Banning Books Bans Freedom of Speech: Toni Morrison’s ‘The Bluest Eye’ Isn’t Porn. It’s About Pain.

Brittany Talissa King
ZORA
Published in
5 min readNov 24, 2021

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Last month, a few days before Halloween, a letter was sent to the Texas Education Agency by state lawmaker Rep. Matt Krause. The letter included a compiled list with over 800 books where Krause expressed, “might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex.” The thing is, Krause hasn’t read all 850 of these books but did not hesitate to mission for their banning. One of those books was The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.

For clarity, Toni Morrison is a literary icon, and that’s not just my opinion. She was awarded the Noble Prize in literature in 1993, the National Book Award (in 1975 & 1987), and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 (and that’s literally just naming a few). Morrison has influenced hundreds of thousands of people to write, including me.

An in regards to The Bluest Eye, not only was this work instrumental to why I’m a writer, but it challenged my colorist’s views about my brown skin.

At New York University, I wrote a piece that described my childhood struggles with my skin color. I recounted a moment with my classmate that was impressionable at eight-years-old.

It was 1996, Pokémon cards were the latest obsession, Bill Clinton was re-elected President, and I was in the middle of an intense debate about the Spice Girls with my best friend, Derek. During art class at Richards Elementary in rural Indiana, two eight-year-olds debated which British pop-girl was the hottest. She’s cool-looking. She has big boobs. I like her black dress. I don’t like her red hair. Our innocent eyes scoped the five faces plastered on the CD, which spelled out S-P-I-C-E. Our playful conversation turned after Derek placed his white finger atop the only black face on the case. “She’s the ugliest,” he said; with no hesitation, a very decisive, almost factual response, She’s the ugliest. I looked at Mel B, confused and pondered; Because of her hair? Because her name is “Scary?” Because she is growling in her photo?

Then I asked out loud, to my friend, former play-husband, “Why?” His green eyes looked at my brown face and replied, “Because she’s black.” I don’t remember what I said back, because…

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Brittany Talissa King
ZORA
Writer for

Writer and journalist. I explore race and social issues through history and pop-culture. @b.talissa IG. @KingTalissa Twitter. Journalism MA — NYU.