The Hidden America: Social Problems in Rural America for the Twenty-First Century

The Hidden America: Social Problems in Rural America for the Twenty-First Century

The Hidden America: Social Problems in Rural America for the Twenty-First Century

The Hidden America: Social Problems in Rural America for the Twenty-First Century

Synopsis

This book seeks to raise our awareness of the many social problems faced by rural Americans--women as well as men, whose problems traditionally have received more coverage. Compared to urban America, very little has been written on social problems in rural America. Each chapter examines a particular social problem, such as homelessness. The problems of other minorities, such as Native Americans, Hispanics, and African Americas, are also discussed.

Excerpt

Having spent most of my adult life living and working in suburban or urban places, it took a couple years for me to feel comfortable in rural America. Initially I was perplexed when merchants seemed to smile too long while looking me straight in the eye for what seemed an eternity after giving me my change. I thought for sure I had done something wrong, or maybe they knew something about me I didn't. People seemed closer even in casual everyday social interaction.

Although people can be friendlier in rural America, there is often respect for privacy. Perhaps because of the cohesiveness of many communities, a sharp line is often drawn between one's public and private life. Some topics, such as money, sex, or religion, are frequently approached with caution. Being considered an insider is often impossible if you were not born in the community.

Six years ago, I was hired as a sociology professor at Susquehanna University, located in Selinsgrove, central Pennsylvania. My wife and I rented a house close to the center of town, a short walk from the university. From my office I saw outlines of hills in the distance, where once coal miners had labored beneath the earth's surface concealed from the sunlight. When the wind blew in the wrong direction, the smell of manure freshly spread on the fields seeped through our screen windows.

Local trucks laden with grain or animals regularly passed our house, and our windows rattled. Hand-sewn quilts on porches flapped in the gusts created by passing vehicles. Sometimes Confederate flags were on windshields or bumpers, more often decals of stock car racers. People drove fast in Snyder County. The distance from point to point is often great. Perhaps they thought they were in a race—tucked against the back bumper ready for the right moment to pass.

White crosses were located at different points beside the highway, usually near an intersection, indicating who had been unlucky— killed as a result of an accident. A truck might not have been able to stop at a light in time, or tried to run it, or the driver perhaps suffered from sleep deprivation. New crosses seemed to pop up each week.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.