I am a consumer of all things Appalachia. As y’all know, I am from there. Those mountains are mine and I belong to them. I feel different when I am there, a little more myself. Often when I take in journalist’s views of Appalachia I am disappointed, but not today. NPR’s 1A produced a great segment on Appalachia featuring Elizabeth Catte, author of What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia (I have pre-ordered it) and Affrilachian poet Crystal Good, among others.
You can list to the segment by clicking here.
Some highlights for me included a robust discussion of why J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy doesn’t and cannot speak for “greater Appalachia.” Why? Because “greater Appalachia” doesn’t exist. You can’t classify over 25 million people into one category. Nor can one person’s memoir describe their experiences. Also, the distinction that if you are south of the Mason/Dixon the pronunciation is App-uh-latch-uh. It matters. And the sad fact that many people from Appalachia are shamed into changing the way that they talk and associate because of the stereotypes assigned to the area.
The star of the program, though, was Crystal Good (@cgoodwoman) and her testimony about the diversity in Appalachia and her poem HE said/SHE said. She wrote the poem in response to Vance’s book. Take a listen:
I am encouraged this day because a few more truly Appalachian voices are out there speaking the truth, boldly and plainly. Cause where I’m from plain talk is easy understood.