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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  August 7, 2019 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT

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08/07/19 08/07/19 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from new york, this is democracy now! is a root, power, and money. that is what it is. the thing itself is jusust a manipulation and a tool. amy: today we remember the trailblazing novelist, teacher,
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who hasoni morrison, died at the age of 88. she was the first african-american woman to receive the nobel prize in literature. she also won a pulitzer prize. we will speak to angela davis, toni autobiography morrison edited. we will also speak to sonia sanchez and nikki giovanni about toni morrison's life and legacy toni morrisonar in their own words. >> as much as i admired and still admire invisible man, that because thet all question for me is, invisibleleo whom? not me. amy: all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman.
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president trump is visiting dayton, ohio, and el paso, texas, today following the mass shootings over the weekend which killed at least 31 people. resistance to trump's visit has been mounting among democrats and many residents of the two cities. this is dayton's democratic mayor nan whaley. >> he has made this bed and yes to lion it. his rhetoric has been painful for many in our community and i think people should stand up and say they're not happy that he is coming. amy: sunday's mass shooting in dayton kililled 9 people, including the gugunman's sister. the police shot the gunman at the scene. the fbi has opened an investigation and said the gunman was "exploring violent ideologies." after facing those who
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interrupted his speech on sunday, ohio's republican governor mike dewine backed lawses to gun control comics -- including expanding background checks and allowing courts to prevent certain people from getting or keeping their guns. ohio republican congressmember mike turner, whose congressional district includes dayton, also said tuesday he backs an assault weapons ban and imposing magazine limits. in el paso, texas, democrats and many community members are protesting trump's visit today. before the shooting rampage, which has killed at least 22 people, the alleged el paso gunman patrick crusius posted a manifesto saying he was "defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion" -- echoing the language used by trump to describe immigrants.
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democratic congressmember veronica escobar turned down an invitation to join trump in his motorcade when he visits, unless he called her -- which he didn't -- saying, "i refuse to join without a dialogue about the pain his racist and hateful words and actions have caused our community and country." the el paso gunman's family released a statement tuesday denouncing the mass murder. they wrote -- "patrick's actions were apapparently influenced and informed by people we do not know, and from ideas and beliefs we do not accept or condone. the destruction patrick did is not limited to the victims and their families. it touches the entire el paso and ciudad juarez communities, the state of texas, and this country." the gunman is charged with
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capital murder, and the case is being investigated as an act of domestic terror. meanwhile, the fbi is launching a domestic terror investigation into last montnth's mass shootig at the gilroroy garlic festivaln california, which killed three people, including two young people. just before the shooting, the gunman promoted an anti-immigrant racist manifesto online. investigators say the gunman had a hit list of targets including religious institutions, federal buildings, courthouses, and political organizations from both major political parties. at least 48 democratic lawmakers including el paso congresswoman veronica escobar are urgining house speaker nancy pelosi and senate majity leader mitch mcconnell to call congress back from recess to pass pending legislation addressing the threat of white supremacy. in a letter, they write --
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"we must come together across party lines, as swiftly as possible, to condemn any political leader, movement, or media figure who echoes the beliefs these terrorists have repeatedly expressed, including that immigrants are 'invading' the united states or set on 'replacing' any of our citizens. this ideology is utterly contrary to america's founding creed that all men and women are created equal." meanwhile, kentucky residents have been gathering outside mitch mcconnell's louisville home and office to protest against his inaction. protests also took place outside the white house tuesday, as activists and civil rights groups gathered to call for tion against wte supremacy and gun violence. leers from the naacp, planned parenthood, voto latino, brady, the lawyers' committee for civil rights, and many other groups
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called o legislative inaction and president trump's hateful rhetoric. this is vanita gupta, head of the leadership conference on civil and human rights and former heaof the department of justice'e's civil rights divisi. the massacre in el paso targeting the latino community did not happen in isolation. follow the evidence. racist rhetoric, charlottesvie. on theenship question senses. family separation. the attack of women of color members of congress, talking about immigrants as subhuman. they named trump and their attack and site him in their hate manifestoes. amy: meanwhile, walmart workers are expected to walk out today to protest the company''s sale f guns and ammunition following
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the massacre at an el paso, texas, walmart saturday, which killed 22 people, and a shooting at a mississippi walmart last week that killed two employees. in a petition by the walmart walkout campaign, organizers address ceo doug mcmillon, and write -- "we value walmart and our fellow associates, but we are no longer willing to contribute our labor to a company that profits from the sale of deadly weapons. we urge our leadership to cease the sale of all firearms and ammunition, ban the public open and concealed carry of weapons on company property and in all stores, and cease donations to nra-backed politicians." nobel laureaeate and celebrated, best-selling author toni morrison died monday at the age of 88 monday, locations of pneumonia.
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her writing style honors the rhythms of black oral tradition. as an editor, she is widely credited with helping whiten the literary stage for african americans and feminists. she wrote 11 novels and was the first african-american woman to win the nobel prize in literature in 1993. her widely acclaimed novel "beloved," about a slave who escaped a kentucky plantation won the pulitzer prize in 1988 and was later turned into a feature film with oprah winfrey. in 2012, president obama awarded toni morrison the presidential medal of freedom. this is a next served him a conversation between toni morrison and cornel west at the new york society for the goal culture in 2004. isthis melancholy i feel now about a country like this with the best shot in the world, the best shot in the world at this
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moment, at this time with a certain kind of plenitude and intelligence and a ambition and generosity and some history from which to learn could, indeed, become the worst part of its own self. amy: after the headlines, we will spend the hour taking a closer look at toni morrison's legacy. we will continue to hear her in her own words and speak to her friends and colleagues, dr. angela davis and the great writers nikki giovanni and sonia sanchez. human rights groups are demanding the nigerian government release nigerian journalist omoyele sowore after he was arrested sunday. authorities are claiming sowore's call for nationwide protests under the banner "revolution now" is an attempt to take over the government. sowore is a human rights activist and the publisher of the online news site sahara
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reporters. he ran against president muhammadu buhari earlier this year in an election he said lacked a level playing field. his party, africa action congress, declared august 5 the start of the days of rage, inspired by the recent popular uprising in sudan that toppled authoritarian ruler omar al-bashir. the protests went ahead this week despite sowore's arrest. just two days before he was arrested, sowore tweeted -- "all that is needed for a #revolution is for the oppressed to choose a date they desire for liberty, not subjected to the approval of the oppressor. #revolutionnow #daysofrage #august5" to see him in our documentary "drilling and killing: chevron manager is dictatorship" that was produced by me and jeremy scahill, you can go to
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the u.s. is warning turkey against any incursions into northeastern syria that would attack kurdish forces. turkish president recep tayyip erdogan is warning a military operation in the kurdish-controlled northeastern region is imminent. the u.s.-backed kurdish force is considered a terrorist group by turkey. u.s. and turkish military ofofficials are holding talks ts week over the e issue. this comes as a fragile, short-lived ceasefire in idlib was abandoned earlier this week, with syrian forces resuming g ar strikekes in the rebel strongho. the e britain-based syrian observatory for human rights said russian forces also struck the region with air raids. the u.n. says the bombardment campaign in idlib has killed at least 400 people and displaced over 440,000 in recent months. 17 countries, representing around one quarter of the world's population, are at risk of r running out of water according to new data published tuesday by the world resources institute.
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the countries, which include india, i iran and qatar, are facing extremely high water stress, meaning they are using up almost all of their water reserves. several u.s. cities and states such as los angeles and new mexico are also considered to be under extremely high water stress. the nunumber of afflicteted regs will continue to climb due to global heating. the world resources institute says -- "water stress is the biggest crisis no one is talking about. its consequences are in plain sight in the form of food insecurity, conflict and migration, and financial instability." in new york city, tiffany caban conceded tuesday to melinda katz in the race to become the democratic nominee for the queens district attorney. caban appeared to narrowly win the race election night but a paper count saw her lose her lead by a razor-thin margin. in the final tally, she lost to queens borough president melinda
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katz by just 55 votes after a judge refused to reinstate the discarded ballots caban's campaign was fighting for. caban, a public defender and democratic socialist ran on a progressive platform of ending cash bail, decriminalizing sex work, and going after bad landlords, cops, and immigration authorities. she vowed to keep fighting to reform the criminal justice system, tweeting -- "we showed that you can run on a boldly decarceral platform. you don't have to compromise your values or give in to fear mongering. you don't have to play by the old rules." palestinian rights advocates celebrated tuesday after the new york state supreme court ruled in favor of five fordham university students who sought to start a students for justice in palestine, or sjp, club but were blocked by the school. the judge in the case found that fordham's dean of student life's rejection of the club was "arbitrary and capricious" and
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highlighted that sjp promotes "only legal, nonviolent tactics aimed at changing israel's policies." sapphira lurie, who graduated from fordham in 2017 -- the same year the suit was filed -- said, -- "rather than allow fordham's administration to impose its backwards and imperialist politics on us, we were victorious in the fight for students' rights to organize for justice for palestine. this victory shows that when we fight back, we can win. free palestine!" dartmouth college has reached a $14 million settlement with 9 -- nine women in a sexual abuse lawsuit that accused the school for rape, sexual assault, discrimination perpetrated by three male professors. the plaintiffs said the professors created a 21st century animal house as they coerced women into drinking, and groped, leered at and in some cases raped them.
