An Open Letter To Toni Morrison, The Queen Of A Black Writer’s Heart

(Original Caption) 12/23/85- Albany, New York: Novelist Toni Morrison discusses her venture into playwriting in Albany. Morrison has earned a reputation as one of America's best fiction writers with her four novels.

An Open Letter To Toni Morrison, The Queen Of A Black Writer’s Heart

This writer reflects on her life as a devoted student of the late Black literary icon.

Published 1 week ago

Written by Zakiah Baker

Dear Queen Toni,  

I pay to you all of the homage that my heart can afford. I fell in love with you when I was 15-years-old.

I had no idea what writing could look like, what writing could feel like until I met your words. 

Thank you for the life changing lessons that have impacted my abilities as a writer so very deeply.  

At the age of 15, you taught me to be radical with my writing. Should my imagination feel the need to paint the most inappropriate picture of a mother breastfeeding a son that was well past infancy because she feared that his love was outgrowing her motherhood, that was okay. 

At the age of 16, I learned that Beloved is not a ghost story. 

At the age of 22, Pecola Breedlove showed me what happens to a black girl who grows without being loved properly. 

At 24, Nel and Sula taught me that it is not uncommon to have a complex friendship with another black woman that I love deeply but will never speak to during my younger years. 

At 26, Bride taught that white looks beautiful against midnight skin.   

Now at 29, I’ve learned to sit in my pain and feel it really well. Then, write about it, because no one can speak or write or think pain the way a writer can. 

You taught me to be fearless in the pursuit of strengthening my imagination and to care not what people think of my writing and nor their reaction to my writing.  

The biggest lesson you’ve taught me is to give up the shit that weighs me down so that I may FLY. Forever, I will carry you with me in all of my writings.  

I wish you the most peaceful rest. You have given us all of you and we are grateful. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so many times over.  


Zakiah Baker

(Photo: Bettmann/Contributor via Getty Images)


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