JTPP Vol 4, No 1 (February 2022) Article # 2


Focusses on Health, Equity and Peacebuilding as its broad theme


Black is Beautiful and, also Traumatising: A Story of Everyday Trauma in Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child

G Michelle Collins-Sibley (Professor of English and Director, Africana Studies, University of Mount Union, USA)

Recent explorations of intergenerational trauma have contributed to the re-conceptualisation of trauma as an ordinary, everyday phenomenon, particularly in the context of the black colonial and postcolonial condition. In the framework of Nathalie Etoke’s theorisation of melancholia Africana and Resmaa Menakem’s call for a somatic abolitionism, this paper explores Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child as a tale rendering visible the impact of everyday and intergenerational trauma in the body of her protagonist, Bride. Bride embodies the paradox of the black condition––melancholia Africana––with her tar black skin and wavy––not kinky––hair through a physical regression from woman to childhood; this marks the stages of her journey from abnegation to compassion and healing through resistance and redefinition. I will argue that Morrison’s novella brings the lens of trauma theory to peace praxis, exercising the social function of the storyteller to offer a model for reconciliation and peacebuilding through Bride’s journey.

Honourable Association