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the lawsuit called out the predatory boy's club that enabled the toxic environment and sexual crimes. dartmouth reportedly ignored reports of the professors' conduct for 16 years and allowed the men to either retire or voluntarily resign, rather than face legal or disciplinary action. dartmouth did not admit liability but said it was working with the women to improve condnditions on campus. a federal judge has temporarily blocked arkansas's 18 week abortion ban hours before it was to go into effect saying it would cause irreparable harm to those seeking abortions. the judge also blocked a new requirement that abobortion providers be certified in obstetrics and gynecology and bans providers from performing the procedure if the decision to terminate a pregnancy was based on a fetal diagnosis of down syndrome. and sex trafficking survivor cyntoia brown has been released from prison after serving 15 years behind bars for killing
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a man who sexuallyly assaulted n what shehe says was an act t of self-defense. the shooting happened when brown was jujust 16 bushe was trtrieds an adultlt. she was convicted to life in prison for first-degree murder, despite being trafficked and repeatedly sexually abused and drged. brown was granted full clemency the republican tennessee gogovernor b bill haslslam in jy afr r widereread outrage and a hihigh profile campaign n caing for her release.e. cyntoia brown said she was looking forward to help other women and girls suffering abuse and exploitation. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. toni morrison, one of the nation's most influential writers, has died at the age of 88. she died on monday in the bronx from complications of pneumonia in 1993, morrison became the first african-american woman to receive the nobel prize for literature.
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she also won a pulitzer prize in 1988 for her classic work "beloved." toni morrison was born in lorain, ohio, in 1931. she did not publish her first novel, "the bluest eye," until she was 39 years old. she wrote it while taking care of her two young sons as a single mother and juggling a day job as a book editor at random house. as an editor, she is widely credited with helping widen the literary stage for african americans and feminists. much of morrison's writing focused on the female black experience in america and her writing style honored the rhythms of black oral tradition. her work was deeply concerned with race and history, especially the sin of transatlantic slavery and the potentially restorative power of community. in 2012, president obama awarded toni morrison the presidential
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medal of freedom. on tuesday, president obama said -- "toni morrison was a national treasure. her writing was not just beautiful but meaningful -- a challenge to our conscience and a call to greater empathy." her friend oprah winfrey said tuesday -- "she was our conscience. our seer. our truth-teller. she was a magician with language, who understood the power of words. she used them to roil us, to wake us, to educate us and help us grapple with our deepest wounds and try to comprehend them." in a moment, we will be joined by three remarkable writers who knew toni morrison, angela davis, sonia sanchez, and nikki giovanni. but first, we to turn to the trailer to the new documentary "toni morrison: the pieces i am >> my grandfather bgged all theime that he and read the bible.
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and was illal in hi life to rea ultimately, i ewew thawords have power. i wanted as many people oo uld heary v voi to understand the importae of the work. gepeople ttrust, o this is somethg set, then hit th with toni morrison! early review y,y, shes gogot a grgrt talent. one day shwowon't limit it to only write abo b blackeople. as a consequence, th h had to e e atteion. 'm tid of peoe asking me the quesonon. know where isis man's energyamame fr to raise two kids, to bring other pepeopl's s lor totohe partyand also right theseovovels. > toni was an editor at rand house. i ias more interestg than
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ey were. and i wasn't afra t to sh it. >>uddenly, mckinnowas not the private property of wtete ma writers >> threw t book acss the room and walked do the stass ugughing correctnsureau o baedparadise becse it might inde a riot. i thought,owow powful l ishat? "oni morrisonublished loved" a it was extraordinyy turning point. we can never think about slavery inhehe sam way. >> a friend lled me and said, toni won the pulitzer prize. i remember holding the phone a thinking, e must bdrdrunk. > sws iss thaneared ws we n come tlove.
