Surviving a Small Town as a Progressive Teen

By Nevaeh Morgan

If you live in a small town and are just a little bit different than those around you, you stick out like a sore thumb.

I’m not sure if it’s the lack of diversity, living in the Bible Belt, listening to Satan’s rock music, or a mixture of all the above, but the result: I become a target for harassers (in HIGH SCHOOL I might add) because I have female reproductive organs and believe in progressive politics. There are multiple accounts I have experienced walking down the hallways and getting spit or coughed on while being called “snowflake.” Snowflake doesn’t offend me, or anyone else, but it’s hard to stay sane when there is blatant harassment and bullying. Plenty of schools, including the one I attend, claim to have a “no bully” tolerance, but when these disgusting, horrific encounters are reported, nothing happens. This happens all over the country. It’s old and boring. 

It’s obvious why teenagers should embrace feminism and a more progressive culture. Especially in small towns, every generation continues the cycle of toxicity. The Christian minister who’s BFFS with the principal is asked to teach sex ed. They teach students how terrible pre-marital sex is and the ungodly consequences that come along with it; when they should be teaching high schoolers with raging hormones how to have safe intercourse and how to plan for their future. Students who sprouted from the blood-line of those with strong ties to the community feel superior to others, and think they can judge and spread hate. They project that hatred and jealousy toward the other students. Students who are bullied for their gender, sexual orientation, race, intellect, and outspokenness. Students who, like me, are just trying to get an education. I, too, have experienced self-righteousness from several of my peers ever since the eighth grade. 

I moved from a town of 50,000 to a town of 2,000 people, but I luckily found a coping skill: music! I was mostly raised on R&B and hip-hop but was growing tired of it, so I started to expand my music selection. I started off with rock then allowed myself to adopt to grunge, psychedelic, and indie. I fell in love with the “live band” scene. Like most, I listened to a lot of big bands at first; Nirvana, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd. The music was impeccable and opened me up to a new world. I started to branch out toward listening to lesser known bands. And finally, I started listening to a lot of local bands and attending local events.

I love supporting the local artists and hearing their views through their art. Joplin has a really great scene of local musicians that can help small town teens, like me, branch out into a more progressive, community-driven world. There are a lot of cheap or free events that anyone can attend! Which is why I will be attending JulieFest on October 26. It’s a great way to support Joplin’s up and coming music scene and potentially help students who go through the same things I do. 

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