Reclaiming “Redneck” From History

Blogging again after a busy year off. :)

The term redneck is usually an insult these days, used by urban, hip, coastal people who went to college for at least four years, vote for Democrats, and work at high-paying high-status jobs in government or the private sector. I fit that description, except that my politics aren’t liberal/left and I don’t vote mostly for Democrats (or didn’t til Donald Trump was elected President).

However, I grew up in Texas among conservative family and neighbors. Three generations ago my paternal ancestors were all from West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Over the weekend, I stumbled across an editorial in The Guardian that I wish every American would read. I don’t agree with many of the political views held by the three authors, but I treasure the history that this op-end brings to light. The authors clearly believe that we cannot solve the problems that America faces at present by splitting into a bunch of racially- or culturally-defined groups and fighting. I agree with them.

One of the most fascinating periods of American history is the history of mining and the early labor movement centered in and around the Appalachian mountains in West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, southeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. After a cross-country trip in 2015 took me through West Virginia’s New River Gorge, I’ve been reading histories of that region. I’m glad other people are finding inspiration in the same times and places.

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