Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hillbillies Are Misunderstood

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Hillbillies are Misunderstood.

Hillbilly is a word that is often heard in West Virginia. West Virginia has the

impression of “poor country folk”. The men in West Virginia are portrayed in the

image of coal miners and uneducated. The women give the image of being

pregnant and bare foot in the kitchen. My husband was raised in Chicago and he

took me there several years ago. We met up with a few of his friends and they to

had their opinion about West Virginia. Their exact words to me were, “Before to

long you’ll be pregnant and bare foot in the kitchen, cooking Jeff his dinner.” I told

them that it was not like that at all, but of course they have this mental image of

West Virginia being like that. That’s what they picture. They were brought up to

believe that West Virginia is really like that. That is reality to them.

Another term for that would be called self fulfilling prophecy. That means

people act on the basis of their interpretations of reality and consequently they

create that reality. We reaffirm and maintain our own version of reality. Everyone

in this world has self fulfilling prophecy. We as West Virginians would stereotype

people from California as people who are rich and spend most of their time on the

beach or surfing in the ocean. We would also think that they use the words “dude”

or “as if” in every sentence they say. It is the same when people from other states

portray West Virginians as hillbillies. If you were to ask another person from

another state what the word hillbilly means to them, more than likely they would

say, “hillbillies are backwood hicks who are dirty, crazy, and illiterate”. How

people portray hillbillies are to a certain extent wrong. Everyone has their own

opinions on what a hillbilly is. People’s opinions rarely change, especially on a

subject such as this.

The definition of a hillbilly is a person who lives in or comes from the

mountains or backwoods, especially from the South. There are different

characteristics of a hillbilly. One group is hard working, loyal, devoted to and

provide for their families. The second group, on the other hand, is the total

opposite. They do not care for anything or anyone. They like to party or drink

most of their life away. They barely work and take care of themselves, let alone a

family. But they too can change their lifestyle.

My father is a hillbilly. He grew up in the backwoods on a mountain. He was

born in 156 in a small three room cabin. He grew up in that very same cabin. My

father had to drop out of school when he was sixteen. He went to work in order to

help out his family. He still works today as one of the bosses of Southern West

Virginia Paving and has a good life. He provided for his family all those years

without a high school education. He had five children in all and now we are all

grown up with families of our own. Though my father does not have a fancy

certificate or a diploma, he still managed to raise us right and provide for us as

well. Back then when my father was young, people did not have the opportunity

that we have today to better their education.

There are some famous people in this world who did not finish school.

They too are considered hillbillies. A good example would be Loretta Lynn. She

was born and raised in Kentucky, another mountainous region. Her father was a

coal miner and he did not have a high school education as well. But he too

managed to raise his family right and teach them self respect, morals, and

responsibility. At all of her concerts Loretta Lynn makes a point to tell everyone

she is proud of who she is. She is proud to be called a hillbilly. Being a hillbilly

makes her who she is. It is part of her heritage. She is caring and kind hearted

and that is all that matters. She worked hard to get to where she is now. The way

she was brought up also made her the way she is. A hard worker and someone

who never gives up in what she believes in. I’m not saying that back then people

did not have it hard because they did. Even more so than we do today. There

was a whole lot less pay back then. When my father started working at the age of

sixteen, he was only paid seventy five cents an hour. If we were coal miners like

Loretta Lynn’s father was, then we would not get paid with money. He got tokens

which then could be used to buy milk, bread, and other food items from only the

company store. In other words, he worked for food and not money. Some

hillbillies are hard workers and they believe in what is right. So being a hillbilly is

not such a bad thing. If all the people in this world knew these facts then there

might not be stereotyping of hillbillies.

Living in West Virginia and being a hillbilly myself will too someday affect

me. I’m in the nursing program and whenever I get my degree I am planning on

going out of state and work. Whenever they see that I am from West Virginia it

will lower my chance of getting a position in that hospital or clinic. They will think

that I am less educated. They would be wrong to think that. I worked just as hard

as they did to become a nurse. I would not judge them on the basis of where they

got their education or what their I.Qs are. I would treat them the way that I would

want to be treated. I would want to be treated with respect. I am proud of who I

am and where I come from. I am not the kind of person who would lie about

where I was raised and turn my back on my homeland, family, and friends. If they

could not accept me for who I am or where I come from then I really don’t need to

be working there in the first place.

Granted, there are some people in West Virginia who do make this state

look bad and give people in other states the image of us being nothing else but

hillbillies, like Jessie White. But on the other hand, there are some really

intelligent people who have grown up here like Don Knotts, Little Jimmy Dickens,

and Kathy Mattea. They all worked hard to get to where they are today. People

believe what they are taught. They have their own reality on what hillbillies are

and we have our reality on hillbillies as hard working, honest, caring, and most of

all down home country folk who know the difference between right and wrong.

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