This afternoon, Virginia State Senator D*** Black responded on Twitter to a Gwaker story about an email he recently sent to an AP English teacher about Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Jessica Berg, the teacher, objected to State Senator D*** Black’s support of a (failed) bill that would require teachers to obtain parental permission to assign their students certain books. “If it’s so graphic that Gwaker can’t even print it for their adult readers,” he wrote, “then parents should have the right to know.”
State Senator D*** Black was referring to lines from Beloved, the novel that inspired Virginia’s House Bill 516. When arguing in support of the bill, lawmakers chose exceptionally graphic excerpts from Morrison’s books to read on the legislative floor. In one passage, according to D*** Black, a character fantasizes about raping a young girl and leaving her in a pool of blood.
.@MsBeckyLittle If it's so graphic that Gwaker can't even print it for their adult readers, then parents should have the right to know.— Senator Dick Black (@SenRichardBlack) April 6, 2016
The staff of Gwaker does not believe that examining the most lurid aspects of a work of art without context is an effective way to evaluate that work’s aesthetic or moral value, but for the sake of proving D*** Black wrong, I spent an hour searching Beloved for the passage to which he referred, in hopes of reproducing it here. I emerged with a deeper understanding of the history of racial violence and oppression in America, but could not find a scene in which “a hunchbacked older man fantasizes in detail about raping a little girl and leaving her in a pool of blood.”
D*** Black may have been thinking of the following depiction of incestual child rape from Morrison’s debut The Bluest Eye, which State Senator Thomas A. Garrett Jr. read aloud on the floor in February.
The confused mixture of his memories of Pauline and the doing of a wild and forbidden thing excited him, and a bolt of desire ran down his genitals, giving it length, and softening the lips of his anus. Surrounding all of this lust was a border of politeness. He wanted to fuck her—tenderly. But the tenderness would not hold. The tightness of her vagina was more than he could bear. His soul seemed to slip down to his guts and fly out into her, and the gigantic thrust he made into her then provoked the only sound she made—a hollow suck of air in the back of her throat. Like the rapid loss of air from a circus balloon.
Following the disintegration—the falling away—of sexual desire, he was conscious of her wet, soapy hands on his wrists, the fingers clenching, but whether her grip was from a hopeless but stubborn struggle to be free, or from some other emotion, he could not tell.
Removing himself from her was so painful to him he cut it short and snatched his genitals out of the dry harbor of her vagina. She appeared to have fainted. Cholly stood up and could see only her grayish panties, so sad and limp around her ankles. Again the hatred mixed with tenderness. The hatred would not let him pick her up, the tenderness forced him to cover her.
D*** Black also responded to a Twitter user who offered other examples of explicit sex in literature. “This is so tame compared to the other ones I’ve read. But parents have a right to know about it,” he wrote.
“Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father,” reads one of the passages that @SonarJose highlighted for D*** Black. It is from the Holy Bible, New International Version, Book of Genesis, Chapter 19, Verse 34.
Unlike D*** Black, a Christian conservative who has argued that spousal rape should not be a crime, the staff of Gwaker believes the Bible is an appropriate and invigorating book for readers of all ages.
Finally, D*** Black took umbrage with a Twitter user who jokingly asserted that the state senator’s email address is BlackDfirstname.lastname@example.org.
The staff of Gwaker may disagree with D*** Black about many things, but he is correct on this point. If you’d like to reach D*** Black with your concerns, about his opinions on literature and otherwise, you can find his actual email address right here.
The owner of the email address BlackDemail@example.com did not immediately respond to a request for comment.