I’m sorry but why the fuck is the redneck one in there?
@sixth-impact That’s not a “redneck”, that’s an Appalachian student who attends Ohio University. The prejudice in your comment reveals exactly why that poster needed to be included – people from Appalachia, one of the poorest regions in the entire United States, are presumed to be less intelligent, to be “inbred”, “hicks”, and “rednecks” everywhere they go by people like you for the way they speak, as well as for their lifestyle and economic circumstances. As someone who actually helped make these posters and spoke to the Appalachian students who requested its inclusion, I can tell you that this issue is not and should not be a joke.
To anyone who saw my reblog where I said that the inclusion of the white guy was almost certainly about anti-Appalachian bias, I was right. Here it is from someone actually involved in the making of those posters.
Discrimination against people from Appalachia is actually an issue, both historical and modern, and that’s why I always cringe when we intellegent and enlightened whites always take potshots at “hillbillies.” It is not a form of “reverse racism”, it’s a category of discrimination that should be looked at in its own right as a sui generis phenomenon.
Many people of Appalachian origin are the descendants of Celtic, Irish, and Scottish slaves and indentured servants, which, in the words of Ohio University social work professor Susan Sarnoff, means that:
…white Appalachians share histories that are often closer to those of African-American
slaves than of other white immigrants–they were brought
against their will, without family, property, prospects or preparation for
the changes they would face in this country.
Historically speaking, Appalachia has also been the victim of a model of natural resource extraction that resembles what’s seen in third world nations, so much so that some scholars have even referred to it as an example of American colonialism. Coal was mined by workers in horrible working conditions and then exported to other parts of the nation for use by exploitative companies, with very little of the benefits ever returning to the workers in the form of either income or infrastructure and economic development. At the same time, there was also widespread extraction by the lumber industry. It’s no wonder that so much of American labor organization has occurred in the mining industry, in order to fight back against these conditions.
As a result of this model of extraction, poverty has always been enormously high in Appalachia, and it remains so today: 16 of the 100 lowest-income counties in America are in Eastern Kentucky. I go to school in the North Carolina mountains, and my county has a 27% poverty rate, almost double the national average of 15%. I once drove no more than 20 miles off campus on some back roads and found a one-room shack that I believe someone was living in.
Appalachians who want to escape this poverty by moving elsewhere faced discrimination by others. According to historian Ronald Eller’s book, “Uneven Ground: Appalachia since 1945″:
Convinced that Appalachians were ignorant, lazy, unclean, and sometimes immoral, community leaders bemoaned their arrival as “a sore to the city and a plague to themselves” and blamed them for rising crime, congestion, and a host of other urban maladies. “In my opinion they are worse than the colored,” complained a Chicago police captain. “They are vicious and knife happy… I can’t say this publicly, but you’ll never improve the neighborhood until you get rid of them.”
Using imagery similar to that applied to other migrant populations, especially African Americans from the Deep South, northerners developed a repertoire of ethnic hillbilly jokes that reflected deep-seated fears and a misunderstanding of mountain culture. Many of the jokes poked fun at the lack of education, sophistication, and resources of mountain migrants; others cruelly implied immorality and ignorance.
Because of this, anti-Appalachian discrimination is recognized by the government of the city of Cincinnati, whose legal code explicitly includes discrimination against people of “Appalachian regional origin” in their legal definition of “discriminate”.
Discrimination of that sort, in fact, led to eugenics programs in this country getting their Constitutional justification. In the Supreme Court case of Buck v. Bell in 1927, a white 18-year-old rape victim and middle school dropout from Virginia named Carrie Buck was ordered to be forcibly sterilized due to her allegedly poor mental capacities (she was actually a woman of average intelligence from what I understand, but it doesn’t really matter). The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that her sterilization was Constitutional and preventing what was seen as white trash from breeding was in the legitimate public interest of Virginia. In the ruling, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. commented that Buck, her mother, and her child were all “feeble-minded,” and that “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” The case upheld the legitimacy of sterilization programs all over the nation that inevitably went on to be used against women of color, and was even used by Nazi doctors to justify their actions at the Nuremburg trials.
These negative perceptions- lazy, uneducated, uncultured, white trash hillbillies- are still prevalent and accepted in society today. Their association with parts of Appalachian culture (the accent and dialect comes to mind) allows for continued discrimination today. This isn’t “boo hoo why isn’t there a white history month” stuff, this is a group of culturally distinct people who have faced unique forms of historical discrimination and oppression that persists in various forms today.
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