February 23rd, 2008

reading, activism, writing

Book # 7: Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Roxie's kin never fled to California, they stayed in Oklahoma trying to take root in the red dirt. But poverty, landlessness, prejudice, and addiction stood in the way.

Dunbar-Ortiz focuses on her childhood, describing family and friends. During the Red Scare, a time of paranoia about the influence of communists on US politics and the working class, she worries about her grandfather's membership the the radical group The Wobblies. She goes through a period of intense patriotism, later joining the radical movement in the 1960's. Because her mother is part Native-American, she is subjected to humiliating discrimination.

Red Dirt is about survival and what we believe to be a bye-gone era of dirt farmers and outhouses. Unfortunately some of those conditions still prevail in the rural countryside (not to mention all over the world).

Luckily, for a child, normal conditions are just that, "normal" until one is shown great wealth, it just feels like home.