Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I'm going to have to brace myself

I'm a West Virginia girl and I now live in Georgia, so the Appalachian region is definitely near and dear to my heart. I love all things a little bit "country". I can't help myself. I try to be the college educated, sophisticated, suburbanite wife and mom, but I can't quite carry it. I sometimes feel like I should be on a mountain washing clothes on a washboard and cooking on a wood stove. I can't help it. Mountain music makes my heart soar. It's who I am.

That's why the way the mass media portrays people from West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and even Georgia gets on my nerves. I swan! These people just don't get it!

So I'm cringing while I'm wondering what Friday night's 20/20 will bring, as Diane Sawyer reports on A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains.

I have my TiVo set to record it, so I will definitely be watching it. I plan to report back on how I feel about it. Diane Sawyer was raised in Kentucky, so I'm hoping it won't be the usual condescending look that is typical of a high powered news organization covering the poverty of those living in the Appalachians.

I'm not trying to bury my head in the sand here. I know there are people who are in need of some type of hand up. I know there are education issues, employment issues, drug issues, poverty issues related to that area. But those issues extend to every single area of these United States. It's not limited to the Appalachian region.

What bothers me is that many of these stories tend to overlook the proud history of those born and bred in these areas. They completely discount it, assuming that the only life worth living is the one that is surrounded by malls, restaurants, and all the other trappings of modern living.

I am touchy about this. We visited a church nearby and I refused to go back to it because they have an outreach program to the "poor deprived children" of West Virginia. I hope those kids benefit from what they are receiving and I assume the church has the best of intentions. So often, though, the result of these charity programs or newscasts is teaching the children and people of these proud and historic communities to be ashamed of their heritage. That helps no one and does a great disservice to the hardworking people who built families and lives in those majestic mountains.

Maybe the best solution is to have people who grew up in these areas give back where it is needed.

Sorry for the "no outsiders" mentality. I suppose I have to work on that.

Anyway, I'll be watching on Friday night and plan to report back.


A. said...

Oh that is near and dear to my heart!!! I HATE HATE HATE the stereotypical portrayal of people from WV by the news media.

WV has a proud and rich history. So what if things don't move at the speed of light and if the majority of the people in some counties live below the poverty line . MANY people still manage to have a wonderful slower paced life. I, for one, would take a shack on a mountain over a McMansion in the suburbs any day!

As a matter of fact, I feel trapped by my anonymous suburban life. Much more so than the freedom one could have with a sweet little homestead in the valley surrounded by family and friends.


Evil Twin's Wife said...

You all need to check out Buzzardbilly's blog She covers a lot of Appalachian stories and is very educated on the subject. Sometimes, she can go off in a different direction, but she's a wonderful writer and very funny (and a personal friend of mine, too! LOL).

Buzzardbilly said...

Evil Twin's Wife sent me this way and she was on the money: love the blog. You could be my long lost kindred spirit. I'm off to see if I can catch that show online because I missed it on teevee. On a good note, though: At least the CMT's Redneck Weddings WV couple wasn't nearly as embarrassing as the couples from other places have been.

We played bluegrass at my wedding. It also makes my heart soar. Dad played banjo. When he died, I started his obit with "on a front porch somewhere in heaven, this morning a banjo rings, fingers that age had stiffened, once more fly along those strings...."