October 31, 2017

Jesus wouldn’t recognize the brand of fundamentalist Christianity being practiced today in a whole lot of Appalachian churches.  

Growing up, I didn’t know there was an alternative to the fundamentalist Southern Baptist Church. I spent Sundays and most Wednesday evening...

October 18, 2017

For those of us who study Appalachia's politics, Trumps popularity comes as no surprise.

Appalachia has long existed outside the economic norms of the United States, and often, it exists outside the norms of American politics, too. The result is that it is sometimes dif...

September 25, 2017

When I was a kid, I didn’t get Ticonderoga pencils very often.

The reality is that my mom usually couldn’t afford Ticonderoga pencils. Instead, I got whatever was cheapest. It makes sense, really. When pot roast is a treat rather than a regular dinner, it seems foolish...

August 20, 2017

Many of the regular readers of my blog know that, by training, I'm an historian. I teach at Brevard College, a small liberal arts college in the mountains of western North Carolina. When I was first hired at Brevard, it was to teach out a Civil War course for a faculty...

June 29, 2017

Once upon a time, I believed in the American Dream. 

In fact, I once believed myself to be living proof that it existed. I bought into the notion that if one worked hard enough, one could be upwardly mobile no matter the adversity they faced. I thought that the only lim...

May 30, 2017

My grandmother is a drug addict.

She still refuses to admit it even though most everyone around her knows that her dependence on opioid painkillers drives nearly every part of her life. At first glance, she might look like a typical little gray-haired lady, but she lies...

May 17, 2017

Poor people are cash cows. 

It makes no sense, really. One would think that poor people, by virtue of being poor, would not be profitable customers. However, for many large corporations that target the poor and working poor, there's big money to be made on the backs of...

May 10, 2017

My mother died the day she turned 55. 

This Sunday will be my first Mother's Day without her, but nearly a year after she died, I still find it impossible to be heartbroken over her passing. As I wrote in her obituary, she suffered from both mental and physical illness...

May 9, 2017

In Appalachia, our biggest export is people. 

I have heard that all my life. I continue to hear it from small-town politicians concerned about brain drain. I hear it from economic development officials concerned that the steady stream of young folks leaving town makes i...

May 6, 2017

I grew up poor. 

Often, when one reads memoirs or oral histories from folks who grew up where I did -- that is, in Appalachia, or in the South, or somewhere that's either both or in-between  -- one will see a disclaimer from the speaker or writer indicating that while t...

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