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Monday, April 27, 2015

you had to mourn amply and well

"There were many deficits in our swamp education, but Grandpa Sawtooth, to his credit, taught us the names of whole townships that had been forgotten underwater. Black pioneers, Creek Indians, moonshiners, women, 'disappeared' boy soldiers who deserted their army camps. From Grandpa we learned how to peer beneath the sea-glare of the 'official, historical' Florida records we found in books. "Prejudice," as defined by Sawtooth Bigtree, was a kind of prehistoric arithmetic--a "damn, fool math"--in which some people counted and others did not. It meant white names on white headstones in the big cemetery in Cypress Point, and black and brown bodies buried in swamp water.

At ten, I couldn't articulate much but I got the message: to be a true historian, you had to mourn amply and well."

-Karen Russell, Swamplandia!