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    Everette Oxrider

    What struck me about Morison’s Recitatif started with the connection between Twyla and Roberta — one built on their mothers’ similar ailments whether it be “dancing” or “sickness” that prevented them from being present parent figures (and which was why the daughters were taken to a shelter). This parallel is made clear in the first sentence, “My mother danced all night and Roberta’s was sick.” Morrison gives the reader a peak into the mothers’ inability (disability) to be fully present in their children’s lives, yet makes a case for the resilience of the children. Morrison continues, narrating from Twyla’s point of view (though we don’t know her name yet):

    “It was one thing to be taken out of your own bed early in the morning- it was something else to be stuck in a strange place with a girl from a whole other race.”

    The narrator gives the reader no “clues” or indication as to what race each of the girls are — other than Mary’s and Twyla’s nonspecific racism, “they never washed their hair and they smelled funny.” The only thing we do know is Roberta’s name from the first paragraph, and Twyla (whose name we don’t know yet) confirming, “Roberta sure did. Smell funny, I mean.”

    The passage confronts the readers’ assumptions head on — we are unsure whether this supposed prejudice is towards black people, white people, brown people, etc. It underscores the author’s understanding of race to be a social construct, it tugs at the readers personal biases as to who they would sort into which race category with the generally vague information provided. This notion of “othering” and sorting via race is one I found to be echoed during our recent classes (and Dr. Tweedy’s novel). In particular, I think to our lecture on 4/15 on, “How Racism and Political Economy Affect Health, Illness, & Survival.” This makes me think about distribution of access to care, how our assumptions (even those made my doctors — i.e. example of the “crack-head pregnant black woman” in Tweedy’s book) sift patients into categories of deserving care and non-deserving of care. In light of the current crisis brewing in our health care system due to the pandemic, I wonder how racism will intersect with patient care if doctors are forced to make decisions (like in Italy) on who has a better chance of living// whose life is more important to save…

    Everette Oxrider

    Also – it might be interesting to note that Toni Morrison (the author) is a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature and is a black woman.

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