link to www.yesmagazine.org
Trump won the vote in Appalachia because people are tired of being looked down upon. Considering the work of powerful industry interests, a century's worth of negative stereotyping, and culturally insensitive protests against coal -- a source of people's pride, heritage, and income -- it's not difficult to understand how.
Putting Appalachians down has often been a means of lifting others up.
My family has lived in Appalachia for nine generations, and we have worked hard all our lives without asking for a great deal. We were never drawn to extravagance, nor did we need to keep up with the Joneses. Simplicity and family were the means to much of our happiness. As long as we had a decent home, food, and the time to watch our children grow up with a good moral compass, we were fulfilled. "It's not your needs that get you into trouble—it's your wants," my grandfather would often say.
But this lack of complication has been the subject of ridicule by many outside our communities. Among a national and now international audience, Appalachia has been viewed as a degenerate region without sophistication. The dehumanization of its people has allowed for the exploitation of its vast energy and timber reserves, and putting Appalachians down has often been a means of lifting others up: "I may not be rich, but at least I'm not a hillbilly." These forces have made maintaining our dignity a constant struggle.