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that is at she ds with rds a page. amy: when weome backwe will spea to angel dis, whos autoography s editedy toni moison. we will so be tohe legenryry iters soa sanchend nikki giovan, all d dr friendof toniorrison. we wilalso hea more of toni morrison in her own words. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. as we continue to look at the remarkable life of toni morrison, we're joined by three guests. her dear friends and colleagues. angela davis, renowned activist and author. distinguished professor emerita at the university of california, santa cruz. a close friend of toni morrison for over 40 years. 1974morrison edited her
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book "angela davis, and autobiography." she is joining us on the phone. in philadelphia, we're joined by sonia sanchez, award-winning poet and one of the foremost leaders of the black studies and the black arts movement. author of 20 books, including "morning haiku" and "shake loose my skin." she was also a dear friend of toni morrison. nikki giovanni, a poet, activist, and educator. she is currently the university distinguished professor, virginia tech. professor giovanni is the author of over two dozen books. her most recent "a good cry: , what we learn from tears and laughter." we're going first to angela davis. can you talk about the legacy of toni morrison and then how you first came to know her, professor davis? morning, amy.
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i am still recovering from the news that toni is no longer with us, but i think it is important for us to recognize how her words have radically altered the lives that we live. she has helped to transform our collective sensibilities and also our awareness of the place of art and literature in the world. sometimes i think back to the slaveryhich i imagine before reading "beloved." and i realize how abstract that imagination was. , i think probably for the very first time, to menine enslaved women and
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with complexes, withctivities, inferiority. i think her work has literally revolutionized the way people all over the world think, not only about black people in the u.s., but how they imagine their andlives and their pasts their futures. i met toni morrison for the first time not long after the conclusion of my trial. she was an editor at random house publishing company. ideapproached me with the of my writing an autobiography. and of course at that particular
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moment, i was not interested in writing and a biography. -- and autobiography. was 28 years old and i thought, who writes an autobiography in their 20's? this is a project that should wait several decades. imagined the autobiography genre as something that was produced by people who , whotanding in the world felt they had lived their lives in a way that would provide models for people in the world. and i told her this, but she was very insistent. what kind -- when i explained what kind of work i might produce that might not fit into the genre of what i thought
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would be in individualistic autobiography, she persuaded me that i could write a political autobiography. had a way of creating the argument that could persuade you to do anything, so eventually i agreed. ad that was the beginning of lifelong friendship. i am so happy that i wrote an autobiography is only for the reason that it introduced me to toni morrison. amy: i want to go, angela, to a clip from a 2010 conversation between toni morrison and you, angela davis, at the new york public library. of laboriously came up on stage and immediately joked
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about how she had just had hip replacement and the rest of her her had to catch up with magic hip. it y you a b both speakingng ate event called "frederick douglass: literacy, libraries and liberation." here toni morrison talks about the legal creation of whiteness. >> the interesting thing is that y establish these laws let no blacks shall be allowed to carry a weapon ever, for any circumstances. second, any white can maim or kill any black for any reason without being charged. you see with that did to the indentured servants who are white. now they are better, freer, more powerful. they are in the same situation. they are still enslaved, but
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they can carry weapons and they can beat up black slaves without punishment. so they have this little margin of status -- nothing else. nothing else. hasthat little margin worked its way through this country since then. that was in the 17th century. and you know the southern strategy, you know, all of these you flagged race and racism as a cause or even a goal. racism is not a goal, it is a half. it is a root to power and money. that is what it is. .hat is what it is for the thing itself is just a manipulation and a tool and its
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purpose is what i just described. amy: i want to turn to nikki giovanni, poet, activist, professor, currently the university distinguished professor at virginia tech. professor giovanni is the author of over two dozen books. her latest "a good cry: what we , learn from tears and laughter." youessor, i want to see virginia tech years ago.o. it was afterer the virginiaa teh massacre. we sat in your office, and you kept getting interrupted by phone calls because you were extremely excited about preparing this event at virginia tech were you and maya angngelou would be celebrating the life of toni morrison. she was coming. it was after the death of her son. and you just wanted to cheer her her magnificence
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with the world. can you talk about how you first met toni morrison and what she has meant for you? >> well, i first met toni because i stalked her. i read "the bluest eyeye" and i lived on 92nd and cenentral park west andnd i w walked down the random h house because i never d understand how to take a subway. i walked and said, i would like to see toni morririson. thehe security guard said, is she expecting you? i said, well,l, no. he said, who arere you? she said a message back, ask her to wait. i guess she cleaned her desk or whatever and we went across the street and had a cup of coffee. when you're talking to any genius, you are shy. i don't know i if i am shy, but certainly trying to find the right words.
