Saturday, May 22, 2010

Proud In Appalachia

I Am a Proud Appalachian

I am 22 million of America’s finest but most-ridiculed minority.                                                      
Call me Scotch, Irish, English, Huguenot, Native American, Melungeon, African American or European
And know me as a proud Appalachian:                                                                                       
Not as a hillbilly, not as a redneck and not as a cracker.

Many outside my geographic area stereotype me with comic common values, traits, or characteristics.                                                                                                                      
They prefer to keep me within the boundaries of their neglect and shallow despair    
While blaming me for my just rewards due to my own laziness and stupidity.

In truth, even if my pockets are light, my cultural heritage is among the richest in the land.                               
I have lived so long with lies and half-truths about my ancestors                               
That I occasionally laugh at my own dialect when others believe it reveals my lack of higher education.  

I am known for neighborliness, humility, sense of humor and modesty,                  
And, I am quick to respond to a needy neighbor in any emergency or trouble,                        
But I ruffle easily when others disrespect my religion, my independence, my self-reliance, and my patriotism.

I, as an Appalachian, believe in a real and functioning society,                                                                   Not in a world that would have me put on airs and display them in public                                                    Or boast about getting above my common rural raising.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Instead, I prefer to be a leveler who acknowledges universal friendship.               
With the tip of my cap, a wave of my hand, or a little white lie from my mouth that prevents a tenuous argument,                                                                                                           
I am bound to appease others and help them along their way.

Yes, I love to laugh at practical jokes and to tell tall stories                                         
Because these things can help lighten the burdens of friends                                                   
Or take their minds from problems that seem to abide so profusely in their homes.

I mostly believe in the “what will be will be” regarding social problems and public responsibility.   
Call me a fatalist or a Calvinist because I understand labels are just cheap dressing,                                    But tradition and dark history have taught me to embrace hopelessness as a natural human condition.

I, in my native Appalachia, would rather do things for myself to reap my own benefits.                                 
I often learn my lesson through trial and error given the room to experience failures.                
Some mistake my lags of slow behavior for ignorance, but others see through my deep distrust of new deals amid broken promises.

I am a proud Appalachian.                                                                                                    
I once was an Archaic hunter-gatherer,                                                                                  
Then, a Shawnee or a Cherokee member of the tribes of the land.                                                   
Later, I traveled with the Spanish under Narvaez and de Soto.                                                   
And, as an Ulster Scot and a German, I journeyed west through the Cumberland Gap.                 
Today, I am a proud Appalachian.                                                                                                     
I expect to be nothing more and nothing less.

Frank R. Thompson                                                                                                                            
May 22, 2010

Thanks to research by the following:

Ambrose, Heather and Roger D. Hicks. (2006) "Culturally Appropriate Counseling and Human 

Services in Appalachia: The Need and How to Address It,"

Arnow, H. S. (1996).  Flowering of the Cumberland. Lincoln: University of  Nebraska Press.
Caudill, H. M. (1962).  Night comes to the Cumberlands: A biography of a depressed area.  Boston: Little, Brown, and Company.
Hicks, R. D. (2004) Clinical supervision of counselors in Appalachia: A culturally appropriate model.  Unpublished Manuscript.
Jones, L. (1994).  Appalachian valuesAshland, KY: The Jesse Stuart Foundation.
Kimbrough, D. (2002).  Taking up serpents: Snake handlers of Eastern Kentucky. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press.
Lee, W. M. (1999).  An introduction to multicultural counselingPhiladelphia: Taylor and Francis Group.
Loganbill, C., Hardy, E., & Delworth, U.  (1982).  Supervision: A conceptual model. Counseling Psychologist, 10, 3-42.
Raitz, K. B. and Ulack, R.  (1984).   Appalachia: A regional geography. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.
Slone, V.M.  (1979).  What my heart wants to tellLexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky.
Smith, R. D. (2000). Can’t you hear me callin’: The life of bill Monroe, father of bluegrass.  Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company.
Still, J. (1975).   The wolfpen rusties: Appalachian riddles and gee-haw whimmy diddles.  New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons. 


Dave E said...

I've been gone for 25yrs but I'm still proud to call Appalachia, HOME!!

Frank's Think Tank said...

Amen, Dave. I love my home and I think it's still one of the most beautiful places in the country.