Just last week, a chemical spill occurred in the southern part of West Virginia. The spill leaked into the Elk river, which in turn polluted the drinking water for 300,000 residents. This disaster has led to a great deal of media exposure for a state that usually flies under the radar. With that newfound media exposure came many jokes focused on West Virginia’s way of life.
Here’s an example:
This was a tweet from a journalist at the Detroit Free Press (she’s from Detroit, so she really doesn’t have any room to talk. Also, shout out to B Rabbit.) She received many hateful and degrading responses to her tweet by many, and eventually took it down, but the issue resounds- people from around the country think West Virginia is a place where the only things happening are cousins having sex and cashing their welfare checks. I’m here to tell you this is not true.
Before I begin, I’d like to present a disclaimer: I am not a fan of the individuals who constantly beat the drum of “Our state is the best state, you’re just jealous!” Being completely honest here, West Virginia isn’t exactly the most ideal place to live. You can’t walk more than ten feet without having to scale a hill. In the winter, the snow can be relentless. The only professional sports teams are those on TV’s. There’s no beach. If you want to go to a decent shopping mall, you’ve probably got an hour-plus drive ahead of you. There is, indeed, an abnormal amount of large people. But these aren’t deal-breakers. Every state has its problems. Last year, MTV began airing a show titled “Buckwild,” dubbed the “redneck version of the Jersey Shore,” and many people from around the country laughed at the state, believing this was an accurate depiction of what goes on. It was not. Many wrote in to MTV, the governor, and congress asking for the show to be discontinued because it seemed to shine a very poor light on our state. I personally have never witnessed anyone jump into a dump truck swimming pool. The show was a contributing factor to the many stereotypes of West Virginia.
West Virginia is a beautiful place. All four seasons make distinct appearances. The leaves in autumn are absolutely stunning, and the flowers in spring will make you do a double take. In the summer, the sun glimmers off of the lakes and rivers.
Many celebrities have come from West Virginia. If you’re a football fan, you surely know that Florida State just won the national championship. The coach, Jimbo Fisher? He’s from Clarksburg. Nick Saban, at Alabama, who has won four national championships in his time? He’s from Monongah. The “Logo,” Jerry West, comes straight out tha’ Holler’ too. Stonewall Jackson, the bad ass general from the Civil War. Author Pearl S. Buck. Nick Null- a member of Seal Team 6, the team the performed the raid of Osama Bin Laden’s home. Mary Lou Retton, the olympic gymnast who in 1984 became the first American to win the All-Around Gold? All from West Virginia.
West Virginia provides over 12% of all coal production in the United States. Without us, oil and gas prices would be driven higher due to the lack of resources and the need for more imports. If it wasn’t for the West Virginia men going underground, the country would certainly be strained.
My father and mother both have good jobs. My sister and I both attend college. I’ve never thought about fornicating with a family member. I’ve never chewed tobacco or made moonshine. I have all my teeth. I’m friends with a black kid. I’ve never seen Crystal Meth. Welfare checks don’t feed me. I wear the brands other states wear, listen to the Billboard Top 100, and I even have internet access. Take a step back and look at us, America- West Virginia isn’t just one big mud hole…it’s where I call home.