by Briana Whiteside
Uncanny black women appear in a large number of works. For example, Margaret Walker’s poem “Molly Means” presents a black woman character that is feared because she is believed to be a “chile of the devil,” and she was “born with a veil on her face,” which meant she had the ability to “look through unnatural space.”
Anyanwu, the main character in Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed is feared because she has the ability to live several hundred decades more than many, and her eyes were like babies’ eyes—the whites too white, the browns too deep and clear.”
Pilate from Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon has an uncanny presence in the novel. She is believed to have the abilitiy to go months without food and turn a man into a ripe rutabaga—all on the account that she has no navel.
Toni Morrison in A Mercy introduces Sorrow as a “Red hair, black teeth” girl with “recurring neck boils and a look in those over-lashed silver-gray eyes,” that frightened most. In her presence “eggs would not allow themselves to be beaten into foam, nor did butter lighten cake batter,” and “the deaths of Mistress’ sons could be placed at the feet of the natural curse that was Sorrow.”
There is one key scene where Sula from Toni Morrsion’s Sula took her knife in her right hand, and pressed her left forefinger down hard on its edge and slashed off only the tip of her finger.” She then says to bullies, “if I can do that to myself, what you suppose I’ll do to you?”
• Uncanny Black Women: Octavia Butler’s Mary and Shonda Rhimes’s Olivia Pope