Where the road Y's

Where the road Y's
is where I like to be

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ozark Stereotyping

I have been locked in because of work and personal commitments, as well as winter weather, so I have not had any Ozark Adventure to post about. But while I was meandering around other folks blogs, I ran across a comment that kind of upset me. I think I have been a little worked up already because of a television special I had seen a few days ago, so perhaps I am feeling a bit over-sensitive about my Ozark heritage, but regardless, here it goes:

WOW! Further evidence of why the Ozarks drives me crazy sometimes. The sad part is that he really thought he was giving a compliment. In his own backward, I'm-a-hillbilly way, he was, but good Lord — that type of ignorance has really bothered me for several months for some reason.

It is disheartening to me that the person who left this comment, as well as the approver, cannot see the irony of portraying native Ozark folks in a negative light under the guise of being offended by the stereo-typing of Asian folks. Why is it that people (workers, parents, teachers, children) of the Ozarks continue to be labeled and portrayed as backward and uneducated, as well as insensitive to the complexities of other groups? Why is that okay, but saying an Asian person doesn't have an Asian accent a sign of ignorance and hillbilliness?

Recently my son and I were in a grocery store and we saw a nicely dressed Asian couple accompanied by a cute little blonde haired Caucasian girl. The little girl was holding the Asian woman's hand. It really was sweet, but I burst out laughing at the strangeness of the situation. I have become very accustomed to seeing white couples with an Asian child, but in reverse it was startling, but refreshing.

Last week I watched a documentary (shallow as it was) by Diane Sawyer regarding folks from the Appalachian Mountains. At the end of the show I was so angry with her. She followed the local football hero as he claimed his scholarship to go to college, and also as he eventually failed and ended up back at home. Those kids journeys are not the same as every kid coming out of Kentucky or North Carolina - the families Diane followed around are from dying communities with few resources especially since mining has started drying up. I was angry with her for not bailing that kid out. He could have stayed in school except for the simple things like food and shelter. I kept thinking about how much money she has and how she stood back and let him fall. In my mind, she used him and his family to promote her television personality, a small scholarship set up to cover his living expenses would have been minimal to her budget or even her station's budget. I guess folks will comment that the necessity to not change the chain of events override one boy's education, but it just felt so unfair. Why do people allow themselves to be exposed like that without fair compensation? What do you think Diane Sawyer charges when she speaks at an event?

I have much more to add to this post, but my break is over -- I'll be back this evening.