In a recent interview with NPR’s Tell Me More, renowned writer Walter Mosley shared his strategy on eradicating racism in America.
Mosley, one of the most prolific writers of our time and creator of the popular Easy Rawlins series, told Michel Martin that in order to end racism in the U.S. we must first realize White people do not really exist.
MICHEL MARTIN: I think many people, you know, associate you as portraying the black experience through the perspective of your characters over time in different eras faced with different situations. I was thinking about the essay that you run around the Trayvon Martin case. And you were reflecting on the way that George Zimmerman, the shooter, was described. And you said, you know, he’s identified variously as white, half white, half Hispanic or Hispanic. And you said all of these terms have their roots drenched in the lifeblood of racism. And so race is kind of one of the many things that we get wrong, right? I would say.
WALTER MOSLEY: Well, of course. I mean, the truth is, I’ve been giving this talk a lot lately that the big issue about race in America is that there really is no such thing as white people. And, you know, in order to end race in America, all we have to do is recognize that the notion a white person doesn’t really exist on any term and in any way.
MARTIN: How would you like us to think about this?
MOSLEY: Well, you know, that people think about who they are from culture, not from supposed DNA or color or what continent, you know, somebody came from a long time ago ’cause then you could start talking about European people, you know. My mother’s Jewish, of course, which makes me Jewish. And people say, well, how does it feel to be half white and half black? And I said my mother’s Jewish. That’s not white. And then slowly, I mean, over time, I said, well, nobody’s white. Gypsies aren’t white and Vikings aren’t white and the Greeks aren’t white and the Spaniards aren’t white. You know, they are who they are. You know, and they understand themselves in a certain kind of way that got redefined in America because they had to kill the Native Americans and enslave the Africans. So they had to become white people.
While I agree with Mosley’s general point, that race has been socially constructed over time, it’s hard to imagine a day when racial designations will no longer exist, particularly when some of the world’s most powerful governments were built on the idea of White supremacy.
Listen to Mosley’s entire chat with Michel Martin: