On Appalachia...from the other side of the state

Remember last week when I stuck up for my region of Kentucky? When I bemoaned the mistreatment of the western part of the state and sliced up my allegiance along geographical lines?

Well, I meant it...sort of. But I also want to say this.

We are all Kentuckians.

When some in our state succeed, we should all claim it proudly. The reverse is also true. When some in our state suffer, we should all claim and work to end that suffering.

I lived out of state for six years. I heard my fair share of hillbilly jokes and stereotypical judgments. Never once was I able to defend myself by explaining that I was from the OTHER side of the state.

No one cared.

As long as a a large segment of the state's population lives in abject poverty, we will all be judged by that standard. And to be honest, we deserve to be. We should ache for the suffering of our Appalachian brothers and sisters, not try desperately to disown them or distance ourselves.

Sixteen of the 100 poorest counties in the United States are in Kentucky. The only state with more is Texas.  And this is not new to any of us. It has been that way for decades. We blame it on culture. We blame it on industry. We blame it on the people themselves.

We should be ashamed all right. But not on the media's portrayal of our state.

We should be ashamed of ourselves.