Cover image for What next : a memoir toward world peace
What next : a memoir toward world peace
Mosley, Walter.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Baltimore : Black Classic Press : Distributed by Publishers Group West, [2003]

Physical Description:
142 pages ; 21 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E895 .M67 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
E895 .M67 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Mosley, like many New Yorkers, has tried to make sense of the events of 9/11 - and his own reaction to them. He remembered his father's stories about World War II and how he didn't think of himself as an American until German soldiers shot at him. How did he feel - and how did African Americans feel - about the unfolding debate of what brought America to this tragic juncture. Was the displacement his father felt, a half century ago, still a part of this new generations' experience?InWhat Next, Mosley addresses these questions and others, inviting the reader into a dialogue that is brilliantly argued, and poetically concise. What Next offers food for thought and is a call to action for African Americans and freedom loving people everywhere.

Author Notes

Walter Mosley was born in Los Angeles, California on January 12, 1952. He graduated from Johnson State College in Vermont. His first book, Devil in a Blue Dress, was published in 1990, won a John Creasy Award for best first novel, and was made into a motion picture starring Denzel Washington in 1995. He is the author of the Easy Rawlins Mystery series, the Leonid McGill Mystery series, and the Fearless Jones series. His other works include Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, 47, Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, and Twelve Steps toward Political Revelation. He has received numerous awards, including an O. Henry Award, the Carl Brandon Society Parallax Award, and PEN America's Lifetime Achievement Award.

(Bowker Author Biography) Walter Mosley is the author of the acclaimed Easy Rawlins series of mysteries, the novels "Blue Light" and "RL's Dream", and two collections of stories featuring Socrates Fortlow, "Always Outnumbered", "Always Outgunned", for which he received the Anisfield-Wolf Award, and "Walkin' the Dog". He is a member of the board of directors of the National Book Awards and the founder of the PEN American Center's Open Book Committee. At various times in his life he has been a potter, a computer programmer, & a poet. He was born in Los Angeles & now lives in New York.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Mosley, noted for his Easy Rawling mysteries set in black Los Angeles from the 1940s to the 1960s, draws from the roots of his folk experience to challenge black Americans to do their part for world peace. He notes the lack of black engagement or dialogue since 9/11 and asserts that such is a loss for all Americans, if not the world. Mosley draws on the folk wisdom and struggle of his father and grandfather's generations, who came to know a sense of Americanness and freedom denied to previous generations. Mosely argues that it is, in fact, the profound awareness of this nation's flaws that sustains an African American consciousness and provides a more complete perspective that is missing in the American narrative. The black experience of the terror of lynching, Jim Crow, and slavery are experiences to which most of white America is blind. Yet African Americans have lived with a sense of hope and faith in American ideals. Mosley believes that African Americans' sharing this experience benefits the nation and the prospects for world peace. --Vernon Ford

Publisher's Weekly Review

This impassioned essay urges black Americans to take the lead in shaping America's response to the September 11 attacks. Mosley, author of the Easy Rawlins mystery series, puts forth a radical critique of U.S. foreign policy, recalling U.S. interventions in Indochina, Central America and the Middle East to assert that America often acts as a "pillager-nation" concerned more with corporate profits and cheap oil than with democracy and human rights; Arab antipathy towards the U.S. is thus more a response to U.S. economic imperialism than to religious or cultural antagonisms. Drawing on memories of his father's struggle against racism, he argues that blacks' experience of racial injustice in the United States obligates them to sympathize with oppressed peoples elsewhere and to understand (although Mosley does not condone) the murderous rage directed at America by many in the Muslim world. He exhorts blacks to take the lead in resisting the current militaristic response to terrorism and to demand that America harmonize its foreign policy with its humanitarian ideals and with the interests of the downtrodden "from Africa to Afghanistan." Interweaving the personal and the polemical, Mosley aims to shock readers out of their moral complacency; "It is up to me," he writes, "to make sure that my dark-skinned brothers and sisters around the world...are not enslaved, vilified, and raped by my desire to eat cornflakes or take a drive." Although his exclusive focus on economic motives somewhat oversimplifies U.S. foreign policy, he raises a compelling and eloquent challenge to America's role in the world. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



What Next by Walter MosleyLeadtext: When my father sat there in our darkened living room wishing that he could go out and join the mêlée (of the 1965 Watts Riots), I saw something that it took me many years to work out. He was far beyond simple outrage. He wanted revenge for all of those years that he was mistreated and for all the millions who had been murdered and robbed, raped and silenced. He wanted to go out in the streets and yell and fire his gun into the void of his oppression. Did he hate? Most definitely. Should the people he hated have been afraid of him? Without a doubt.LeRoy Mosley was the victim of a system of racism that had ruined his people for six, eight, 10 and more generations. He was the inheritor of that bitter pill. He was the survivor who now found himself with the possibility of finally getting revenge. "Burn, baby, burn" was the catchphrase of the riotous Sixties. Those words were screaming in my father's mind. He, and millions of other black men and women, hated white America for the five days of the Watts Riots; for those five days and for generations before and after them. His smouldering wrath was justified in his experience. He never once questioned his own culpability for the racist institutions and their adherents. America was afraid of my father. More than ever, they wanted the part of his mind that held this deep grudge to disappear. And if my father, and the millions that felt like him, could not drop this hatred, they wanted them to disappear.This is only natural. No one wants someone who hates them to be anywhere in the periphery. Their mere presence poses a threat. All the years before the riots white people could ignore the history and the crimes. That was a long time ago, we were taught in school. But then Lincoln freed the slaves. But now the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren of those slaves were cutting up, acting out hatred that went all the way back through centuries of abuse.Once again my father's seminal story rears its head. This time it's white America saying: they couldn't be at war with me. I never did anything to those people. But white America had to wake up, if just a little and realise that dark America was writhing in an endless nightmare. Seeing my father so wretched over his decision to stay at home during the riots made me very insecure. After all, my mother was a white woman. The Luckfields next door and many of the people my father worked with were white. My father wasn't duplicitous, either consciously or unconsciously. His friends were his friends before and after the riots. He would have died to protect my mother from harm, and he would never have hurt her. He didn't bad-talk whites because of their race. He never excused himself because a white superior criticised him. If the criticism was wrong, then he'd say so. If the criticism came from racism, he boiled. But he was always rational and responsible. My father would never become his enemy to make a point.So why did he want to go out with his gun and a Molotov cocktail during the summer of '65? Why did his heart race with a dark pride when he saw his fellow black Americans wreaking havoc? Of course, I've already answered this question. The hatred lived inside my father; it lives in the hearts of so many black people in the United States today. It is part of the legacy of slavery, racism and Jim Crow. It is something that my father and most black Americans have learned to live with. He never fired his gun or burned a building. He never allowed himself to commit the crimes that were committed against him. Most of us haven't. We understand that the choice is between building and tearing down.There is a long discussion issuing from that painful realisation, but that is not my topic. The only purpose that my father's muted rage has here is to help us try and understand the rage that men and women around the world feel towards America today, especially the Muslim population of the Middle East. The similarities are undeniable: a group of people who feel intense political and economic pressures from an external culture; people who are pushed to adhere to standards that make them outcasts in their own culture, their own skins. We see them on CNN or on the cover of our magazines and newspapers: enraged dark-skinned people burning effigies and flags, marching and loudly denouncing the capitalist imperialists - us. From Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, they rage. For decades, they say, America has interfered with their religion, their money and their rulers. Sometimes we run away. Often, we get involved with covert military actions. But lately, we've been preparing for all-out war.This sort of international politics presents a deep quandary for black Americans. I realised that when I saw Colin Powell being burned in effigy on the streets of Pakistan. They didn't think of him as a black man.They certainly didn't see him as a son of Africa. He was an American pressing American policies on a people who are sick of our policies and our representatives. They don't identify with him, but I see some of my father in their rage. I imagine 10,000 Pakistanis for every one that stands in protest. I imagine these men and women sitting in their houses feeling impotent and seeing America as their enemy. I see them wanting a world that is forever denied them. They are living in poverty in a nation surrounded by enemies. They are a people who want to realise their dreams in a world that vies to control their every thought.They hate me. I wish that this hatred would disappear, in just the same way that white America felt about my father's hatred. I find myself, oddly, in the position that whites found themselves in regard to my father's generation. Here I am, feeling no enmity towards a people who hate me. They celebrate when I am attacked and damaged. They pray for my downfall.White America recoiled at the images of black American hatred. They ran to the suburbs. They elected Richard Nixon. They complained of their innocence. And in ignorance of their own history, they believed in that innocence. White America has had centuries to hone the myth of American incorruptibility. It's hard to fault the full-faced happy Americans who believe in the Constitution and the right of every American to vote; who believe in democracy and freedom of religion and a free marketplace. Travelling in the limited circles of middle-class America, anyone would be hard pressed to deny the utopian majesty of our nation. We have clean water and automobiles, televisions in every home, and policemen who patrol the streets. We have elected representatives and free schools and vast quantities of food, clothing, medical aids, alcohol and tobacco.The America that exists for the middle class is beautiful. But there are places that deny this American Eden: poor America, working-class America and the grey area between those two suffering masses. The millions of men and women who travel the revolving door between the ghetto and prison, the children who go to bed hungry, the mentally ill, the sick and the under-educated make up a large portion of this paradise. And these suffering masses are the lucky ones. At least they have the chance of being associated with the American dream. There's the magic of wealth in America, but what about the rest of the world?Afghanistan was the poorest nation in the world before the World Trade Centre attack. And while Aids decimates Africa, we only have to look at our recent history to see the carnage that we've created on a worldwide scale: the bombing of Cambodia and the senseless, endless war on the Vietnamese people; the slaughtering of thousands in Guatemala, and the invasion of Panama. We have embargoes against the leaders of nations who never suffer want, leaving only the innocent populations to endure our punishments. Our freedom and comfort comes at a grea Excerpted from What Next?: A Memoir Toward World Peace by Walter Mosley All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.