Illustrator and artist Barry Moser grew up with his brother, Tommy, in their Tennessee home.
They shared a bedroom and went to the same school. And both grew up in an environment deeply influenced by racism and anti-Semitism. Those racist feelings stayed with Tommy throughout his life, but not with Barry.
It led to a deep divide that pulled the brothers apart for decades.
In his new memoir “We Were Brothers,” Moser tells of his relationship with his brother. He recently spoke with WFPL News about the roots of racism, and a life spent trying to weed them out.
“I don’t think that racism is necessarily so deeply ingrained that it can’t be overcome,” Moser said. “Now, I say that, yet on the other hand, when I talk about this I refer to myself as a recovering racist, and it’s because of all of that. You know, the scars that were inflicted upon me as a very young child, especially that one particular pernicious word, the N-word, it’s still there. It is in my head, and I cannot not say it.”
He said that is a “scar” that he carries with him.
Moser is Irwin and Pauline Alper Glass professor of art and the printer at Smith College. He has illustrated and designed more than 350 books.