[Toni Morrison 2]

An interview with author Toni Morrison in 1979 about her life, work, and philosophy.

00:02Copy video clip URL Behind the camera, videomaker Julie Gustafson talks with Toni Morrison about the difficulties for mothers of leaving the home to work. 

00:50Copy video clip URL What successful black people have had to give up, and their sense of family. “It’s only speculation but I imagine that they had to give up those characteristics of the family that were strengthening for them in order to accommodate themselves to the system’s notion of success. I spent a lot of time in thinking that through… in a character I was developing in a book I wrote called Song of Solomon: What success meant to Macon Dead. What he had to do. He did have his own family, he did have his three children, his wife, etc. But in order to become this very wealthy – in those terms – black man, the devastation he had to bring to his own family and how he had to cut himself off form his sister, how he had to disassociate himself from the community, how he had as a landlord even be cruel to people who were just like him. He wanted to make it, and he did. He made it. But it’s a terrible, terrible thing to see. I’m sure it doesn’t have to be that way, but if it’s done traditionally that is what happens, a lot of the time.”

03:08Copy video clip URL How one accommodates oneself to society in order to be financially successful.

05:53Copy video clip URL The misunderstanding that causes families with one parent to be seen as “broken.” 

09:57Copy video clip URL The importance of the wedding ceremony for the black families in Gustafson and Reilly’s documentary Home. The importance of gatherings for black families and communities: “Any opportunity for what’s left of the tribe to collect is momentous!”

13:50Copy video clip URL Morrison’s definition of family as a group of people who are “biologically connected” who feel responsibility for each other: “a network that shares – feels – a commitment, feels responsible , and cares for the other person.That’s what a family really is. It is not a tiny group, a little cell of mother-father-sister-brother who, when they find one member disappointing the other, no longer want to live there, no longer want to take care of them, who find this inconvenient they quickly abandon and get rid of them, who are constantly talking about one’s particular, separate, individual, precious soul and life. But the feeling of this much wider, much wider, much freer kind of collection.”

17:05Copy video clip URL Changing the tape.



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