Mara Casey Tieken, an Assistant Professor of Education at Bates College, writes:
“Last year’s earthshaking election brought new attention to rural America. This attention is overdue — rural America has long been largely ignored by reporters, researchers and policymakers — and much of it is useful, as this increasingly urban-centric country tries to understand and reconnect with those living far from cities.
But so far, the narrative emerging about rural America has been woefully incomplete, because so much of the media coverage has focused on only one slice of it: rural white America. Some stories are clear about their scope: Their authors have intentionally chosen a particular geographic and racial population to explore and explain. Others are less obvious in their focus, though details — region of the country or photographs — soon make explicit what is merely implied or assumed. Either way, though, a particular racial narrative is being told.
There’s another rural America that exists beyond this rural white America. Nearly 10.3 million people, about one-fifth of rural residents, are people of color. Of this population, about 40 percent are African American, 35 percent are nonwhite Hispanic, and the remaining 25 percent are Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander or multiracial. And this rural America is expected to grow in the coming decades, as rural areas see a rapid increase in Latino immigration.
This rural America, much like rural white America, can be found from coast to coast. But these rural Americans tend to live in different places from rural whites: across the Mississippi Delta and the Deep South; throughout the Rio Grande Valley; on reservations and native lands in the Southwest, Great Plains and Northwest.
This rural America has a different history from rural white America: a history of forced migration, enslavement and conquest. This rural America receives even lower pay and fewer protections for its labor than does rural white America. And, as my own research shows, this rural America attends very different schools than rural white America, schools that receive far less funding and other resources.
In fact, the relationship between rural white communities and rural communities of color is much like the relationship between urban white communities and urban communities of color: separate and unequal.”
Actually, seems like rural communities of all ethnicities share some strong common interests. They need jobs, education, roads, and services which are essential but not necessarily “cost-effective” and therefore have to be underwritten largely by those in “blue states” and urban areas.
Hard to seen how any part of rural America rationally aligns with Trump & the GOP, the party of handouts for the rich, destruction of public education, dirty air, polluted water, money wasted on xenophobic immigration enforcement, big weapons, lousy to non-existent health care, Wall Street, and no realistic plans for job creation.
But, for much of American post-Civil-War history, politicians of both parties have been amazingly successful at enticing white rural America to ignore it’s logical community of interest with African American, Native American, and Hispanic rural residents and to instead vote to prop up an establishment whose genuine interest in helping rural America is ephemeral at best.