolitionism is first of all a political project: the abolitionists study whiteness in order to abolish it....Whiteness is not merely oppressive and false, it is nothing but oppressive and false. As James Baldwin said, 'So long as you think you are white, there is no hope for you.'"
Perhaps people like Morrison and Ignatiev feel that whiteness can be raped out of white women, given that offspring produced from such violent unions will not be white. This would certainly be a way for blacks "to survive" the "evil" that is white people, as Morrison describes them.
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