I’ve done a lot of research into the Florida Panhandle part of the state where I grew up to make sure I got the facts right for my Florida Folk Magic Series of novels. Mostly, I’m looking up things I remember just to check my memory. <g> What exasperates me, is stumbling onto stuff that, figuratively speaking happened right under my nose–and I missed it. Never heard of it, not on my RADAR, might as well have been going in in another part of the country.
Now, it’s happened again. I’m researching north Florida for another story and I find a vibrant African American community that people at levels of governement wanted to get rid of because they considered it an eyesore. They wanted the land for “better” things. “Hmm,” they said, “we’ll call our needs ‘urban renewal.'”
As I read about this, I see citations to the daily newspaper that landed in our front yard every afternoon. I see the names of the editor and the reporters from that paper all of who knew personally or was familiar with from constantly seeing their bylines.
And yet, nothing about the systemic racism disguised under various politically correct pretexts is familiar. I should mention that the community was on the other side of town and far away from the places we shopped, went to school, or saw movies. I delivered telegrams all over the city, including many African American enclaves, but never there. And yet, the debate simmered in the press and in civic and government meetings around town for about ten years.
That’s why I have to ask again, “How the hell did miss that?”
I feel like I’m researching something that happened far away rather than ten miles from my house. My parents are long gone, so I can’t ask them whether we discussed this at the dinner table. If they did, I must have zoned out inasmuch as my thinking was focused on my part time jobs, my courses, and what girl would be sitting next to me in class.
So there it is: totally unaware of a nasty little scheme that included the governor, the city council, the merchants, and the service clubs. I wish I could say that I missed all this because I was drunk.
Okay, so I have no excuse. The characters in my story are going to know about it and talk about it even if I was clueless in those days.