Ivy Brashear is a tenth generation Central Appalachian, and the Appalachian Transition and Communications Associate at the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development in Berea, Ky.
I come from the land of Trump.
Eastern Kentucky is a region that many in this country – and in the media – have white-washed into a place where everyone is voting for the demagogue. Not many of the analyses I’ve seen have been able to truly get at the core of why so many ballots from my home region will go for Trump.
I’m from Viper, an expansive community split into four distinct sub-communities in the southern end of Perry County, Kentucky. My family has lived on the Left Fork of Maces Creek in Viper for five generations. They’ve been in Eastern Kentucky and Central Appalachia for 10.
Being who I am – a queer, liberal woman who has vehemently supported Hillary Clinton from the get-go – you’d think I’d be angry at Trump voters, or that I’d be confused by their choice of leader, or that I’d join in all the ridicule that’s being thrown at them. But the thing is, I understand them. I know exactly why they’re voting for Trump.
Let me explain. Perry County is in the heart of the eastern Kentucky coalfields, and even though the industry there is in collapse, it remains one of the top three coal-producing counties in the state.
But coal is not the top employer in the county and hasn’t been for some time. The top three employing sectors are health care, education and government. That’s important to remember because the narrative around coal, and the political and social capital and power surrounding it dominates life in the region.
While great wealth is generated from the coal industry in Perry County, great hardship and poverty is created in the wake of its extraction. The county – as has been the case for decades – sits at or near the bottom of nearly every single statistical measure of quality of life, including health, income, educational attainment and life expectancy.
For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/i-come-from-the-land-of-trump-and-i-know-why-hes_us_581a0c31e4b014443087af47