Red Dirt

Red Dirt:Growing Up Okie

  • Paperback

Drawing on the stories she heard in her early years, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz explores the lives of poor rural whites in the USA. She aims to take the reader into the minds of this group of people in order to understand their faith and sense of loss.

An exquisite memoir of growing up dirt poor in Oklahoma. “Love of the land is not located so much in the mind, or in the heart, as in the skin: how the skin feels when you go back.”—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Red Dirt. When the peasants are deprived of fields to work, so goes the chorus of an old Irish ballad, “All that’s left is a love of the land.” In this exquisite rendering of her childhood in rural Oklahoma, from the Dust Bowl days to the end of the Eisenhower era, writer and journalist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz bears witness to a family and community that still clings to the dream of America as a republic of landowners. Drawing deeply on the stories, often biblical parables, she heard in her early years, Dunbar-Ortiz brings to life one of the least understood groups in US history: poor rural whites. They are the backbone of the national campaigns against abortion and for prayer in school. They are also the soldiers of the militia movement and the members of a group who will come to trial this spring for the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building. Red Dirt takes us into the minds of these people, allowing us to feel both their grievous sense of loss and their battered but still-clung-to faith.