High Country to Appalachia

One of Australia's more iconic movies, based on a poem by one of our most famous poets, A.B. Banjo Paterson, tells the story of a young cattleman making a start, proving his worth in the mountains of NSW.

"He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko's side,

Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,

Where a horse's hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,

The man that holds his own is good enough.

And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,

Where the river runs those giant hills between;

I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam,

But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen".

"The Man from Snowy River" is based around an area they call the 'High Country', part of Australias Great Dividing Range which is where some of the most magnificent mountains anywhere in Australia can be found. Growing up it was an area I'd often visit for different reasons, leaving me with powerful memories and a love of the outdoors, of wilderness which I'd not trade for anything.

Exploding the Monolith: The Value of Teaching Appalachian Literature in Inner-City Environments

The following is a paper I will be presenting at the Appalachian Studies Association Annual Conference at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio on Friday, March 27.

There are, of course, similarities between the Appalachian college student and the Brooklyn one, but you won’t find them if you go looking for racial or ethnic parallels, religious ones, or even economic similarities. There may be a few superficial racial relationships, but these will prove about as significant as lumping together the Basque and the Belgian. Some of the Christian denominations may share names, but the individual churches struggle with problems distinct to their environments. And poverty in the city and in the country mean completely different things. The similarities, instead, lie in traditions of trouble and struggle, of loss, of the internal battle between desires to give up and push on, of fatalism that somehow still pushes one to fight against fate, of a ‘borderer’ toughness that Appalachia has retained and new immigrants must develop—at least until they assimilate or establish a strong enough enclave to maintain themselves by themselves—and, sadly enough, of failure. Oh, and one more: All of the groups have found themselves on the receiving end of stereotyping, insult, and discrimination.

When Will We (Really) Prosecute Hate Crimes?: A DC Election Night Attack Was One of Far Too Many!


The last few weeks have been a roller coaster for this African-American Obama supporter.  Anticipation, stress, and fear—anxious, gut-twisting paranoia.  I made nervous jokes about lynchings, and watched while Obama-supporting white colleagues and fellow Americans continued to behave, paradoxically, in the blatantly yet (officially) invisibly racist fashion that I’ve become accustomed to. 

Recently Aaron Wrote about Stereotyping Appalachians, Now Jim Webb Weights In

Will Thomas has written an interesting piece on Jim Webb's take on charges that Appalachians are racist. Jim Webb Speaks Out on Racism. Broadly speaking his Scots/Irish roots are the same, and he explains what it is, in his opinion, that "Appalachian" voters resent. As an on average poor section of the population they have gotten the short end of the stick on affirmative action, even though they too are disadvantaged.

Too Sensitive to Smears?

My growing sensitivity over disparagements of my Appalachian (Scots-Irish) background may be making me a bit more sensitive to insults to other groups—to an extent I had not realized. And, perhaps, too much so. Perhaps it is due to my anger at the assumption that West Virginians (inbred hillbillies, doncha know) voted overwhelmingly for Clinton because of inherent racism—and not because they (like people in, say, New York or California) actually made thoughtful choices between candidates.