The courtroom was silent as 19-year-old Dayjha Hogg approached the lectern at a Letcher County fiscal court meeting, stared down a panel of county magistrates, and spoke.
“I know COVID’s going around right now, so just imagine, there’s no COVID, normal society, and imagine you walk around and it’s like you have the plague.”
Hogg is biracial, and her entire county leadership is White. The Berea College student gripped the lectern to steady herself, and continued.
“People look at you and it’s almost as if, if they stare too long, if they breathe the same air, they’re scared that they’re going to catch the plague. That is just a small, small glimpse of what it was like growing up here in eastern Kentucky as a minority.”
Conversations about police brutality and racial equity are happening across the nation, and rural communities are no exception.
In Letcher County and Whitesburg, its county seat, a racial reckoning is unfolding that is at once peculiar to this rural Appalachian community and inextricably tied to the one unfolding across the nation.
This reckoning came after a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Whitesburg.
Hogg helped organize the protest, and she had been a little …