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Recitatif by Toni Morrison

            Toni Morrison's "Recitatif,"" narrates the temporally isolated encounters of two women first brought together within the walls of St. Bonaventure, a state home for children. Despite the unfortunate event of being forced into the institution, the narrator quickly establishes a dislike for her new roommate because of their difference in skin color. "It was one thing to be taken out of your own bed early in the morning "it was something else to be stuck in a strange place with a girl from a whole other race"" (Morrison 243). The narrator further describes her roommate while recollecting an "important " statement from her absent, dancing" mother, "one of the things she said was that they never washed their hair and they smelled funny. Roberta sure did. Smell funny, I mean"" (Morrison 243). Immediately, we see this characteristic as a hint for racial distinction, but on what grounds exactly? The narrator's mother certainly intended her statement to be classify a certain race, but it may "function symmetrically for black women and for white women"" (Abel 471). An analysis based on social cues, such as stereotypes, can expose implicit, or unconscious, racial prejudices that we are not able to explicitly express. "A growing body of research in political science has uncovered evidence of a "split personality" among Americans when it comes to racial attitudes "people express different attitudes in public than they personally hold"" (Craemer 74). This variance in implicit and explicit expression has been supported by the previously stated sociological study, conducted at the University of Connecticut's Department of Public Policy. One caveat to their research is the breadth of the investigative design, which does not include the views of black respondents. Therefore, we are only allowed the bias of white respondents, which, "They generally find a powerful pro-White and anti-Black bias among their White respondents on the nonconscious (implicit) level even among respondents who express favorable views on the conscious (explicit) level" (Craemer 75).

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