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we had a cup of coffee. and a relationship grew out of that. sladede died, i went and said, what should we do? up.asn't cheer her you lose a child, you cannot be cheered up, but it was to comfort. and the sister came in -- good morning, angela and sonia. we called angela right away because i knew they were close. of course, sonia came. sheer goodtit is fortune to miss someone beforore they are gone. we're talking about it today, we have lost toni but toni morrison is shakespeare. she is a storyteller like jesus. we will neverr lose toni morrison. she will always be here and she will b be here in n someone el's mind and she will look like something -- we will look like
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we're fighting about what shakespeare look l like by toni morrison will always be e with s because she has created a body of work k of genius. it will always be there. 200 years from now, we will be reading toni. professor, you mention "the bluest eye." i want to go to more of that 2010 conversation between toni morrisison and angela davis at e public library. >> when i wrote "the bluest eye," i really wanted to know why that girl felt so bad, the one -- the real-life girl who said she wanted blue eyes. we were talking about whether god existed. i was persuaded that he did. she was persuaded that he did not and her prove was that she had prayed for blue eyes for two years. two years. and she did not get them, so obviously, he was not up there. but when i looked at her and thought about how awful she
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would look -- [laughter] them, and then i thought the second thing was -- [laughter] how beautiful she was at that moment. she was incredible -- but i did not even know whether she was beautiful or not until i thought about what she might think. then the third thing is, what is she want that? think that is an improvement? and that kind of self-loathing, which is real when you don't have support, made me think of that as a real subject for a book. , oh, victim, but really how it works. as toniki giovanni, morrison talks about writing "the bluest eye" about a
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young black girl who is raped by her father, driven to madness, if you can talk about the significance of this book and why you walks to meet her -- it h's a 2000 pick for opra bookclub. she said she would not have even made a book club if it were not for toni morrison. nikki giovanni? >> i think she is right. "the b bluest eye"e" was just a metaphor. wanted to be something that c could be e seen, that she could look at yourselflf. the kid i like so much right now is renee watson, who is a big woman. she is begun writing about what it means to be a big woman and she can look at yourself because you look at yourself and he say, oh, i'm too fat. i am somebody who always needs to gaiain weight because i've hd a situation with cancer.
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i'm not fighghting cancer, i'm trying to live with them. i need to gain weight. i don't to lose weight. we live in a w world -- i turn n my television and it is like, wow, you can lose weight. i want to gain weight. but there are people who are big and nobody is writing about them except rene is s writing about them. i thinink she is a brilliant yog woman. whatwe start to look at picola have- if been able to readd rene were kwamie or able to read alexander, a shia been able to find somebody that said, but you are a pretty girl, it is all right for some you say, rape is a herbal thing.. a horrible thing.
