Unarmed black teenager James Means fatally shot by white man who called him “another piece of trash”

  • On Monday night, 15-year-old James Means was reportedly shot and killed by a man he “bumped into” outside of a Dollar General store in Charleston, West Virginia. 
  • Means, a black teenager, was said to be unarmed. 
  • That same night, police arrested William Pulliam, 62, in connection with the shooting. Pulliam had gone to dinner after the shooting.
  • Pulliam was white and carrying a gun, despite no permit to own a firearm due to a previous conviction for domestic violence
  • Pulliam reportedly “admitted” to fatally shooting Means, telling police, “The way I look at it, that’s another piece of trash off the street.”
  • A GoFundMe has been set up for Means’ funeral
  • Pulliam, whose criminal history includes physical abuse of his wife and daughter, has a history of harassing teens in the area.

West Virginia nonprofit director fired after calling Michelle Obama an “ape in heels”

On Monday, Pamela Ramsey Taylor, the director of West Virginia nonprofit agency Clay County Development, was removed from her job for posting a racist message on her Facebook page targeting first lady Michelle Obama. 

Clay Mayor Beverly Whaling chimed in, commenting on the post: “Just made my day, Pam."  In a statement to the Washington Post, Whaling, emphasized that her remark was "not intended to be racist at all.” She maintained she was just excited.

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West Virginia teacher suspended for anti-Muslim and racist tweets about “Obama’s children”

  • A teacher at Huntington High School in West Virginia has been suspended with pay due to numerous racist tweets posted over the course of a year.
  • Under the username “pigpen63,” Mary Durstein said that the suspects of the Chicago torture case “could have been Obama’s children.”
  • Durstein has also sent anti-Muslim tweets and retweeted posts that supported the deportation of Muslims. She called Muslims “the enemy.”
  • “#cashinIn #WakeUpAmerica #viewcrew Who cares if we offend Muslims at least they keep their heads on tact,” Durstein tweeted on July 18, 2015. “They’re the enemy.”
  • Cabell County Schools, the school district of Huntington High, acted swiftly when they received screenshots of Durstein’s tweets from students and colleagues. Read more

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West Virginia just joined the growing list of states with only one abortion provider

  • Last week, West Virginia became the latest state with only one abortion provider when the Kanawha Surgicenter in Charleston closed up.
  • Now the Women’s Health Center, on Charleston’s West Side, is the only abortion clinic left in the entire state.
  • West Virginia is by no means the only state with one abortion provider. 
  • A study released this month by the Guttmacher Institute found that in 2014, there were five states with only one abortion clinic: Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Read more
Appalachian English

I took a linguistics course last year and one of the most important things I learned in that course is that dialects usually considered “sub-standard” (in English these include African American English and Appalachian English among others) follow sets of rules and do have their own grammar and especially that they are able to **communicate the same information** as the standard dialect.  Being from West Virginia has meant that if I slip into the accent when I’m in Raleigh, drop the g on my present participle, or use some slang, bring up the redneck jokes, as speaking this way conveys a lack of education.  When I’ve seen extraordinary displays of ingenuity, openness and community in my state, it doesn’t sit well with me that the dialect associated with it is seen as inferior.  But what we learned in linguistics was that if a dialect does communicate the same information, it is valid.  So my fellow Appalachians, continue to drop your g’s as you discuss thermonuclear astrophysics:) Destroy the notion that these are incompatible character traits.


House of The Boogyman (1/3)

I first stumbled upon this place last January while on a random drive through neighboring Mason County, West Virginia. It was the first of a handful of houses I found that day, a plus side to the trees shedding their leaves and all of the brush dying down in the winter revealing what the hills hide during the overgrown summer months. I thought I had lost all of the photos I shot that frigid day so last weekend I decided to take another drive out to Mason County. Of course later that night while going through my hard drive I found the photos from last winter. Oh well I had an awesome much needed day of exploring regardless.