The Different Ozark Faces


Sexism and Racism

Ozarks Hillbilly

This past week I had the privilege of taking with some women who had similar views concerning social justice issues that I have. We talked about racial issues, gender issues, poverty and history. The American Civil War was the major catalyst of the conversation. We talked about racism and sexism and how unfortunately both are alive and well in this country. we talked about how much of the culture here still hold to the idea that somehow white Anglo Saxon males were still the Lord and master.

The Ozarks Stereotype

Part of what we talked about was how people from other parts of the country view people from the Ozarks. What comes to your mind when you think of the Ozarks? My guess is that when you think of the Ozarks, you might think about the characters from the television show the Beverly Hill Billies, or the characters in the movie Winter’s Bones (Won an Academy Award), or possibly the characters in the book Weight of Blood. Individuals of the Ozarks are often portrayed as poorly educated, clannish, and often bigoted red-necked, white trash who drink home- brewed moonshine, take meth and sit on the rocker on the front porch waiting for their government checks to arrive.

Ozarks Quilt

Homemade Crafts and Grandma’s Home Cooking And Good Music

Another face of the Ozarks are homemade crafts. Crafts around here include homemade quilts, hand knitted and crocheted items, hand spun and woven materials, artisan woodwork. Blacksmithing and farriering are both still practiced in the area.

The food around here is stick-to-your-ribs good. Breakfast wouldn’t be breakfast without homemade pork sausage and biscuits and gravy. Lunches and dinners might involve barbecued beef, chicken or pork or even fried chicken served with mashed potatoes and country gravy with a vegetable for a side. This time of year, dessert is likely to include fresh picked blackberries in a cobbler with homemade ice cream.

elevenpoint

Recreational activities usually revolve around hunting, fishing, or canoeing. After a good day at the river or hiking in the woods, you would understand why the sidewalks roll up after five pm in the small Ozarks communities. You are too tired to think about going out.

The face of the Ozarks would not be complete without a word or two about the music. the instruments played in Ozarks music has included drums, guitars, fiddles, and at times a ceramic jug. Just south of where I am sitting and writing this blog, is the town of Mammoth Springs Arkansas, the inspiration for the Grand Ole Opery. One of the biggest towns in this area, West Plains has a street named after Porter Waggoner a pioneer in country music.

Porter_wagoner

Porter Wagoner in 1999

The Future Face of The Ozarks

Recently,  I witnesses a new face in the Ozarks. I had the privilege of sitting in on The Oregon County Youth Council meeting (Oregon county, by the way is currently the poorest county in Missouri) where a group of enterprising high school students are looking to make the county a better place to live. Last night’s discussion was about starting a weekly county newspaper. Although six other papers (5 weeklies, 1 daily) service the county, they do not adequately serve the county. Because of the cost of the project, the group determined that it would be better to begin by creating an online paper and forgo the cost of printing on paper for the time being.

Already this summer, the youth council has sponsored two movie events in a local park where they paid a band to come in before the movie and play for the participants. In addition, there were games for the kids and most everything was pay as you are able for any who attended. They have another movie event planned for this weekend.

Finally, the County Youth Council plans to help needy students in one under-served school in the county by helping children get school supplies and backpacks. And they are planning to fund and build a self-sustaining tiny house complete with solar power as the first of what they hope will be a community of tiny homes that not only offer housing, but healthy organically grown food as well. The hope of the Ozarks appears to be in good hands.

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2 comments
  1. Interesting read and points. I’ve never been to the Ozarks but there is no doubt the stereotype exists. If I even mention Ozarks to people around here, I’m sure the first response will be Hee Haw. 🙂

  2. Surprisingly, a lot of the kids around here do not even like any type of country music.

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