Black Rage and the Bluest Eye
Are blue eyes superior to brown? Have you ever experienced or witnessed an example of Black Rage? In 1970, author Toni Morrison took on both matters in her first book and subsequent ovaric masterpiece: The Bluest Eye.
Here’s an excerpt from “The Bluest Eye” that taught me, as an undergraduate in Nebraska, that rage — especially Black Rage — was real and palpable and a force in the world even if one were unable to intimately appreciate or fully comprehend its significance:
Rosemary Villanucci, our next-door friend who lives above her father’s cafe, sits in a 1939 Buick eating bread and butter. She rolls down the window to tell my sister Frieda and me that we can’t come in. We stare at her, wanting her bread, but more than that wanting to poke the arrogance out of her eyes and smash the pride of ownership that curls her chewing mouth. When she comes out of the car we will beat her up, make red marks on her white skin, and she will cry and ask us do we want her to pull her pants down.
Blue eyes are the presumptive peak of respectability in Morrison’s book as this review suggests:
“This soil,” concludes the young narrator of this quiet chronicle of garrotted innocence, “is bad for all kinds of flowers. Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear.” And among the exclusions of white rural Ohio, echoed by black respectability, is ugly, black, loveless, twelve-year-old Pecora. But in a world where blue-eyed gifts are clucked over and admired, and the Pecoras are simply not seen, there is always the possibility of the dream and wish – for blue eyes.
“The Bluest Eye” is about self-worth, self-loathing and the rape of a child at the hands of her father — “Love is never better than the lover” — and the pain of a child burying her dead bastard baby.
The larger issue Morrison raises for discussion is one of categorization by social status and economic inequality and stigmatizing by physical looks. Morrison also demands answers concerning the matter of Black Rage and its role in a community where that rage kills the self and others and even wounds the misbegotten unborn. Have you ever witnessed “Black Rage?” Have you ever experienced “Black Rage?”
Is it Racist to label any sort of rage as “Black” to indicate internalized self-loathing? Does a blue eye have greater effect and higher status in society than a brown one? If eyes are the windows of the soul, do you believe the purchase and use of contacts lenses that change your eye color indicate self-hatred and a secret solution to overcoming branding by eye color? What do you make of this color chart for colored contact lenses?
Does it suggest satisfaction with the self or does it point to discontent with natural eye color?
What color are your eyes? Has your eye color ever been used against you?
Matthew 6:22-23 (King James Version) 22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
If you could change your eye color — which color would you choose and why? My eyes tend toward hazel — though I’ve been accused of having blue eyes, grey eyes and green eyes — I guess the color of shirt I’m wearing for the day helps determine my eye color.
I don’t know if that makes me soulless or just trendy.