Some Kind of Tomorrow

In my apartment living room, laying on my couch, reading. My words come across the words:

“Sethe,” he says. “Me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow” (Morrison 292). 

“Is this an African Dance course?” 

My classmates and I were with our professor outside our classroom, waiting as the class prior to us filtered out when a well-intentioned woman, the instructor from that previous course, approached my professor eagerly, earnestly, repeating herself to ask, 

“Is this an African Dance course?”

I visibly winced, some of my peers held back uncomfortable laughter, my friend next to me muttered so only I could hear, “This b—.” Our books, binders, our myriad outfits that suggested that we were otherwise were irrelevant in her gaze; she just wasn’t used to seeing a group of Black students, a Black professor, outside a seminar room. But a dance group, that would make sense.

My professor gave a half smile and said, “Nah.” The epitome of cool and poise, he calmly began to explain what our class was about.

We didn’t start class right away. He let anybody that had thoughts say their piece, sometimes scratching his thick beard, sometimes adjusting his rounded eyeglass, but always listening. He then seamlessly brought our thoughts into the lesson on Toni Morrison’s Beloved. He wrote on the board: 

“Sethe,” he says. “Me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow” (Morrison 292). 

This week in “U.S. Colonial Present” we focused on rememory. Rememory, as explored in Beloved is the unexpected return of a memory, triggered perhaps when one least expects. As Sethe explains, “Some things go on. Pass on. Some things just stay. I used to think it was just a rememory. You know. Some things you forget. Other things you never do” (Morrison 43). 

That moment was five years ago, as I was preparing to go into one of my first seminars of undergrad, yet, it felt like I was reliving it. Or rather, living it for the very first time. How my body tensed, as I snapped to look up and see her smile, my peers’ shock.  A moment that I had forgotten, that I thought had passed on, but evidently lives on in my bones. Rememory is deeper than say, a flashback. I see it as grappling with the ways that power uses memory as a tool to erase the violence of the past and present the image of progress. Likewise, there are memories that we stay with, dwell on, actively remember. Rememory is a haunting of sorts, a reminder perhaps when one least expects it.

And just as we have individual moments of rememory, I wonder now, if we are in a moment of collective rememory? The survival of empire after all is dependent on erasure, a tactic that shows past violent actions against marginalized groups as past, rather than depict the ongoing colonial project as present. But the surge of #BlackLivesMatter protests take me back to other moments where the U.S. has felt like its on the cusp–is this the moment when things change? My pessimism tells me, no. Because another tried-and-true tactic of empire is its adaptability. 

But then I’m reminded of Paul D returning to Sethe at the end of the novel. A focus on love and reconfigured notions of kinship seem to suggest a way for moving forward. 

“Sethe,” he says. “Me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow” (Morrison 292). 

This past, both what is remembered and all that isn’t, is extensive, particularly for those like Sethe and Paul D who live in the afterlife of slavery. The gesture toward the end, however perhaps suggests the possibility of a radically different future. A future that is rooted more so in our relationships and ways of forming community outside the umbrella of empire than within. 


  • Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)
  • Kimberly Juanita Brown, Intro & Chs. 1-2, The Repeating Body: Slavery’s Visual Resonance in the Contemporary (2015)
  • Carrie Mae Weems, The Louisiana Project (2003)