Teaching

The Bluest Eye

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Teaching Reflections

Explore reflections from various individuals who have taught The Bluest Eye.

TaSharra Hilson

Pinson Valley High School
Teaching AP Language

Q

By TaSharra Hilson

Who are you teaching? 
AP English 11 students

Teaching Approach
“I wanted to approach the lesson with a discussion on racism and how different races view it. By looking at how black women view racism and how black men view it, students received the opportunity to understand each side. Black men have a different plight when it comes to racism and I wanted to visit each group. Because the class is a melting pot and mixed with all races, we also wanted to understand how each group felt about the topic. We began with a debate and I gave each side a set of questions. I divided the class into two groups. One side thought that racism still exists and is more prevalent with black males and not black females. The other side did not agree with the argument that racism still exists. The two sides argued the points and developed claims. After arguing both sides, they wrote an argument essay about racism and who is most discriminated against today. They also annotated the text and answered questions about beauty-What is beauty? Who determines what is beautiful? Do men and women view beauty differently? Racism-What is it? What are the effects of it? Power and community. They made connections to The Bluest Eye and used the points as evidence in their argument essays.”

Extra Teaching Tips/Materials

* Show the video Eye of the Beholder from Twilight

*Introduce poetry that discusses racism and beauty

Reflection Two by Teacher Two

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Q

By Dr. Steven T. Moore, Abilene Christian University

Toni Morrison’s landmark first novel, The Bluest Eyepublished fifty years ago, revolutionized the world with her innovative voice. She achieved immense success and accolades and became the first black woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Dr. Cornel West declared, I’m thoroughly convinced, and one of the reasons why I think that [Morrison’s] work is not just powerful and monumental but will be read hundreds and hundreds of years from now, is that it’s really been the artists who have exercised what the Greeks called parrphesia, frank speech, free speech, plain speech, truthtelling in a sentimental nation. And when I read [her] work, I say somebody’s still serious about telling the truth about the country, and it’s painful, it’s unnerving, it’s unhousing, but somebody’s telling the truth. And I think that’s true for so many artists. [Toni Morrison’s] got a blues sensibility’ (We Better Do Something: Toni Morrison and Cornel West in Conversation). 

I, too, characterize Morrison’s work as “truthtelling”; in fact, I assert that The Bluest Eye is akin to a bluesjazzhiphop song that boldly challenges white supremacy and white dominant culture; it boldly proclaims a message that people desperately need to hear during these frustrating and surreal times of racial unrest in America. Furthermore, examining Michael Jackson’s They Don’t Care About Us and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, demonstrates how both artists are utilizing an AfricanAmerican tradition and voice“frank speech, free speech, pain speech, truthtelling”to disclose to America its bleak future if institutionalized racism is not radically dismantled. A reminder of this omen can be witnessed by the riots and protests that have occurred since the passing of George Floyd. Hence, Morrison’s The Bluest Eye can be viewed as a black song that must be heard and responded to for an urgent time such as this: And I think we’re at a moment now in which a blues nation has to learn from a blues people.’”

Reflection Three by Teacher Three

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Q

By Dr. Steven T. Moore, Abilene Christian University

Toni Morrison’s landmark first novel, The Bluest Eyepublished fifty years ago, revolutionized the world with her innovative voice. She achieved immense success and accolades and became the first black woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Dr. Cornel West declared, I’m thoroughly convinced, and one of the reasons why I think that [Morrison’s] work is not just powerful and monumental but will be read hundreds and hundreds of years from now, is that it’s really been the artists who have exercised what the Greeks called parrphesia, frank speech, free speech, plain speech, truthtelling in a sentimental nation. And when I read [her] work, I say somebody’s still serious about telling the truth about the country, and it’s painful, it’s unnerving, it’s unhousing, but somebody’s telling the truth. And I think that’s true for so many artists. [Toni Morrison’s] got a blues sensibility’ (We Better Do Something: Toni Morrison and Cornel West in Conversation). 

I, too, characterize Morrison’s work as “truthtelling”; in fact, I assert that The Bluest Eye is akin to a bluesjazzhiphop song that boldly challenges white supremacy and white dominant culture; it boldly proclaims a message that people desperately need to hear during these frustrating and surreal times of racial unrest in America. Furthermore, examining Michael Jackson’s They Don’t Care About Us and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, demonstrates how both artists are utilizing an AfricanAmerican tradition and voice“frank speech, free speech, pain speech, truthtelling”to disclose to America its bleak future if institutionalized racism is not radically dismantled. A reminder of this omen can be witnessed by the riots and protests that have occurred since the passing of George Floyd. Hence, Morrison’s The Bluest Eye can be viewed as a black song that must be heard and responded to for an urgent time such as this: And I think we’re at a moment now in which a blues nation has to learn from a blues people.’”

Resources

Additional handouts and other documents for use in teaching The Bluest Eye will be featured here.