Let me tell you about the time I met Toni Morrison. It’s been a while, so my years may be a bit off, but she visited the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale, I believe in 1989 or early 1990. I helped to set up the luncheon and I remember the buzz of anticipation from everyone because TONI MORRISON was coming to have lunch with us.
I don’t know what I was expecting. No, that’s a lie. As an impressionable twenty or twenty-one year old, I expected Ms. Morrison to come floating in about six inches above the floor, escorted by men in dark suits, sunglasses and earplugs. Because certainly, such a famous author needed bodyguards to avoid being mobbed in the street, right?
To my surprise, Ms. Morrison peeked in, as if she wasn’t sure this was the right place to be. Then she came in smiling at everyone, her salt and pepper dreadlocks pinned on her head. And she asked us to call her Toni. Yeah right.
I remember that she was quiet. When she shook my hand, she put both of her hands on mine and looked directly in my eyes. I’m not saying she was personable, in fact she was a bit on the shy side, but she made a connecting with you. I’m just glad I didn’t jump up and down, squealing “It’s Toni Morrison, it’s Toni Morrison and she told ME to call her TONI!!!!!”
I don’t care for many of her books. Some may say that “oh, you just don’t understand the Black experience”. For those who may say that, remember that no one’s experience is the same. The Black experience is not monolithic. But I digress. The point is, not that I liked her books, but that she was a published author and I MET HER. That’s all that mattered. I was simply in love with the fact that she took a chance, wrote from her heart and got published.
Which is why, I suppose, I write. I don’t write for others. I write for what I like, for what I enjoy reading. And I think that makes the process so much more fun. It’s not about sales. It’s about my personal accomplishment.
So, there’s my story. That’s how I met Toni Morrison!!
And you know what made me like her even more? She went back for seconds!!!