Immediately below this post is a cut-and-paste of an article that a friend sent me recently. Essentially, it is about Fox News and Bill O'Reilly. According to O'Reilly, Appalachia (that's me) is doomed. We are sunk in a quagmire of poverty and drunkeness. This is actually nothing new. Any of us who live here and are aware of the outside world's reaction to us have heard Bill's conclusions before. I remember the first time I told my grandfather that I had encountered some instructors in college who found my culture and my dialect distasteful. He nodded and gave his stock response to news from the loud, brash world that was moving closer every day: "Things have been bad," he said, " but they are going to get worse." My uncles who had gone to WWII agreed and told me that to the world beyond the mountains, we were dim-witted, violent and alcoholic. They all advised me to "adapt." They assured me that soon or later, if we wanted to survive, mountain folks were going to have to learn to speak, act and believe like the "outlanders."... or, at least, "pretend."
I tried to adjust, or maybe a better answer is, I learned to acquire "protective coloring." I became a teacher and, after a few false starts, learned to speak in a way that did not make
administrators, principals and fellow teacher nervous. There are thousands like me, of course.
We all "walk the walk and talk the talk," that allows us to "pass." This the probably the reason why I have been an addict about stories of secret agents, pod people and spies. Was I being paranoid? I don't think so. All I had to do was to become complacent and careless. Any time that I forgot and slipped into my mountain dialect, I immediately sensed that the attitude of my peers had changed.