MSNBC political analyst and editor-at-large for Salon.com, Joan Walsh has crafted a new view of American history in her latest novel, What’s the Matter with White People: Why We Long for a Golden Age that Never Was. What makes Walsh’s story unique is that she takes us through history in postwar America, showing us the America as seen through a working class New York Irish Catholic family. It’s not the history I learned in social studies class all of those years ago in junior high and high school. These are the stories I was never told. Walsh’s stories are real, they are multicultural and they provide a clear vision into America’s past, of what went into building the middle class.
Too young to recall Regan’s presidency myself, I learned a great deal about his policies, his motives and the groundwork that he laid for future presidents and economic crises. Walsh examines Clinton’s presidency as well and takes a look at the implemented changes that took place and the impact this had on our society as a whole. Walsh also spends time discussing the role of media and how they choose to “play up” certain aspects of presidencies and ignore other items. News is created on what is most shocking, when it should be created on what positive changes are occurring to better our world.
As a regular on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews”, Walsh is a strong individual who believes in what she does not because someone tells her to, but because it’s what she feels is right. In her book, What’s the Matter with White People: Why We Long for a Golden Age that Never Was, Walsh explains her close relationship with her father and how that bond helped to form her political views and her ability to speak up for her beliefs. How many of us are lucky enough to have a parent who allows us to speak our mind – regardless of if they agree or not – and who loves us for who we are, not just for what they want us to be? How many of us as parents ourselves ask our children what their thoughts are on a topic versus telling them our thoughts and assuming they will agree? It takes a dedicated conscious effort to achieve this goal; the goal of allowing ourselves and allowing the children of the future to think for themselves instead of assuming the thoughts and beliefs of those before them.
In the book, Walsh makes numerous profound statements. She shares, “I know white people still hold disproportionate wealth and power in this country. They make up an estimated 95 percent of the top 1 percent. But I’m more interested in the more than 99 percent of whites who are excluded from that top group. Whenever I am trying to figure out whether someone is more interested in equity or in racial score-setting, I ask myself, How do they feel about the top 1 percent having 40 percent of the nation’s wealth? Is it wrong, whoever the top 1 percent is, or is it only wrong because they’re almost all white? Would it be okay if the top 1 percent still controlled their gargantuan share of the nation’s wealth, as long as it was racially representative of the US population? It wouldn’t be okay with me, or with most American’s, I think.”
If you are an Independent, Democrat or undecided, you will love this book. If you are a Republican, you may find the book an interesting read, but it may not be your favorite. Nevertheless, Walsh writes a stunning portrait of America’s past and allows readers to ponder, what does our future have in store? Will history be repeated or will we move forward as a country? We will pay women the same as men? Will we establish marriage equality? Will minorities of every kind be treated as equals? Will prejudice end? What will our future hold? That is a question none of us can answer- only time can tell us what is in store for tomorrow. Only we can create what we hope our futures to be.
Walsh’s book, What’s the Matter with White People: Why We Long for a Golden Age that Never Was is available for purchase on www.Amazon.com