In Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family, Portland-born author and University of Chicago writing professor Mitchell S. Jackson looks at the history of his own family and discovers within it the history of African Americans in the Pacific Northwest, employing the heavily footnoted, maximalist prose that was popular in the late 1990s and early aughts. In an interview with Hot 97's Ebro Darden, Mitchell describes survival math as "the calculations you have to make when you're faced with a mortal threat." Living in a region of the country founded explicitly on the promise of creating an all-white state, he and his family had to figure that math all too often. His mother's addiction to crack and his own drug dealing made the math that much harder. Throughout the book, Mitchell uses his personal stories as a jumping off point to discuss larger trends, tracing the roots of his troubles to ideas of blackness in Ancient Greece and misogyny in English literature.
by Rich Smith
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