Last year’s presidential election opened my eyes to one thing: Many Americans have a largely inaccurate perception of rural America. More specifically, the racial makeup of rural America. Yes, much of Middle America and the Bible Belt is largely white and largely conservative. However, that is not the case everywhere.
When we see depictions of rural Americans in media, whether it be film, television or even news media, they are generally all white. They may be seen as uneducated, illogical or any of the other stereotypes we’ve created for rural Americans. Regardless of specifics, they are always all white. Only rarely, if ever, are the lives of people of color in rural communities depicted in mainstream media.
To many Americans, it’s as if people of color are only relegated to urban areas, or worse, found only in crime-ridden inner cities. This assumption was exacerbated during the presidential election of 2016, and continues to stated as fact throughout our communities. Yes, a great deal of Trump supporters are in rural America. That’s unequivocally true. However, people of color (who don’t support Trump) are also in these places.
Which brings me to another point — these people are constantly in spaces that not only do not welcome their presence, but where people are more than vocal about their displeasure. This may come in the form of your usual epithet-laced tirade about people of color taking over their country, or it may be slightly more subtle and implied. It could come in the form of vocal Trump support.
During Thanksgiving Break, my mom and I went to the nearest Lowes, in Franklin, Va. It's a small town of about 8,500 in southeastern Virginia. It is majority Black but still has a high concentration of white people.