During this week of tributes to Toni Morrison, I’ve written elsewhere about my gratitude for ways Morrison opened the windows of my writing life. I had the good fortune to study with Morrison in college, and she served as my advisor for my senior thesis. Toni Morrison was the first person to encourage me to write about my own background, essentially giving me the permission I was hesitant to give myself to write about my Holocaust-survivor family’s stories. I had the privilege of her advice and support as I took the first steps of learning how to grapple with history on the page.
As if that weren’t gift enough, there was yet another sort of permission she offered, though I didn’t feel its impact until years after I’d graduated.