Sula by Toni Morrison is one of my favorite books. I have a penchant and compassion for the bad ones. I don’t look to the Mother Theresas for inspiration as much as I look for the Sulas. Sula as the bad assed heroine of this novel moves about with a no fucks given attitude that is inspiringly deviant. It’s bigger than Sula though. It’s about the ways in which intersections can serve as layers and layers of oppression. How they interlock and operate in tandem to exert an unforgiving amount of vitriol on the one being oppressed.
Sula exists solely to challenge the authority and “rightness” of that authority. As a Black woman, this flies quite contrary to this edict by white people and Black men to bend to rules that keep a Black woman submissive and self hating of her humanity. You add in this early 20th century, pre -Civil Rights era setting and I find Sula’s story quite captivating. What is it in some people where they refuse to submit to the wills of the majority? What is it about some people who say fuck your rules , fuck respectability and fuck the systems that keep me trapped and hating myself? What is it about people who have these beliefs and exist with great risk and sacrifice to themselves? And again, to center Sula as a Black woman’s cry for empowerment with a theme being the right and need to be imperfect makes Toni Morrison one of the baddest assed writers to have ever graced this earth! There’s a way of reading her works that feels so layered and yet revealing as hell to when you read it a couple of times. It sounds so eloquent and politically painful but is never spelled out with an abject vulgarity. It’s up to the reader to take from it what she will.
Rebels appeal to me as a Black transwoman because I am an active deviant from the norm. I am by virtue of existing offendable and “wrong” by myopic majority views across the board. So there’s something soothing about people who exist and live on their own terms without a damned of regard for what the majority thinks and in spite of the requisite punishment and pain incurred for honoring one’s truth.
In conclusion, Sula is a must read for any and every Black woman looking for permission and inspiration to move to her own beat. One questioning authority, conformity and what it means to love or not one’s self.