This non-fiction contribution by the highly-respected African-American author addressing some of the many problems afflicting the United States today is a must-read. Written in 2000 in a presidential election year (but today more timely than ever), the socially-conscious Mosely intended his book-length essay to awaken the majority of Americans—black and white—who go through life too easily content to wear what he calls the chains of economic oppression, cultural ignorance and racial prejudice. Thus the title of his discourse.
Moseley says that while it is true that the “black experience” has taught the majority of African-Americans to be appropriately wary of the chains of oppression they have been forced to wear in all its various forms since being brought to these shores as slaves, that the real chains we all wear are not color-coded. Our labor under a corporate-controlled system is what has turned us all—whether black, white, brown, red or yellow—into products to be bought, sold, manipulated and controlled by and for a marketplace run by the 5 percent.
Mosely chastises Americans for accepting the diversionary “bread and circuses” of the sports arena, of Hollywood, of television with its stupid commercials and even more stupid programs forever dangling before us the glamor, the glitz, the power and the possessions that the majority of us can never afford. He decries the media for feeding us short little burst of violent nothingness which prevent us from identifying with our fellow humans. Mosely denounces the corporate ethic which allows our elderly to die without dignity in nursing home warehouses, our poor to suffer under an HMO system which puts profit over need, and slams the political arena as well: “What kind of democracy gives you two candidates who represent less than 5 percent of the population?” he asks.
Mosely’s writing is simple, honest, often poetic. There is a touch of naivete to his arguments, to be sure, and while I applaud his call for Americans to turn off their televisions for a few months while they ponder what they should really be doing with their lives to change things for the better, it is clearly not enough to bring about the kinds of changes he would like to see happen in this country, and worldwide. But with more people like Mosely giving a strong moral voice to the 95% who have yet to speak out, change will come.