The Black Syllabus
Review | The Bluest Eye
Updated: Aug 21, 2019
“It was a long time before my sister and I admitted to ourselves that no green was going to spring from our seeds. … For years I thought my sister was right: it was my fault. I had planted them too far down in the earth. It never occurred to either of us that the earth itself might have been unyielding.”
This book broke my heart. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all, it was so much better. Just due to the title of the book I knew it’d be a deep story, and I had braced myself through the whole thing but wasn’t ready for the last section. I felt for Pecola so deeply, and know a little something about how it must feel. Colorism has been a huge theme in my life lately, and this book is a perfect example of how, not only racism, but colorism specifically can destroy a person.
The task of piecing together the different stories was unexpected, but necessary in my opinion. The story as a whole wouldn't have had the same affect on me if I didn’t go through that exercise. The string that tied all these stories together was how colorism and anti-blackness are taught, particularly to young, innocent children who don’t know any better but to believe the lie that dark equals ugly, and proximity to whiteness equals beauty. The way this belief manifests in our behaviors is astounding as well, and is blatant once you realize that this belief is universally taught. One scene that stood out to me was when Pauline found Pecola, Claudia, Frieda, and the white girl whose family she worked for in their kitchen after Pecola knocked over the blueberry pie. The way Pauline beat, scolded, and belittled her own child, while comforting and loving the white child was almost scary. I wondered if Pecola had ever experienced that kind of love from her own mother.
On the other hand, I was proud to read about Claudia and Frieda’s sacrifice at the end of the book in solidarity with Pecola and her baby. A more subtle theme that I picked up on was solidarity between Black women/girls in the face of oppression and abuse from so many other members of society (including white men, women, and children, and even Black men). This solidarity isn’t always present but it’s heartwarming when it is and fills me with hope.
This is the first book I’ve read by Toni Morrison, and I can’t wait to read the rest. She is a phenomenal writer who takes you on a satisfying journey to find all the answers to the questions you pick up along the way. This story should leave everyone questioning your own role in our inevitable racial/color hierarchy.