Walter Mosley Keynote

By Andre Banks Mar 23, 2007

A multiracial crowd of several hundred activists, organizers, and leaders listened intently and laughed wildly as keynote speaker Walter Mosley took them on a candid ride through his latest confrontations with racism and also proposed solutions that he outlines in his recent political manifesto Life Out of Context. Acclaimed novelist and social commentator Mosley did what he does best during his speech Thursday night at Facing Race: He told stories. Many of them. Photos by Brian Palmer Many went straight to problems of racism in America. Others took more circuitous, philosophical routes through Mosley’s frustrations with American politics, like an Iraq war that is distracting people from other more pressing social issues. After an introduction by Rinku Sen, he offered sweeping solutions, like radically changing the country’s electoral system and boycotting corporations, while rewriting the story of people of color who still encounter many obstacles to their social and political access. Mosley opened his speech with a vignette of stories of times when he attended all-white events and made it his job to inform his peers he was the only black person in the room. Part of Mosley’s solution to raging inequalities that exist in the world is speaking-up in majority settings—because asking whites to change their culture of dominance, he said, is like asking whites "to bring weeds into their perfect garden." One suggestion Mosley offered was writing monographs, like his recent Life Out of Context. "It’s a good way for everyday people to claim political stake in intellectual conversation." Walter added these monographs must be those weeds growing through a barrage of two-party political speech. Mosley spent a great deal of his speech reading from Life Out of Context, a provocative manifesto calling for people to identify their day-to-day needs and unify around these. But ultimately, people have to ask "what’s my context?" in a world that seeks to strip people of color a context. "What is freedom," Mosley read from his book," when racism and sexism frames our lives?" Speaking and telling the truth, "one truth every day," Mosley said, must be packaged with a real revolution that doesn’t just turn the page of race progress in America, but starts the re-write of a whole new book. A sci-fi fan, Mosley asked his audience to imagine a future where our political system runs differently. Thinking broadly, Mosley talked about how the two political parties: the Democrats and Republicans should have only 49 percent control of Congress. The rest, being full of different, more representative parties.