In her new book, Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules of Success, President Donald Trump’s elder daughter and senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump used a quote from Toni Morrison’s searing novel about slavery Beloved to ask women, “Are you a slave to your time or the master of it?”
According to NPR’s Annalisa Quinn, Trump’s book is “a long simper of a book, full of advice so anodyne (‘I believe that we each get one life and it’s up to us to live it to the fullest’), you could almost scramble the sentences and come out with something just as coherent.”
But it’s in the book’s tone-deaf use of source material that it truly runs aground.
“Trump’s lack of awareness, plus a habit of skimming from her sources, often results in spectacularly misapplied quotations — like one from Toni Morrison’s Beloved about the brutal psychological scars of slavery,” wrote Quinn.
The quote Trump chose was, “Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”
It appears, Quinn said, “in cute faux-handwritten capitals” to introduce a chapter on “working smarter.”
“Are you a slave to your time or the master of it?” Trump breezily asked. “Despite your best intentions, it’s easy to be reactive and get caught up in returning calls, attending meetings, answering e-mails …”
Beloved, released in 1987, tells the story of Sethe — a freed slave haunted by the infant daughter whose throat she slashed rather than allow the girl to be raised as human chattel on a plantation. The book takes place more than a dozen years after the murder when a mute teenaged girl arrives in Sethe’s life and drives her insane.
Morrison — who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1993 — dedicated Beloved to “Sixty Million and more,” a reference to the Africans and their descendants who died on slave ships or were killed as a result of the slave trade.
Trump was at the receiving end of a warning from primatologist, author and anthropologist Jane Goodall this week when Goodall learned that Trump had quoted her in Women Who Work.
“I sincerely hope she will take the full import of my words to heart. She is in a position to do much good or terrible harm,” Goodall said.