In April, West Virginia went viral for the wrong reasons when MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle actually checked Justice on a bill he signed to ban transgender students from playing on sports teams that match their identities.
“Why are you taking the time to do this? Let’s talk about other things that I can give you examples of in your state. According to US news and world report“West Virginia ranks 45th in education, 47th in health care, 48th in economics and 50th in infrastructure,” she said.
The pressure to give a single example of a transgender child trying to play the West Virginia school sports system to have an athletic advantage that Justice said he was concerned about, the governor could not name one.
“I can tell you we all know what an absolute advantage boys would have playing against girls,”
Brad Smith acknowledges that the image of the state since the Trump presidency has been frustrating for someone trying to rework it.
“Even though our policy may have painted us in a certain way, I would still say that if my car broke down anywhere, I would like it to be in West Virginia,” he said. “This is the version of West Virginia that I want the rest of the world to understand. We try to shine a light on the parts that do not get much broadcast. ”
He denies that Ascend is trying to rebrand West Virginia into a sort of Blue-state replica. But it’s hard to avoid this conclusion when the first three hand-picked cities eligible for the program are certainly not the stereotypical Trump country.
Morgantown – a university town closer to Pittsburgh than the West Virginia town I grew up in – is located in Monongalia County, which had the smallest percentage of Trump voters in the 2020 election. by 49 percent. Shepherdstown is also a university town located in the richest county in the state, and Lewisburg is home to The Greenbrier, Justice’s resort, where rooms can run up to $ 600 per person. Night. While a majority of West Virginia voters voted for Trump last year, both Shepherdstown and Lewisburg are in counties with his lowest support.
During my visit, I tried to see my home state, as the Ascend program wants its soon-to-be-arrived transplants to see it. I went rafting in the New River; I saw the country’s newest national park at New River Gorge. I camped at Ace Adventure Resort and hiked in Kanawha State Forest. Even driving along the highway, I was amazed that I ever took the landscape, and the feeling of being persistently hidden inside a large valley, for granted.
But it seemed impossible to see my condition in only The path. For now, it’s inevitable to talk to Trump about talking about West Virginia to outsiders. During my visit, Trump was everywhere and nowhere. His name was still on red hats and flew along with Confederate flags and “F — Biden” signs on porches, but he left West Virginia largely unchanged.
In the book of the historian and author Elizabeth Catte What you’re going wrong about Appalachia, she writes, places like West Virginia have long been used by the rest of the country as a scapegoat. After all, West Virginia alone did not choose Trump. Not only employees did either. Catte’s book came out before Ascend was an idea, but she speaks to the heart of West Virginia’s concerns about it.
“Defining Appalachian culture is often a top-down process in which individuals with power or capital tell us who or what we are,” she writes.
Catte writes that Appalachia’s struggle with the “otherness” mark from the rest of America began with the war on poverty and the creation of the well-meaning Appalachian Regional Commission.