HDS’s Davíd Carrasco, Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America, was a friend and colleague of Nobel laureate and author Toni Morrison. Following Morrison's passing on August 5, 2019, Carrasco wrote a eulogy, which follows below.
My friend Toni Morrison wrote in her Nobel Prize lecture “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”
Toni has died, but the meaning of her life can be found in her language and her measure is beyond our knowing. I think the Mexicans measured her best when, on the day we arrived at the national university, they greeted her with signs that showed her photo below the words, “Toni Morrison Entre Nosotros” i.e. Toni Morrison Among Us.
Because of her grace and beauty, her family and friends, her language and her readers, she remains “entre nosotros.”
What is our task now in mourning her? To remember and act on what she taught us in The Bluest Eye, Sula, Jazz, Tar Baby, and God Help the Child! Combine the inspiration with the moral task ahead. In Love she taught us the wisdom of having African American spiritual allies to give us the chance to love what we have lost. In Song of Solomon she taught us how to fly above the white terror of history when she wrote “If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it” as she is now riding Home to paradise. She gave us the way forward in the final paragraph of her novel Paradise. A woman named Piedade or Compassion sees another ship of migrants arriving in America. They are “lost and saved, atremble” at what will greet them at the borderland of the shore. The final sentence is “Now they will rest before shouldering the endless work they were created to do down here in Paradise.”
She once told me, “You know, Davíd, the real story is that the people who were treated like beasts did not become beastly.” Our Beloved Toni, who gave us new knowledge and loved us through her writings, has gone to her rest and we must shoulder the endless work we were created to do down here in the Americas. To show A Mercy to one another.