Well, once again, Sagacious Hillbilly has got me thinking. After two thought-provoking articles on my last post, this post had to come out.
First, the second comment, because sometimes I'm just wild and break the rules like that.
He says (and please read the whole thing because I'm excerpting): "Stereotypes persist because of general impressions. That doesn't make them right, it just is....
When we begin giving the general impression that we are a suave, sophisticated, educated bastion of enlightenment, that's the stereotype that will emerge." Of course, he's exactly right on this one. However, there are some great things going on here: We have a surplus. how many other states can say that? We've got 2 small cities (Charleston and Morgantown) who were named on lists of Best Small Cities. Good things, all of them. And, as Buzzard Billy points out, the whole dental health thing has made a U-turn.
My frustration is that I see these changes, and still get questions on if I had to buy shoes to come to the conference. (Horrifyingly, it seems I get one dicky comment of just this sort every time I go to a conference.)
Which leads me to SH's first comment: "What are YOU doing to change WV?" Here's the answer: I'm being me. I talk like a newscaster (except when I've been drinking, but we won't go there) as I have been fortunate enough to have learned to lose my accent. Those who can't usually have a rougher time of it. I proudly say that I'm from West Virginia. I smile a lot, both to show that I do, indeed, have my teeth, and that I'm not likely to attack them when they're not looking. When I meet someone new,I try to judge them solely on their interaction with me, and not what notions I may have preconceived about their group. Hey, I'm not perfect. I have my stereotypes and prejudices, as we all do, but I try not to let them trump my logic and experiences. I attack stereotypes when I hear them, both to point out that
Professionally, I'm an educator. Specifically, I work with distance education, which means that I am helping folks from all over the state and world to increase their learning. SH said that folks' perceptions will change about us will change when we start to become more educated, less insular, and less ignorant. I think that his words are true not only of WV but of all of us as a whole. I cheered when President Obama called for every American to get more education and never stop learning, and it wasn't just because of the job security. Through my work, I'm trying to do help people to teach, learn, and reason. Maybe then we won't need to worry about stereotypes of any sort. None of us.