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Thank You, Toni Morrison: The Broadsheet

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Bumble is sponsoring women in e-sports, toxic masculinity might be stopping men from recycling, and we remember Toni Morrison. Have a nice Wednesday.  

EVERYONE’S TALKING

– Rest in power, Toni Morrison. As you have no doubt heard by now, Toni Morrison died on Monday. She was 88.

Morrison is the author of 11 novels, including The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved, which won the Pulitzer in 1988. She received the Noble Prize in Literature in 1993, becoming the first African American woman to do so.

I’m sure everyone reading this has their own relationship with Morrison’s revolutionary work. (My colleague Ellen McGirt wrote beautifully about hers in Fortune‘s RaceAhead yesterday.) I’ll never forget the first time I read Beloved; I must have been in junior high. Her words were like a spell. I’d never encountered anything like it. I still haven’t.

Of course, while I was fortune enough to be moved by her work, Morrison wasn’t writing for me. As she told The Guardian in 2015:

“I’m writing for black people,” she says, “in the same way that Tolstoy was not writing for me, a 14-year-old colored girl from Lorain, Ohio. I don’t have to apologize or consider myself limited because I don’t [write about white people]—which is not absolutely true, there are lots of white people in my books. The point is not having the white critic sit on your shoulder and approve it.”

Her focus on being part of “developing a canon of black work…where black people are talking to black people” helped create the world of literature we know today. As Hannah Giorgis puts it in The Atlantic: “By its very existence, Morrison’s work expanded the literary canon and the imaginations of the authors—black and otherwise—who followed her. There is no Jesmyn Ward or Tayari Jones without Morrison, no Colson Whitehead or Teju Cole, no Paul Beatty or Jacqueline Woodson.”

In addition to reflecting on Morrison’s novels and legacy, this is an opportunity to revisit some of her essays and reviews, and to read or listen to the many insightful interviews she gave well into her 80s. As you would expect from such an uncompromising truth-teller, Morrison didn’t shy away from the hard parts of aging and facing mortality—but she never lost touch with the transcendence of writing. As she told Terry Gross in 2015:

“It’s the place where I live; it’s where I have control; it’s where nobody tells me what to do; it’s where my imagination is fecund and I am really at my best. Nothing matters more in the world or in my body or anywhere when I’m writing.” 

Kristen Bellstrom
[email protected]
@kayelbee

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

– Ousted in Ohio? Other Ohio politicians—including fellow Republicans—are calling for the resignation of State Rep. Candice Keller, the representative who said that mass shootings were caused by “homosexual marriage,” “drag queen advocates,” and “recreational marijuana,” among a litany of other factors. Related: a piece about the connection between mass shootings and misogyny. Cincinnati Enquirer

– Swiping right on FortniteE-sports fans, get ready for Team Bumble. Whitney Wolfe Herd’s dating app and social platform struck a deal with Gen.G to sponsor the e-sports organization’s first all-female Fortnite team. The partnership came about, in part, because women were using Bumble BFF to find fellow gamers. CNBC

– Filing suit. Former Tinder marketing VP Rosette Pambakian sued its parent company IAC, led by CEO Mandy Ginsberg, over alleged sexual assault by former Tinder CEO Gregory Blatt. The company has denied the charges, saying it investigated Pambakian’s accusations when they were reported and found no evidence of the incident she alleges. In her suit, Pambakian says that Tinder was home to “a misogynistic culture where female employees were marginalized and sexually harassed on a regular basis.” Fortune

– Abortion providers speak out. Five doctors who provide abortions speak out about what they do—and why they decided to go public with it. “It’s so important for people to understand how normal and common [abortion] is, especially now, and that I’m not a bad person for doing this,” says Colorado OB/GYN Angela Marchin. “In fact, I’m doing it out of the goodness of my heart and at great risk to myself.” Guardian

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Care.com founder Sheila Lirio Marcelo will step down as CEO and become executive chairman after an investigation into the platform’s failures in vetting caregivers. EQ Partners CEO Rachna Bhasin joins the board of Shutterstock. Julia Angwin returns to The Markup as editor-in-chief; former BuzzFeed VP Nabiha Syed joins as president. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

From #MeToo to Marianne. How did actress Alyssa Milano become an authoritative voice on American politics? This story charts her rise—fundraisers for Marianne Williamson and all. Jezebel

– Toxic masculinity = toxic waste. Toxic masculinity means men aren’t … recycling? The journal Sex Roles published the study “Gender Bending and Gender Conformity: The Social Consequences of Engaging in Feminine and Masculine Pro-Environmental Behaviors.” Some “pro-environmental behaviors” are associated with a feminine gender identity, and men can distance themselves from them as a result. Bustle

– 2019’s SATC. Candace Bushnell is back with her new book Is There Still Sex in the City? The original Sex and the City author went back into the dating pool in her 50s, trying out Tinder and reflecting on “her own struggle to feel sexy amidst the many unsexy realities of middle-aged life.” Vanity Fair

Today’s Broadsheet was produced by Emma Hinchliffe. Share it with a friend. Looking for previous Broadsheets? Click here.

ON MY RADAR

Hillary and Chelsea Clinton co-write The Book of Gutsy Women Guardian

I have mixed feelings about the term ‘women of color’ Zora

Eva Longoria’s three-century legacy in Texas Wall Street Journal

No more Mr. Niece Guy Men’s Health

QUOTE

“If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.”

-Toni Morrison