Giving the overview of a region is a hard thing to do. Where do I even begin. There is so much going on with the Appalachia.
The past is as good of a place to start as any. A moment in time that defines the region more than any other is the Industrial Revolution, and the growing need for coal. Coal has been the center of this region since it was discovered there. In HUM 1704 at Virginia Tech we read readings about coal, and watched documentaries like “Mine Wars” to get a better understanding of what mining did to the region.
Many would assume that because mining coal brought money into the region that it has had a lasting positive affect. Not many would agree with you on this. Back during the Industrial Revolution coal companies took advantage over the regions desperate need to jobs. The companies would trap coal workers in the company town and put them in debt so they could not leave. Because of the mistreatment of the workers, many small revolts took place, and lives were lost due to this setup. The mistreatment of miners back in the day has not been the only negative affect on the region. The coal companies have been destroying the land and stopping any other form of economic growth. One term that came up a lot during HUM 1704 was “Growth without Development”. This term perfectly describes the economy in the Appalachia. They go with cycles of booms and busts based on the countries need to coal and oil at the time, this does not build infrastructure within the region, and lacking sustainable infrastructure leads to a region that does not develop.
A main problem the region has to deal with is stereotypes. If you asked most people outside of the Appalachia what the Appalachia was like, you would probably hear something about whiteness, hicks, and drug abuse. Sure there is some truth behind most stereotypes, these are not as true as most think. Yes it has a high percentage of whites, but it is not 100% white like some think. The region also has some cities, it is not hick. And there is some methamphetamine and oxy abuse, that we did some reading one, but everyone in the region does not do it. The Appalachia just has a bad wrap with the rest of the country, so it has obstacle to overcome because of those preconceptions.
It is impossible to cover the whole region in a short blog post, for example I was not able to talk at MTR (Mountain Top Removal), or the soul of the region, or the art that comes out of it. But coal and stereotypes play cover a large portion of knowledge everyone should have if they want to understand the Appalachia a little better.