Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hillbilly Elegy: Another generalization of Appalachia

All last fall I resisted reading J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy. The bad reviews I saw from other Appalachians convinced me it would make me mad. In October, I went to a mayoral forum and the women behind me were talking … Continue reading

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Identity crisis: without coal, who will we be?

I have been trying for the past month to figure out how to write about the presidential election and Appalachia’s role in it. As an ex-pat Appalachian, friends have asked me why my home region voted for Trump. I am … Continue reading

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Appalachia this election year: So many stories, so little depth

The time has come upon us again when reporters for national publications descend upon the poorest parts of Appalachia like locusts to write stories about What is Wrong With the Poor Despairing Rural Hillbilly. This year it is couched as … Continue reading

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Can I make peace with “hillbilly”?

A while back, a Facebook friend referred to someone he disliked as a hillbilly. The person was from the mountains and was being a bigot. Hillbilly was the only word for her he used, as if it summed up the … Continue reading

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Expecting to leave

Earlier this week, WV Public Radio show Inside Appalachia posed a question on Twitter: did Appalachian ex-patriates regret leaving? Were they homesick? How did they alleviate that? My answer is probably obvious — I named my blog The Homesick Appalachian, … Continue reading

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Old time is the best time

This week I’m going to camp. With my mother. Yes, I am a full-grown adult. We go to old-time music camp, her with her banjo and me with my fiddle. My sister and her banjo came with us last year … Continue reading

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A coal miner’s granddaughter in the Baldwin-Felts house

If you asked my grandfather, he would probably say he loves God, his family and the UMWA, in that order. He spent his working years in the Virginia and West Virginia coalfields, as a miner and then driving a coal … Continue reading

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Who should tell our stories?

There’s a story told about old-time musician Tommy Jarrell. In the 1970’s, when people from outside Appalachia discovered Appalachian old-time music and were beating a path to sit with the old men (and women) and hear them play and learn … Continue reading

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Lynchings in Southwest Virginia

Recently, the New  York Times wrote about a new report (found here) from the Equal Justice Initiative, documenting nearly 4,000 racial lynchings of blacks across the southern states between 1877 and 1950.  According to a summary of the EJI report, … Continue reading

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Appalachian code switching

Last week NPR started an interesting conversation on Twitter by asking if public radio voices are “too white” and if those white-sounding public radio voices are limiting the audience, shutting out people who don’t necessarily choose to listen to people who … Continue reading

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