“When you become old, you become black.”

This afternoon I heard an interview with Walter Mosley on NPR. Among other things, he talked about how his latest novel, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, was informed by caring for his mother as she progressed through dementia.  The novel tells the story of a 91-year-old black man who’s beginning to deal with dementia himself, and of a young girl who comes into his life and tries to help. The interviewer had heard Mosley speak about caregiving at a recent conference, and recalled him saying  “a very interesting thing.  You said, ‘When you become old, you become black.’”
 
“Well it’s true.” Mosley responded. “The experience that black people have had in America forever, now anybody that’s poor, who gets really old, anybody who suffers some kind of traumatic physical ailment, they realize what it is to be pushed aside, to be ignored, to be isolated by a society that’s moving ahead only with what they believe is good.  If you’re old, you’re not good; if you’re paraplegic, you’re not good; if you’re black you’re not good.”

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