Notes On An All-American Family

Mar 6, 2019

Award-winning author Mitchell Jackson takes us inside the drug-ravaged neighborhood and struggling family of his youth, while examining the cultural forces that led him and his family to today.

Jackson candidly explores his tumultuous youth in the other America. His book, "Survival Math," takes its name from the calculations Mitchell and his family made to keep safe—to stay alive—in their community, a small black neighborhood in Portland, Oregon blighted by drugs, violence, poverty, and governmental neglect.

Mitchell explores the Portland of his childhood, tracing the ways in which his family managed their lives in and around drugs, prostitution, gangs, and imprisonment as members of a tiny black population in one of the country’s whitest cities. He discusses sex work and serial killers, gangs and guns, near-death experiences, composite fathers, the concept of “hustle,” and the destructive power of drugs and addiction on family.