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it is not something the personon who wawas raped did, it is something that was done to you. and so things that are done to you, you have toto find a way to push that --- yet to findnd a wy to push that back. it is not your fault. was taking the steps to say, it is not your fault. look at ohio right now. look at t dayton. happening inis america. we're got to do better, so we need a little more toni morrisonon. amy: i do want to talk about that with you before the end of the show. here you are at virginia tech, 32 peoplple killed in the e mase there. you taught the actual shooter. discussion but of when to get back to it. however, i want to go to sonia sanchez, one of the foremost leaders of the black arts movement come author of 20 books including "morning haiku" and "shake loose my skin." has domesaid what toni
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with her literature is she is made us look up and see ourselves. explain when you first orcovered her, how you teach to your students, what she is meant in your own writing. morning, sister angela and sister nikki, and sister amy. i just had surgery on my mouth yesterday, so i am hoping that you can understand what i am saying. , we were at the beginning of the black studies movement here in america and i was blessed to teach -- initiate the first course on the black woman in america, and that was at the university of pitt in 1969. of course, then i moved back to
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the east and came back home. i then had to begin to look for books and other books to include in that discussion of black women. i can of course, read "the bluest eye." let me tell you, my blue sister, when i read "the bluest eye," i sat down on the floor -- i read in all kinds of positions. sometimes in bed stretched out and sometimes on the couch sitting rigidly, sometimes walking back and forth as i read . i did not put that book down. i literally started it from the beginning and later on that night up in my study where i ended with a cup of hot tea that i began to finish that book. that this woman, this sister toni morrison, did
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something with language, with words, how she innocence in that book and all the other books untangled this language that had captured us in this place called to standhow she began those words up and how she let those words menu what her blood. so she opened up this thing called sorcery, the sorcery of our language. on she was spitting teeth our words because she was recapturing our most sacred valves, those about in our language in a place called america. book, one of the books that i always said to sister toni and people begin to
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talk about her greatest book am i said, well, you know, i always have a tape back toward "the bluest eye" because of what it ass and what it does for us black women. began to lookt and understand that in many havean cultures when you twins, it is said the first twin that comes out comes out to search and make sure it is ok for the second twin. so you come out and look around. i maintain when i teach that "the bluest eye" was that first twin coming out, searching to see if it is ok to say this, it is ok what i'm m going to say, s the fertile land for this? are the fertile eyes? is there fertile memory for what i'm going to say? and then all of the other
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children came out. but "the bluest eye" is the one that canannot to say, hey, i ist safe to do this? let me tell you what is happening out here as you prepare us to bring these other books. every time i read her, i would always put on my eyes. i was always in the eyelash of her memory, where there was always a miracle called sister toni morrison. to go to breakg and come back to this discussion. we are talking to sonia sanchez. we are talking to nikki giovanni . and we are talking to angela davis about the late, great toni morrison. she died in the bronx with
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complications from pneumonia monday night. this i is democracy nonow! back in a minute. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we continue to look at the life and legacy of toni morrison she was the first african-american woman to win the nobel prize for literature. she also won a pulitzer prize. i want to turn to an interview that toni morrison gave to the australian journalist jenna went in 1998 for the program "toni morrison uncensored." >> youou don't t think you'll er chchange in books that might incorpororate white lives into them sububstantially?
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you can''t understand how popowerfully racist the question is, can yo because yoyou could never r aska itite authohor, when he g goingo write about lalack people? or not, whehether she didid or not. even the inquiryry comomes froma positionon of being in the centr and bebeing used to b being in e center. and sayingg, yoyou know, is i ir possssible you'llll enter the mainstream?? it i is inconceceivable whererei already am is the mainstreamm stock clococks oh, no, thahat 't implatioion ofy y questi. it is a quqution of the susubjet of y your narrative,e, whether u want to alter the parameterers f it, whwhether you sesee any bent inin doing thi or willll you clearly see disadvantages and doing it from your own point of view? > t there are no o pluses fo.
