Originally Posted by midwinter
Having just left the southern end of appalachia, I'm a little confused about this notion of an "appalachia problem." Could someone explain to me what this phrase means and how it differs from a bigot problem?
Isn't the hypothesis just that there are a lot of bigots in appalachia?
I think there are scads of white folks in appalachia who like to think that they're not racist, but who are, for want of a better term, soft racists. They won't don a white sheet or burn a cross, but they have grown up with almost no contact with middle-class black folks; they've never had a black person in their home; they tend to think most black people are poor, ignorant, classless, and potentially dangerous. Those who aren't are "good cooks" or "good people" with whom they would never, ever dream of having any social interaction.
You know, one of the interesting things that's come out during this primary is that the more contact whites have with blacks, the more racist they seem to be, rather than the reverse. In the south, where there's more contact between whites and blacks than in any other region of the US, a higher percentage of white Democrats vote for Clinton (and a much larger percentage of whites are Republicans) than in places like Iowa and Oregon, where there aren't any blacks. You can almost perfectly predict the likelihood of a white person voting for Clinton based on how many blacks are in their state: The more blacks, the more likely they are to vote for Clinton.
On the other hand, my sense is that Appalachia has relatively fewer blacks than places in the south like Mississippi, and yet Appalachia displays a pattern like Mississippi. I suppose that's what makes it stand out.