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Thoughts of a Coal Miner is the embodiment of coal miners throughout the world, men and women who understand the true nature of  the coal industry and who resist their profit driven motives. They are coal miners who seek a better future for their children and grandchildren as our parents did for us.

The summer of 2010 was a turbulent time for my family. We had suffered the loss of our home and all that we owned to a fire in the middle of the night and in the month that followed, all doubts about how much the company cared for us and our families was removed.

For many years I had based our happiness upon a good wage and the ability to accrue material things. Losing everything ended that short-sightedness and helped me to think more about life and the future of my children. After coming to blows with management, I quit my job in the mines and two months later began blogging as “The Thoughtful Coal Miner.”

At first, I remained fearful of retribution from the industry, especially being blacklisted by local employers for my pro-union, anti-industry sentiments. I wrote anonymously and used pseudonyms to make sure I could still find a job in the mountains my family called home for 10 generations. As time wore on, my new found friends in the fight against mountain top removal coal mining helped me to better understand the health impacts that could affect my children, as well as the power structures of the industry that would deny them the chance at a better life.  In the summer of 2011, after living with my parents for nearly a year, we moved to Central Kentucky on our path towards gaining justice for Appalachia.

Only then did I begin using my real name on this blog and in other writings.

Writing this blog became my way of coping with my experiences, finding solace between the pride and heritage of my former occupation, and the truth of coal’s presence in the world. I quickly found myself defending our communities against ridicule and extraction as I worked to untangle the messes created between environmental activists and profiteering coal companies.

I’ve caught plenty of hell from both sides. I became a “traitor” in the eyes of some miners, and I have become a “traitor” to the environmental activists who I’ve accused of being indifferent to the needs of Appalachia’s coal miners. It’s not been an easy road, but still to this day, I believe it’s been the right one.

And so I continue this path, trying to help people understand the complexities that exist within Appalachia, trying to contextualize the sources of our suffering and the reasons for our choices. I continue to extend ideas, levy brazen critiques, and search for justice beneath the crushing weight of reality facing our Appalachian home.

-Nick Mullins

 

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