My name is Toni Morrison or I also go by Chloe Anthony Wofford, and yes, I know that you are not familiar with who I am. I was born on a chilly morning in a city called Lorain, Ohio, on February 18th of 1931. I do not remember much about childhood, I do remember that I was a kid who was basically a bookworm. I then developed my literature skills in my early years and now, I am an American novelist and I have several well-known novels that I have published until now. Some of my recognized novels are: The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, Beloved, A Mercy, and a few more. The Bluest Eye, which was published in 1970, is the first novel that I have written. I was very proud of my writing but the storyline of the book was very controversial. As a result, The Bluest Eye did not sell well as I had hoped. I believe that I was notable within the black community since I wrote and talked a lot about my experience as a black female.
1993 came as a huge year for me since I was awarded for the Nobel Prize in Literature and I gave a lecture at the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony (the Swedish Academy in Stockholm) successfully. At first, I thought, ‘maybe this is just a joke. I cannot believe this.’ I said, “Why don’t you send me a fax? Somehow, I felt that if I saw a fax, I’d know it wasn’t a dream or somebody’s hallucination.” I thought in my head, ‘we are going to have a big party tonight!’
It was probably the biggest and the best experience I have ever had in my lifetime. Never ever knew in my life that I would receive such an honour like that. Nonetheless, adding some more information about the prize I got; I was awarded for the Nobel Prize in Literature 1993, which is an English-language series of all the Nobel lectures from 1901, along with related biographical notes, prize citations, and presentation speeches. I was at the podium facing a great amount of crowd. I was asked to give a speech at the ceremony after I have received a remarkable award. My speech was about the power of language, which I believe is still remembered by many.
As part of my speech, I talked about the language in which people speak to shun others. Words that are just negative, that are used to admit people’s truth, to subjugate people, and to be “unknown” from the horror of negative things. I think language is an important part of humanity that is abused in such way. Language should be spoken to empower themselves, rather than lowering other people in a negative way.
“Oppressive language does more than represent violence, it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge, it limits knowledge.” What I mean by this is that oppressive language is basically violence, which never should be used to describe or communicate with people, but is used sadly. Violence could be both physical and oral. By saying hurtful words to people, that is violence. Oppressive language is the limits of knowledge, which limits knowledge. Sometimes, words come out of one’s mouth very powerfully. Often, they tend to not think before they blast it out. They can leave mental scars on one’s heart and it will forever be there.
“You, old woman, blessed with blindness, can speak the language that tells us what only language can: how to see without pictures. Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. Language alone is meditation,” I said as part of my speech. I am suggesting that an old woman, who is blind, but with our use of language, she can picture exactly what it is, through language. It’s the power of language. By soothing people with language, it is a medicine and a way that calms people down. The power of language. See how many things you can do for others, using language. The beauty of language. Why must this be used in a negative way? It has so many more merits of language, which must be used in a positive, bright way.
I said these remarkable lines about the power of language that are remembered by numerous, “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” This quote is a representation of how our language portrays our accomplishments in life. A great example of this would be Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil rights movement where he was able to use language and influence the minds of people, therefore giving a greater measure to his life. When I say measure, I think of the all the achievements that I have done in life, in which they can be measured.
I hope that the speech I gave at the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony influenced many young ones and just everyone in general. I hope they realize their power of language and how they can be empowered by the language they speak. Language must not be used in an adverse way that ruins people in their mind.
Language is power and a necessity for people to demonstrate their power, as a way of conveying their words, sentences, even a speech!