Dear Rural, White Americans:
I’ve been reading a lot about your struggle – and boy does it sound terrible. The good news is, there’s plenty of advice available if you just take the time to listen.
It’s pretty simple: America is a land of opportunity. There is free education for anyone who is willing to take advantage of it. There’s plenty of financial aid for a college degree if you’re motivated enough. There’s no such thing as systemic inequity and it’s not the government’s responsibility to fix your problems. Stop doing drugs. Get a job. Take responsibility for your life and stop blaming other people for your drug use and poverty. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Stop whining and start working.
Every other demographic who is given this advice when concern for their community is raised
Sarcasm aside, I have read and listened to a lot of smart, insightful coverage on the issues rural America is facing today. I do care. I am glad that many journalists have sought to understand what led to the election and haven’t just written rural voters off.
What I don’t understand is why it is different when the discussion is about issues in inner cities. The issues are the same: both groups lack access to quality healthcare and education. Both groups suffer from poverty. Both groups have experience with a drug addiction epidemic. Both groups lack available jobs that can support a family. But while one group is given empathy, the other is called lazy.
In fact, in the 2012 election, those who believe the government has a role in improving their quality of life were called entitled and dependent on government because they allegedly believed they were victims. But a majority of rural citizens voted for Trump because of issues that directly affect their own quality of life, implying they want the government to lend a hand in solving their issues. However, I haven’t heard this group called entitled victimizers who are dependent on the government.
It’s past time to ask ourselves why the difference in narrative exists: Why do we point to economic and social factors to explain poverty and drug abuse in rural cities, but point to lack of character and morals to explain the same issues in inner cities?