Meet the Folks From Omar
According to US Census statistics, West Virginia is the least diverse of all the states in the union, at least as far as racial percentages are concerned. Unless they are obviously of African or Asian descent, West Virginians who have been here for a long time tend to forget that the parents and grandparents of their neighbors, the Harsanis, the Hidalgos, the Rahalls, Haddads, and Rashids, the Kaminskis and Kaufmans, the Spadafores, Biaforas, and the Manchins–who once were Mancinis–arrived to take advantage of opportunities in the industrial boom that was happening in West Virginia between 1880 and 1920.
One might wonder how a place in southern West Virginia wound up with the name of Omar?
But diversity is not all about race and ethnicity. It’s about thought and opinion, gender and sexual orientation. It’s about cultural leanings, toward the North or the South. The “official” stance of West Virginia, surmised from its laws, is sometimes different from the informal West Virginia that is neighbor to neighbor. But there’s no doubt that West Virginians of every stripe are fiercely loyal, tribal, and not easily excited about the latest trend, whatever it may be. We love our traditions, and wrap ourselves in them.
The founders of the Create West Virginia initiative all have strong ties to the state. We hope to preserve what is best here.