For some Appalachians, we’ve been in a bad mood for a long, long time

2015-09-14-1442219413-4801290-Closeup_of_protesters_at_Ginowan_protests_20091108Getting your feelings hurt in this day and age, is a very complex and sensitive subject.

In the days of old, you just puffed up, stuck your lip out and pouted about it until it got someone’s attention. These days, you have a blog, Twitter or you go out, protest, tear down a few statues, spit in someone’s face, wave a flag in the air, punch someone in the face, yell racial epithets at someone or worse, kill someone and then tell the public or the media that you were made that way because of society.

There are things I don’t like in this world, but that doesn’t give me the right to go and make a total ass of myself, go out and kill someone and in the name of what I am protesting about and say society made me that way.

Social media has been a positive but also a harbinger of some of the most terrible behavior in mankind.  Yes, I have been in trouble for speaking my mind, saying things that I shouldn’t have said, giving an opinion on social media without considering the consequences, but never have I intended to hurt someone with malice.

I haven’t been quite the same since the events in Charlottesville this past weekend. I even had a “premonition”, so to speak that this Robert E. Lee statue debate was going to come down to the events of Saturday, August 12, 2017, when I began hearing of the Charlottesville City Council’s plan to remove the statue back in the late winter/early spring.

I viewed the statue as history and a symbol of the name of the park.  After the name was changed from Lee Park to Emancipation Park, I was fearful they would remove the statue before I would be back in town again, so on a weekend trip in early March to see UVa play basketball, I went downtown to take a picture and save it because it is history and I truly didn’t know if I would ever see it again. It wasn’t because I idolize or consider Lee, a Southern God or that I hold dear the ways of the South from The Civil War or the War Between the States.

I’m a history buff. Have been for as long as I can remember and the history blaze got reignited when I went back to college several years ago to take some teacher education classes at UVa-Wise. It was there that Brian Wills and later Dana Sample took me on a time machine ride of my life after re-igniting that fire inside and making me realize some things weren’t the way they were taught when I was in high school and that history is to be interpreted and discussed but held in reverence.

Don’t misunderstand me. I had a great U.S. History teacher in Ralph Cummins back in high school at Clintwood but instructors like Wills and Sample took it a step further. When I was introduced to the Antebellum South in a class through Wills,  I discovered slavery wasn’t just a “black” issue and The Civil War wasn’t just a war about slavery but other issues, I began to take notice.

It was about that time, Brent Kennedy shocked central Appalachia with his book, “The Melungeons” and I discovered that he and I shared kin through our common ancestor, Andrew Jackson “Brandy Jack” Mullins. Brent wrote that many of the Melungeons, people of mixed ethnic heritage, were treated as bad or in some cases, worse than some black slaves. I took notice even more.

And when I was blessed to have had Dana Sample for Western Civ, I finally got it when it came to the theory of the master race, the evil of the Nazis, the Soviets and the atrocities of the Holocaust.

A lot has happened in 150-plus years and some of us have learned a lot while others haven’t or digressed backward. It’s hard to wear the shoes of the 21st Century and then place yourself in the world of the 19th Century and say, “This is what I will do.” George Orwell wrote in his book, “1984” that history and all of the cold hard facts are being sanitized and edited for public re-consumption, “homogenized” if you will. You could say that today, it is being reinterpreted, re-imagined; a fast food view on history in a fast food consumption minded world. Let’s try and please everybody.

While I was in high school, I knew NOTHING of the Melungeons.  In fact, when I first heard the word, Melungeon, it was associated with bad people and those were bad people you didn’t discuss.  I found out later that association couldn’t have been further from the truth.

For example, did you know that the Melungeons, neither black or white but of mixed racial or ethnic heritage, had land and property taken away from them by the courts because it was felt that they weren’t entitled to it because of the color of their skin? Even if they had worked themselves to the bone to earn every penny, it was taken away to benefit the man or the power in charge.

I’ve heard the stories of African Americans being subjected to a “poll tax” when they went to vote but I also know of many white, poor Americans, Appalachians included, that were subjected to a “poll tax” and had to demonstrate they could read among other litmus tests, before being allowed to vote. My dad told me of instances like these.

There was a group of Indians at one time, that did not receive official recognition as a true Indian tribe whether by other certified Indian tribes or the government because it was questioned if they really were pure blood and not mixed descent.

Although I have never had a DNA test, I know I have mixed heritage in me. Based upon family accounts of some American Indian (Cherokee), Dutch, mixed with Scotch-Irish and claims of Melungeon and who knows what else, I know I have a mixed heritage despite recent claims by some, disputing the whole Melungeon theory.

So let’s face it, we as a race on this planet, in Virginia, in these Appalachian mountains, are a bunch of mutts and of those mutts are a bunch of nutty, overly sensitive mutts who think they are a pure breed and worth their weight in gold, but I digress.

With all of these admissions, beliefs, and information, I’m not led to go buy an AK-47, or dare someone to say the wrong thing to me and shoot them. I’m not inclined to by a flag with a swastika on it or create my own and a “cult of personality” to bring in followers to try and convince them to see my way or see things the way that I do.  I am not tempted to fill a water bottle with cement or urine and sling it into the face of someone I don’t even know because they have a different opinion than I do. I’m just not that way but yes, I do have feelings and yes, I do have an opinion.

With all of the events in Charlottesville from the past weekend and our world to this point, we have stirred a pot filled with mixed emotions about our history, our mixed heritage and we’re in a bad mood.

You can also say that some of us in Appalachia have been in a bad mood for a long, long time over many things.  Some things that are very similar to the national tone of the country and many of us Appalachians have remained silent and bit our tongue. We’ve remained so silent that we choose not to speak what is on our mind anymore, leaving some of us to type, write or blog.

History is full of innocent victims that have unfortunately paid the price in one fashion or another because some idiot or group of idiots got their panties in a wad in the first place without thinking what the outcome would be or the big picture.

Until all of these spewers of hate, rhetoric, and division on all sides, not just the select few decide to all agree and start a dialogue, we have nothing to talk about as long as we are shouting, hitting, killing and spewing hate at one another, whether in person, protest, press conference or on Twitter.

Problems can’t be solved over shouting and name calling. That’s usually when our feelings get hurt and someone on one side or the other starts the temper tantrum and the pouting starts once again. The pouting crap has to stop.

What happened in the past is already done and over. It can’t be changed and we can’t go around telling people we expect apologies from people for events they didn’t even participate in.

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