It was hard to ignore all the coverage of the Democratic primaries earlier this year that dismissed Appalachian voters as bigots and hillbillies.

This view of Appalachia is challenged by Ada Smith, an Appalachian Media Institute youth producer and former Highlander intern, in an audio essay that aired on NPR’s Morning Edition on May 21st.

Ada’s essay, entitled “Appalachia, the Scapegoat for America’s Racism,” challenges the analysis of pundits and calls for a real dialogue about race in Appalachia and America, one that isn’t based on prejudice or hillbilly stereotypes. As Ada puts it,

I think we may be scared to admit that more Americans than just Appalachians have a race problem. Instead of questioning how we’re going to deal with racism as a country, it’s easier to make Appalachia the scapegoat, carrying the load.

You can listen to Ada’s commentary here.