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being an afrfrican-americacan wr is sort of like being a r russin writer. who writes about rusussia in russian fo russianss. and the e fact it gets translatd and read by other people e a benefit.t. it is a plus. but he is not obliged to ever consider w writing about f frenh orple were americanss anybody. amy: that is toni morrison being interviewed by the well-known endtralian journalist jana w in 1998. i want to go back to angela professor, your thoughts as you listen to that conversation. morrison completely altered our ways of thinking
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.bout grace i think about that little volume she wrote about literary criticism in which she wrote about the extent to which u.s. alwaysn the depended on the present absence of black people. her insistence on writing about the black experience, black life in thatca but not in a way demeaned or marginalized black -- what was so remarkable us theoni, she taught
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writing canf thinking,our ways of of feeling. and if we imagine slaves previously as abstract figures, she taught us that what was so remarkable about the experience of black people during slavery was not so much the suffering -- of course, when we think about slavery, inevitably, the assumption is it is all about the violence in the suffering. but what she taught us was that the most remarkable aspect of the black experience in north america was the way in which black people transformed the
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most horrendous forms of suffering into beauty come into joy. and i think we will never again be able to make the assumption that writing about black people somehow will always be marginal, as the australian journalist seemed to a simple step amy: i want to turn to toni morrison again at portland state university in 1975. looks it is important, therefore, to know who the real know theand to function, the serious function of racism, which is distraction. it keeps you from doing your
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work. it keeps you explaining over and over again your reason for being. somebody says you have no language, so you spend 20 years proving you do. somebody says your head isn't shaped properly, yet scientists saying it is. --e of you says you have no none of that is necessary. more'll always be one than. the distraction is no different and since not history, not anthropology, not social scientists seem to global -- seem capable in a strong and consistent way to grapple with that problem, it may very well
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be left to the artist to do it. amy: toni morrison speaking in 1975. a special thanks to the portland state library. professor nikki giovanni, i would like you to respond to what she said here and to her response to the australian r reporter who asked when she would incorporate white lives into her books in a substantial way, morse and saying, you can't understand how powerfully racist that question is. girl forot your literary critics or criticism. a bad day, butt that is just not what i do and not what i did with toni. i'veve had a a lot off famous fs and toni is one ofof them. one thing i offer as a friend is to be with me was not to have to explain any of it, was not to
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have to talk about it. we used to laugh because i think the only t thing -- if youou gea bunch of blackck women and black women writers together, we never talk about who is a great or the best writer, but we do talk about who is the best cook. i know i''m one of the best cooks. maya aboutight with that. you have asked since yourr question but -- i am 76. i'm just not prepared to address it, so i can't. i wondered to be here today because -- i wanted to be a today because you asked me to be here for toni and to simply say that tononi will alwaways be wih us. that is reality. toni was a storyteller. her work, for his firs i can see, goeoes directly back to the spspirituals, which is what t se was talklking abou i am a big fan of the spirituals. with that is about all i can offer. i am here to simply say i love
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toni. we were friends.s. we laughed together and cooked togetherer. when i was in new york, we went out to a couple of restauranants that we e both liked. i wantedlost her son, offer whatever comfort i could. she is the one in "beloved" he said there is not even a bench. i wanted to be a bench becaususe , not a visaetaphor furniture. i wanted to be a bench for toni. i wanted to be a bench. that is all i am here today. s son slade of herr pancreatic cancer. i want to turn to her lecture when shember 1993 became the first african-american woman to receive the nobel prize for literature. >> oppressive language does more than represent violence, it is violence.
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it does more than represent the --its of knowledge, it knowledge. languaget is obscuring or the faux language of mindless media, whether it is the crowd but calcified language of academy or the commodity-driven language of science, whether it is the maligned language of law without ethics or language designed for the estrangement of minorities, hiding its racist cheek, in its literary it must be rejected, altered, and exposed. it is the language that drinks vulnerability,
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talks it's a fascist boots under kremlin of respectability and repeat churches in as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and that bottomed out mind. languagenguage, racist -- all are typical of the languages and do not encourage the mutual exchange of ideas. amy: that is toni morrison giving her no bella dress when she was awarded the nobel prize for literature, became the first african-american woman to win that prize. she won the pulitzer prize in 1988 for her book "beloved." i want to turn to sonia sanchez, professor, award-winning poet.
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what did these accolades mean for an african-american female writer at the time, given how often these literary accolades are so dominated by white men for so long? joy to, it was such a see our dear sister toni received the pulitzer prize and most certainly receive the nobel. . was writing one night i was behind, as usual. i was watching the idiot box -- i'm sorry, the television. they flashed on that toni morrison had receive the nobel prize, so i called her house. -- there still answer was no answer. i called her house in new york and her son answered and said, she is hopeless that i called her back and i said, toni, you won the nobel! a,e said, sonia, sonia, soni
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are you drunk? i said, no, i'm not. we must really talk about this and celebrate. after we talked about it she says, let's get down to the real business of what we are going to wear. [laughter] but my dear, dear sisters, one of the things i know at this said, we die,she that may be the meaning of life, but with language, that may be the measure of our lives. thishis brilliant woman, toni morrison woman gave us the language, gave us the words. her literature assured us all that life would go on, that life does not end when we die, that the story is left unfinished with all of the people coming behind us, those young writers
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will come behind us and will great generatio amy: i want to thank you all for joining us, sonia sanchez, angela davis, nikki giovanni.
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