BLACK APPALACHIANS FIND HOPE IN NATIONAL RECKONING ON RACE. Some Black Appalachians say their history and struggles are finally being recognized more widely in the wake of this year’s nationwide protests against institutional racism.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Dayjha Hogg has known racism her entire life, but until recently she thought she and her family had to face it on their own. Hogg, 19, lives in Whitesburg, Kentucky, a town of 2,000 people in the heart of Appalachia. She is biracial — born to a Black father and a white mother — and can recall times when she and her brothers were targets of racial slurs, suspicious glances and rude comments.
But in the wake of this year’s nationwide protests against institutional racism — sparked by George Floyd’s killing in Minnesota — Black Appalachians have found an opportunity for their history and struggles to be recognized more widely. Though the national reckoning on racism has raised awareness about the issue for many white Americans, that it is also echoing in the hills of Appalachia is particularly striking in a region that isn’t known for its diversity.
Hogg saw how the message of the protests — which were also fueled by the police killing of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky — was resonating when she organized a rally in her home county of Letcher, where 2% of the population of about 20,000 is Black. She thought only a few people would show up, but roughly 200 did, most of them white.