Walter Mosley, American crime fiction novelist of more than 40 books including, Devil in a Blue Dress, says racism will end when we realize “white people don’t exist.”
In an interview Wednesday with NPR, the writer responded to typical discussion topics; projects in queue, industry demographics and upcoming honors — namely his recent recognition given by the National Black Writers Conference (NBWC), which he first attended as a soon-to-be-published writer in 1988.
Mosley also invoked a “things that make you go hmmm” moment, when he responded to an article he wrote about the Trayvon Martin case where he questioned the varying ways George Zimmerman was racially categorized in the media as white, half white, Hispanic or half Hispanic.
He challenged our collective societal construction of race, specifically our acceptance and use of “white” to identify a culturally diverse group of people.
“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,” Mosley said. “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.”
Mosley, of a mixed background, responds that he is half Jewish and half Black when confronted with suggestions that he is half white and half Black.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Mosley brings up a very interesting view point on our race classifications. However, one major hole exists in his argument, that undoubtedly those responding to his assertion will ask him to fill. That is, what then does the term “Black” mean and what is its role in demystifying racial identity?