I suppose most of us ‘find’ ourselves around the same time in our lives. As we leave our teenage years and enter into adulthood we come to the crossroads of accepting that we will set aside our ideals and become our parents and ancestors. Or perhaps we figure out that our ideals have always been leading us to that path in the first place. Perhaps the greatest knowledge we achieve in this period is understanding our past. We reflect on those ideals that seemed so important at the time with our new lens of experience and perceived wisdom. We chart our growth and realize our limitations. We make a decision to no longer be burdened by trivial factors we once thought of with a life or death anxiety. We let go of all the shit that weighs us down so we can begin to fly as Toni would say.
So goes the story for yours truly. So goes the story for Macon ‘Milkman’ Dead Jr. When I was first introduced to Song of Solomon I was enthralled by the depth and intricacy of the stories Toni Morrison wove. I was refreshed by characters that seemed to be alive in my head past their appearance in my reading time. But I wasn’t prepared for the path Milkman would travel which would help bring into focus a lot of my own journey. I was merely 17 at the time, still headstrong, fiercely arrogant, and determined that even if I was wrong I would argue until I was right. The story appealed to me because Morrison is such a talented writer. In fact, for me, she is the most gifted writer I’ve read. But little did I realize that the next time I picked up the book as a college Sophomore it would leave a much more profound imprint.
In my father’s African-American-literature class I was exposed to not only a well crafted story, and theory and insight I hadn’t come up with on my own as a teen, I myself felt exposed as well. In Milkman’s character I found a great many similarities, some embarrassing. But as Milkman found himself and came to grips with his shortcomings as a child, I too found myself growing into manhood, with Solomon’s descendant as my guide.
I am optimistic and proud to be able to facilitate a discussion on what, to me, is the finest tailored story in English literature. I hope you can draw as much enjoyment and growth from this tale as I have.