West Virginia, water shortage, and cultural capital

A recent ecological nightmare and media frenzy — the chemical spill  into the Elk River in West Virginia — is yet another heartbreaking example of the clash between the immense culture capital of some (Freedom Industries and other chemical/coal mass corporations in Appalachia) and the complete lack that others have (the people of West Virginia). In her article, Margaret Mead stated that most Americans have become so comfortable with the abundance of food that we cannot fathom the possibility that some to not have the same access to sufficient food (2012: 19). The same applies to water. We enjoy the luxury of complete and total access to water… until there’s a massive toxic chemical spill into our water source. In the case of West Virginia, this most recent tragedy is just another reminder of the troubled history of West Virginians and other peoples of Appalachia and their suffering at the hands of capitalist power and greed. This disadvantaged and disenfranchised population has no power to bring about any reform. In the upper echelons of governmental power, the EPA and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration leave “matters entirely to state officials” — officials that seem to overlook the necessary measures and procedures to keep their constituents safe (Huffington Post). The absence of clean water in West Virginia is a sad representation of the nexus of the power and cultural capital that the chemical/coal industries hold over the people that live in those areas.