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Rural People of Color


If you only read the New York Times and listen to NPR, you would be sure that the only rural people in America are white. After all, hasn’t every rural white in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin been interviewed since November 8 about why they voted for Trump, why they would still vote for Trump, and why they will vote for Trump again even though they rely on Medicaid to stay alive. But–gasp!–it seems there are actually people of color in rural America. Who knew! And even more shocking, they are even more marginalized than rural whites!

The day after the November presidential election, Turner went with her mother to the store, and they both kept their heads down. “We just feel like we don’t belong here anymore,” she says.

Turner’s mom, who cleans houses in town for a living, went to work a couple of days after that, and her employer, an older white woman, brought up the results of the recent election. The two had talked politics before—Turner’s mom is a Democrat, and her employer is a Republican. “Well, you might as well come and live with me now,” the employer said. “You gonna be mine eventually.”

She called her daughter in tears. Turner immediately got in her car and picked her mother up to bring her home.

Last year before the election, a young woman Turner described as one of her best friends casually mentioned she hoped for a Trump victory so that he might “do away with some of these African American people.” She quickly clarified that she wasn’t referring to Turner’s “type,” but when Turner sharply asked her what she meant, she couldn’t answer. Another friend assured her that it would be okay if Trump won the election because she would convince her parents to purchase Turner’s family as their new slaves. In a place where a few large plantation-style houses remain scattered through the county, the “joke” feels a lot like a threat.

“I saw a lot of true colors from a lot of people since the election—down with African Americans, down with Hispanics, build the wall, even for the legal ones,” she says. “It really hurts.”

She works as a dispatcher for Kirkland’s, a home goods store, where she handles shipping coordination, but she’s hoping to move into a role that is more IT-focused. Even one of her coworkers—a manager—insisted on seeing a copy of her business degree for days, to the point that Turner finally gave in and brought it to her to examine. It’s hard to not hear echoes of birtherism claims that plagued Barack Obama throughout his presidency in actions like those.

“It gets me emotional sometimes,” she tells me. “I wake up, and I never know, am I gonna get called the ‘n word’ today? Am I gonna have to defend my education?”

The only solution here is for the Times to run another 12 stories on rural whites and their undying support for Trump.

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  • Zagarna_84

    Oddly, the best human-interest piece I’ve seen on this topic came out of NBC’s Olympics coverage last year– at some point they cottoned to the fact that Tori Bowie, now the winner of the 100-meter dash at the track-and-field World Championships and last year’s silver medalist, is from the absolute back of beyond in Mississippi.

    Like many of their featurettes, it was rather out of context in a sporting event, but it did humanize the struggles of that area to some degree.

    • Zagarna_84

      [Genuine no-pun-intended on “cottoned,” which I just noticed.]

  • Warren Terra

    “Well, you might as well come and live with me now,” the employer said. “You gonna be mine eventually.”

    It’s 2017. Supposedly.

    • NonyNony

      These people are fucking sick. I know that, but somehow their sickness surprises me still.

      • Origami Isopod

        They’re not sick. They’re evil.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      When a white person says, “I can’t be racist, I have black friends!” I think that often indicates that they’re the type of person who would say something like that to their black “friend.”

    • MikeG

      A true WTF moment.
      You can thank Tox News and rabies radio for stirring up racism for fun and profit.

      • drspittle

        And the Mainstream Media for enabling it by not naming it for what it is. They’re just as culpable.

    • wjts

      It’s 2017. Supposedly.

      Somebody should make a TV show about how awful it would be if the South had won the Civil War and it was still OK to say shit like that.

  • Anna in PDX

    Example three million and one of why I don’t feel like there’s any reason to try “reaching” rural white people (I grew up in rural Oregon).

    • i live in a town of 5000, in a county of 20,000.

      am i rural?

      fuck yes.

      want me to keep voting D?

      don’t shit on me.

      Trump is from the biggest fucking city in the US. cant get any more non-rural that that.

      • rhino

        Unless you can convince 50% plus one of your neighbours to vote alongside you, nobody cares.

        • nobody cares.

          take a look at the 2016 map. maybe you’ll rethink that.

      • Anna in PDX

        Yes sure but you are a famous liberal who invented an internet law. You are not a rural winger. They are really just not reachable.

  • Warren Terra
  • themann1086

    Christ. I actually gagged a bit at the “you gonna be mine eventually” bit.

    • Erik Loomis

      Rural Tennessee is a very special place.

      • David

        I grew up in Nashville. It was like a tiny little moat separating us from everyone else in a sea of red. Even now having moved to the West Coast I have family members resent my attitude, that I somehow have lost my way as a city slicker on the decadent and morally corrupt West Coast.

      • (((realinterrobang)))


        I actually gasped, no word of a lie.

    • Hogan

      Yeah. My opposition to the death penalty is really being tested to failure these days.

      • (((realinterrobang)))

        Me too. And someone murdered one of my relatives.

    • Unree

      Hair on my neck stood up. I almost feel I know what it means to have one’s flesh crawl. Villains don’t get more blatant.

      I also agree with the person quoted as saying he’s not sure he wants the world to go on (in its current state, with the likely future in mind).

      • Drew

        I think I finally understand why Old Testament God/Yahweh/etc brought that flood.

    • Chet Murthy

      You are not alone.

  • Bri2k

    Just when I think people can’t get any more horrible…

    • so-in-so

      They can pretty much ALWAYS get more horrible.

  • eclare

    I honestly thought I was past shock, but I literally gasped out loud reading the employer’s and “friend’s” comments. Why would anyone think that kind of “joke” is ok? What the fuck is wrong without people?

    • Origami Isopod

      I literally said, “Oh, my fucking god” out loud at what Mrs. Turner’s employer said to her … but I have read other accounts from black people reporting similar comments from their so-called “friends.” I don’t see any need to repeat them here.

    • Drew

      Let me tell you something, a “joke” like that is…not a joke. That is a sick fuck.

  • David

    I am sitting at a restaurant and reading the, “You gonna be mine eventually” I literally dropped food out of my mouth when my jaw dropped. I’m just glad I didn’t choke on it.

    Jesus of the Christ. I kinda wish I’d choked instead.

  • nick056

    The local milk people are spilling out, and we’re all crying.

  • Lot_49

    NPR and NYT are going to keep running stories about non-rich white Trump voters until non-rich white Trump voters apologize.

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