Us & Them Us & Them explores all sides of the cultural issues that too often divide us. Peabody Award-winner Trey Kay brings us stories that may make you rethink your opinions on religion, sexuality, and other important issues
Us & Them

Us & Them

From West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Us & Them explores all sides of the cultural issues that too often divide us. Peabody Award-winner Trey Kay brings us stories that may make you rethink your opinions on religion, sexuality, and other important issues

Most Recent Episodes

The Dental Gap

Many West Virginians have trouble with their teeth. In fact, there's a big gap between folks who can reliably access an affordable dentist and those who can't. That's no surprise when half the state's counties have fewer than six dentists. A recent national ranking shows West Virginia is second to last in overall oral health care. A state report shows that by third grade, 56 percent of children show signs of tooth decay, and 12 percent of adults have had all their teeth extracted. People who don't have good oral health habits and access to regular and quality dental care elevate their risk of other critical health care issues such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. About more than aesthetics or any toothless hillbilly stereotype, access to dental care is a dangerous culture divide that might look like a class gap but is deeper and far more serious.

Disconnected Youth: No Job, No School, No Plan

There are so many young people in the U.S. who are not in school, or working, or training for work, that there's a name for it. They are 'disconnected youth' and West Virginia has one of the highest rates in the nation - 17 percent. It's a tough group to track down because there's a stigma attached to this status. However, a few programs are trying to bridge this gap - to connect with young people and give them a pathway and support to train for a job and a career. On this episode of Us & Them, host Trey Kay explores why some young West Virginians struggle so much to move forward, and we'll hear from a few Mountain State leaders who talk about how we might help them.

Stay or Go?

West Virginia has trouble keeping people. In the past decade the state has lost more than 3 percent of its population. There were more deaths in the state than births, and more people left the state than moved in. It leaves a lot of people wondering what the future of the Mountain State will be. Demographic changes from one census to the next shows some of the costs. West Virginia will soon lose a congressional district as a result, but there are other consequences. West Virginia is older than most states and its young people are leaving. However there are efforts to stem the tide. One goal is to remake the Mountain State into the Start Up State and to attract and keep a new generation of remote workers to call West Virginia home.

When Will We Trust Again?

Our country is seeing a new flavor of partisanship. We practice a tribalism that's so intense and personal, it defines much of our life. Who we call friends. Which family members we relate to. Even, how we cast our vote. What drives the divisions between us? On this episode of Us & Them, we ask how central a lack of trust is to this polarization. After a year of extraordinary social, racial, political and economic upheaval, some people say they've lost trust in one another, our institutions and our government. Polls show distrust is as high as it's been in six decades. What do we risk if we're unwilling to trust in our fellow Americans?

Pocahontas County Contradiction — Sure, They Can Hear Mars, But Dependable Broadband Seems...

The pandemic has taught us the value of the internet; for work, school, even to order the essentials of life. The past year has also exposed the brutal realities of the digital divide. Access to reliable, fast internet is essential for city and country dwellers. In this episode of Us & Them, we'll hear about the internet challenges from residents of rural Pocahontas County, West Virginia. Its stunning rolling farmland is home to the Green Bank Observatory, a high tech facility that can communicate with distant planets. Despite more than a decade of federal initiatives across the country, internet service in this isolated area cannot match speed with grazing cows or is nonexistent. One customer there calls it "dependably unreliable." After more than 10 years of federal money and a lot of inaction, we look at why high-speed internet service hasn't found its way into more rural West Virginia homes.

Pocahontas County Contradiction — Sure, They Can Hear Mars, But Dependable Broadband Seems...

We've Lost & We've Learned In The Year of COVID-19

It's been a year since the coronavirus started a global pandemic. A third of Americans now know someone who has died from COVID-19. The virus has forced daily decisions to stay healthy and safe. We've accepted a level of isolation into our lives - distancing from people and staying at home as we can. And we've seen medical researchers develop treatment measures and new vaccines. In this episode of Us & Them, we revisit some of the people Trey Kay met over the past year. Teacher Tega Toney explains what she's learned along with her students and colleagues. Trey checks back with the family of Eli and Amy Snell to see how their five kids are doing with remote classes. And we'll catch up again with traveling ICU nurse Eva Crockett who's spent the year moving from one hospital to another to treat COVID patients.

Fatal Overdoses: Pandemic is Especially Deadly for West Virginians Battling Addictions

The COVID-19 vaccine continues to roll out but there's no obvious fix for other long term medical consequences of the pandemic. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the deadliest year ever for overdose deaths in the twelve months between June 2019 and June 2020. Lethal overdoses were up by 20%. Isolation, anxiety and boredom, three triggers for drug abuse, have created the so-called mental health 'shadow pandemic.' And for West Virginia, an existing shortage of healthcare professionals means there are not enough workers for hospitals, clinics and treatment centers that are seeing more patients in distress.

Fatal Overdoses: Pandemic is Especially Deadly for West Virginians Battling Addictions

COVID-19 Exposes Racial Inequities

COVID-19 numbers show the pandemic has hit Black and Brown people hard. The coronavirus is about three times more likely to put African-American and Latino people in the hospital and they are twice as likely than whites to die from COVID. The reasons for this disparity are as old as they are complex. Inequities in health care are rooted in the historical racism of our institutions. They are part of the reason some people of color don't trust public health efforts or the healthcare industry in general.

Grandfamilies and the Pandemic

Older people are the most vulnerable to COVID-19. That's a challenge when people in their 60s, 70s and 80s are full time caretakers for grandkids. The opioid epidemic has made more than 2.5 million children nationally part of a 'Grandfamiliy,' a household headed by someone over 60. Social distancing isn't an option when grandparents are tending to diapers, making meals and overseeing homework full time. Some are even essential workers. And COVID has only exacerbated opioid addictions and deaths. Through it all, families are still coming together to give their kids a home.

Clarity on COVID-19

It's been nearly a year since COVID-19 came into our lives. It's changed everything and forced all of us to stop and reconsider how we live day to day. These considerations and adaptations are something the Us & Them team has carefully explored over the past year. The Story Collider podcast — a show that features people telling true personal stories about their relationship with science — has been listening to Us & Them's pandemic reports and invited host Trey Kay to share a story about how he's lived and worked through the pandemic. They wanted to know what's helped him make sense and get clarity on this whole COVID -19 experience.

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