When I began blogging, I did it for my own enjoyment and to collect together information I was interested in, which I thought might be useful later. I have always been interested in the truth, something that is hard to find in adoption sometimes. That lack of honesty and truthfulness, the flirtation with lies, red herrings and falsified ‘facts’ is present right through adoption, often from a time sometime prior to our conception right through our lives in one form or another. We might have been a late discovery adoptee, a never told adoptee, an adoptee with falsified records, ‘burnt’ records, an adoptee who thinks their mother is their sister and so on and on. I doubt there is an adoptee alive who can’t find an example somewhere if they look carefully. I have had non-adoptees tell me it doesn’t matter, to forget it because they believe adoption wipes out…
So last night I was in such a crummy state, I flipped thru free movies and found THE WILD AND WONDERFUL WHITES of WEST VIRGINIA.
Then I couldn’t sleep thinking about it so hoped I could find someone who wrote something about this bizarre movie aka documentary:
Slant:I like that you delved a bit into the coal-mining culture the Whites are a product of. It brought to my mind the parallels between hillbillies and gangstas. There’s really very little difference between the mentality that births Appalachian artistry and that of ghetto rappers. Both demographics don’t expect to survive that long or to lead enriching lives so they’re steeped in a “live for today” kind of ethos. What’s your take on all this?
JN: When people are trapped in poverty and see no possibility of improving their situation, they too often react in the same way. These are people with no options at all but who have taken this lack of hope and stood up to it in the only way they saw as possible—creating a badass outlaw persona that thrives on romanticized self-destructive behavior. They want to have their lives noticed and acknowledged and getting into a lot of trouble is the only way to do that. They don’t see the world as fair in any way or buy into the American dream. They see coal companies like Massey Energy killing people in preventable mine disasters and never getting punished because Don Blankenship, the head of Massey, finances political campaigns in return for laws and court rulings that favor his company. This blatant corruption of the law fuels the outlaw culture in the region, justifying many others in the community to feel that they need to find ways to also exploit the system in their own small ways. The Whites, as masters of this, end up being celebrated in West Virginia by some like other outlaws before them (Jesse James, Bonnie and Clyde, etc.) who rebelled against corporate and state crimes by leading lives of crime themselves. Gangsta culture is just the urban version of outlaw culture.
There is this concept in America, that anyone can succeed if they wanted to—the whole “you can raise yourself by your bootstraps,” but I think the film is a refutation of that. The world is not fair to poor people. It fucks them over and there are cycles that almost never end once people are trapped in them. When you grow up a White and constantly hear romanticized stories of criminality, or how great it was when your mother stabbed Dennis, you are going to grow up excited to stab someone and get family cred by going to prison. Finding a new moral center is going to be hard, if not impossible. And even if you have a moral center, but a shitty education, the possibilities for improving your life in a region with only one major and very dangerous industry (coal) are still pretty dim. This is something we are scared to admit in America because it goes against the myths we tell ourselves daily in all our Oprah episodes and cheery, life-lesson TV shows.
Slate highlights this map: In recent decades, respect for European explorers, such as Christopher Columbus, has waned, likely because these once-romanticized swashbuckling adventurers killed people, eradicated cultures, and “discovered” places that people (for example, the natives) already knew about. They did make some discoveries, though—lands never inhabited or where the inhabitants were already dead before Europeans made landfall. The map above, from historian and cartographer Bill Rankin, shows those places and the country that discovered each.
Egyptians, you have an opportunity to create a new country and leadership. Don’t be fooled by America’s democracy. It’s not working here. We have two ruthless political parties who do not represent the people but rich people who select the politicians.
Call your scholars together and create a new way, a new system. Call it what you want. Create a model we can all emulate. We need you to succeed.
Seek peace. Serve all your people equally. Feed everyone and abolish poverty.
My prayers are for you now….Trace