toni morrison could teach u jaclegs a thing or two

The holiness of the body and the power of speech are also brought together in the figure of Baby Suggs. Baby Suggs is an unchurched preacher who calls her people to love themselves by speaking in love each part of the battered body:

"Here, . . . in this place, we flesh; Flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it, love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. . . . Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them, touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face, ‘cause they don’t love that either. You got to love it, You! And no, they ain’t in love with your mouth. . . . You got to love it. This is flesh that I’m talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance, backs that need support; shoulders that need strong arms. . . . More than eyes and feet. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear em now, love your heart. For this is the prize" [pp. 88-89].

This is a physical resurrection brought on by speech, for with Morrison -- as with Walker and Hurston -- word and flesh, body and soul, belong together. Black writers know what it means for the flesh to be despised, and know that there is no life of the spirit without the body and community.

The affirmation of the physical loving body is a triumph, but pleasure taken in this achievement must not minimize its cost or the enigmatic evil that continues to haunt black writers. For white writers, the puzzle of the flesh usually has to do with the uneasy relationship of body to spirit. But many black writers observe no such distinction; their knowledge of the connection between body and spirit grows directly from personal and community history. In Morrison’s work, the enigma of bodily life revolves around color. Baby Suggs stops preaching because there is no word, words or Word that can free her from the evil of racism. "God puzzled her and she was too ashamed to say so." So she takes to her bed "to think about the colors of things." "I want to think about something harmless in this world," she says, and "except for an occasional request for color," she utters nothing, silenced by color. "‘Bring me a little lavender in, if you got any. Pink, if you don’t.’ And Sethe would oblige her with anything from fabric to her own tongue. . . . Took her a long time to finish with blue, then yellow, then green. She was well into pink when she died."

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