Long Rant on Appalachian Cultural Discrimination & Hillbilly Parties/Costumes
So, here’s something that is NOT fucking okay no matter what fucking way you upper-middle class city-fucks try to spin it. Dressing up as a hillbilly for Halloween, redneck/hillbilly themed parties, indie-folk music taking Appalachian music & culture without giving it credit and simultaneously discriminating against, insulting and viewing actual Appalachians as being “less than” and “dumb, inbred, violent,” etc etc.
This is spurred by the fact that someone I once was a friend with in Florida, who knows I’m from Eastern Kentucky and come from a long line of farmers and coal miners/steel workers, told me how this hillbilly themed party he went to had “funny” costumes that were “spot on”, when he’s never stepped foot outside of a major urban city, at all, and has especially never been to the foothills/mountains of Appalachia.
Seriously. Spot on? This? Thanks, man, never knew I was a bucktoothed half-pig-half-human. Prepare for a largely incoherent rant.
Get ‘em at a young age!
You’ll see that a running theme is being toothless, having complacent “dumb” eyes, and a shit-faced type grin commonly associated with unintelligence. Another running theme is being entirely barefoot, even when the situation doesn’t call for being barefoot.
Because this is totally okay, right, and not discriminatory at all?
It’s not like these stereotypes are based on the fact that anthropologists blamed the way Appalachians lived (because living without industrialization is obviously criminal) on genetic reasons, claiming they were just genetically violent, clannish and prone to inbreeding; it’s not like instantly anthropologists took the Scots-Irish roots of most Appalachians as a way to alienate them from whiteness. It’s not like commercially, Appalachian travel guides/cards or whatever, always displayed Appalachians as being innately violent, inbred and clannish.
It’s not like Appalachians were evicted from the land they’re rural communities were built on, so it could be made into national parks, with the industrialists using government force, legal loopholes, and big words to force farmers off their land so they could build coal camps, leaving Appalachians entirely destitute, causing them to *have* to work in the mines and solidify their poverty – it’s not like this was going at the same time as anthropologists doing guided tours and distancing Appalachians from mainstream America, it’s not like these views were also held largely by the government, it’s not like Appalachian culture was then distorted and appropriated by lowland southerners who would later raid Appalachian towns & attempt (successfully at times) Appalachians into the Confederacy to fight for a war they had no material reason to fight for.
It’s not like southerners were some of the most rigid in their discrimination against Appalachians, it’s not like, institutionally, in politics and the news media, Appalachians have been forgotten, purposefully discriminated, gentrified and forced into poverty, only to be drug up every once and a while to be displayed as violent savages in movies/books or to be displayed as dumb and stupid at costume parties, or for reporters to assure everyone that the land slides and birth defects are normal to these people and they’re used to it and they don’t want it change.
It’s not like many environmentalists won’t help mountaintop removal activists because these images have been institutionally implanted in everyones head by the media, caused by the government & industrialists. Nope. Not at fuckin’ all.
It’s not like hipsters appropriate Appalachian old time music, without giving it credit, and ironically tend to be some of the first (from my personal experience) to openly insult anyone remotely Appalachian, or even just rural for that matter.
It’s not like Appalachians today inherit nothing but structural discrimination and lack of attention by the government/media, poverty three times the national average, disfigurement, some of the worst health conditions in the US, disfigurement/disease, it’s not like some are dying due to poisoned water from mining, it’s not like we have tons of cultural discrimination/stereotypes lobbed on us that hint towards a horrible past that has left this land that was once steeped in tradition and culture nothing but a former shell of itself, displaced with poverty rates three times the national average, severe substance abuse, and left it’s residents with nothing but deeply ingrained self-hatred for being “hillbillies” and “poor/white trash” that many end up traversing to urban areas, only to be met with more discrimination, bullying in school so severe that kids, in low-income communities, have to drop out; with discrimination even reaching adults to the point that they do indeed band together and form smaller communities within these neighborhoods they migrate to.
This is some of the most vile “classism ever”, it’s borderline ethnic discrimination, at least inasmuch as it doesn’t specifically go after poor Appalachians – it’s lobbed on all of us, regardless of how much money we have – we could be upper-middle class with 300k income, it’d still be felt, we’d still be made fun of, we’d still have our culture deprived from us and be surrounded by constant reminders of the fact that we're "less than" just because of our accents and the location/people we were born into. Please stop with your jokes, stereotypes, costumes, stop with your viewing us as subhuman, something “other” that can be made fun of without being problematic whenever you damn well please.They are actually violent, problematic and disgusting and not funny at all.
This man has a powerful message we all need to hear. This man shows us not to make assumptions based on someone’s outer appearance and background and shows that regardless of the culture we come from we can adapt and change for the better without giving up who we are and what we love about ourselves even if it’s something people look down on. But that is only an incidental byproduct of this video. What this man says is pure truth and wisdom and it’s something I needed to hear. This mans inspires me to stand up when I see racial injustice and helps me to not become so defensive when anyone criticizes white people.