Backtalk with Walter Mosley

By Meeks, Kenneth | Black Enterprise, December 2005 | Go to article overview

Backtalk with Walter Mosley


Meeks, Kenneth, Black Enterprise


Walter Mosley, best-selling author of 21 books available in 21 languages is a study in subtle literary craftsmanship. His books dissect the political and economic relationship between race and class. His latest novel, Cinnamon Kiss, is the 10th installment in the famously successful Easy Rawlins mystery series that was brought to the big screen by Denzel Washington in the 1995 movie Devil in a Blue Dress.

Born in Watts, California, Mosley, 53, is the only child of a black father from Louisiana and a Jewish mother from the Bronx, New York. His father, who died more than a decade ago, inspired Mosley to incorporate into his writings the migration west by black World War II veterans. Mosley himself migrated east to attend college before finally settling in New York.

A man with strong views and varied interests, Mosley boasts of his work with the TransAfrica Forum and his collection of more than 30,000 comic books (The Fantastic Four is his favorite series). BLACK ENTERPRISE recently sat down with him to talk politics, current events, and the state of black America.

Did Hurricane Katrina unearth the racial divide between blacks and whites, a divide that you capture in many of your books? There's been a political hurricane that has hit and made homeless many Americans who are just as lost and confused as the people who had been hit by the literal hurricane down in Louisiana. Anybody who goes down to Louisiana and sees what has happened should ask, what do these people have in common? Well, a whole bunch of them are black, and there are white people, too, but they all are really very poor. We haven't had a president since Jimmy Carter who cared about poor people. It's racist in as much that it's a disproportionate number of black people who are poor. There is race and racism in America. But there's also a class system going on in America, too.

You're on the board of fransAfrica. Is that your way of making a difference through political involvement?

It's important for me to be able to speak out, talk and tell people what l'm thinking, l'm saying black Americans should withdraw from the Democratic Party, set up an interest group, and vote on maybe eight major issues. …

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