Sunday, April 6, 2014

Racial diversity in Appalachia

Read more on NPR's Code Switch here.  Here's the lede for Kathy Baird's story:
When policymakers and news organizations need a snapshot of rural poverty in the United States, Appalachia—the area of land stretching from the mountains of Southern New York through Northern Alabama—is the default destination of choice. Poverty tours conducted by presidents from Lyndon Johnson to Richard Nixon, almost every member of the Kennedy clan, and religious leaders like Jesse Jackson have all painted the portrait of Appalachia the same way: poor, backwards, and white.

While the economic despair and major health epidemics are an unsettling reality for the region, a glaring omission has been made from the "poverty porn" images fed to national audiences for generations: Appalachia's people of color. 
Baird quotes Dr. Aaron Thompson, executive vice president and chief academic officer for the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education who grew up outside Manchester, Kentucky, which has the lowest per capita income in the state.  Thompson is an "outspoken role model[] for young people of color in his mountain home":  
When we tell the truth about Appalachia, it's only then that we tell the real story about who we are.
* * *  
There's no one story of Appalachia, no one voice. It's time for everyone to feel like they can speak up, like their story is important

No comments: