I know enough demography to know that I am a statistical outlier. My family is from rural, Eastern North Carolina. You do not have to be familiar to the area to understand that when said that way, “Eastern” connotes a very specific cultural geography: it is the poorer part of the state, most directly marked by European colonialism and slavery, and at the crossroads of regional immigration and economic shockwaves.

There is a geography textbook in my office with a copyright of 1919 and a handwritten inscription on the second blank page: “Property of Eunice McRae”. Eunice was my great-grandmother. We do not know where the textbook came from. It isn’t hard to imagine it was one of the secondhand books that white schools sent to Black schools as cast-offs during U.S. …

About

Tressie McMillan Cottom

Sociologist. Writer. Professor. MacArthur Fellow. Books, speaking, podcast: www.tressiemc.com

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