Alice Walker: Go to the Places That Scare You

Alice Walker is a poet, essayist, and commentator, but she’s best known as a writer of literary fiction. Her novel The Color Purple won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award in 1983 and quickly became a classic of world literature. The novel is told in letters written by Celie, a woman who survives oppression and abuse with her spirit not only intact, but transcendent. It is set in an African-American community in the rural South before World War II.

“Walker’s writing is characterized by an ever-present awareness of injustice and inequality. But whether describing political struggle—as in Meridian, which deals with the civil rights movement—or meditating on the human relationship to nature and animals, as in her latest book, The Chicken Chronicles, her work conveys the possibility of change. In Walker’s vision, grace is available through love and a deep connection to the beauty of the world…Walker was born in the segregated South, the eighth child in a family who made their living as sharecroppers in Georgia. She came of age during the civil rights movement, and emerged early in her career as a defining voice in feminism and an advocate for African-American women writers. She is a prominent activist who has worked, marched, traveled, and spoken out to support the causes of justice, peace, and the welfare of the earth.” Writes Valerie Schloredt in an article about Walker in a Yes! Magazine article. Some quotes from Walker below and read the whole article here.

“I think the foundation of everything in my life is wonder. We were way out in the country, and why wouldn’t you just absolutely wonder at the splendor of nature? It’s true I had various sufferings, but nothing really compares to understanding that you live in a place that, moment by moment, is incredible. That your mother could say, “I think we’ll have tea tonight,” pull up a sassafras root, take it home, boil it, and you have sassafras tea. I mean, it’s such a miraculous universe. For a child, this magic is something that supports us, even through the hard times.”

“If you want to have a life that is worth living, a life that expresses your deepest feelings and emotions, and cares and dreams, you have to fight for it. “You have to go wherever you need to go, and you have to be wherever you need to be, and place yourself there against the forces that would distort you and destroy you. I love the uprisings, I love the Occupy movement, and I think the young people especially are doing something that is very natural. It is natural to want to have a future. It is very natural to want to live in peace and joy. What is lovely about this time is the awareness that is sweeping the planet. People are just waking up, every moment.”

“I think the War on Terror is really absurd, especially coming from a country that is founded on terrorism. The hypocrisy of that is corrosive, and we should not accept it. There is no way to stop terrorism if you insist on making enemies of most of the people on the planet. Why should they care about you? All they feel is fear. So I would stop the War on Terror, and I would start making peace with the peoples of the planet by trying to understand them. I would like us to be able to say, “If that happened to me, I would feel exactly the way you do. And what can we do from here, from this understanding? What can we do together?”

Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth
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