“Racism, it’s not a really big problem at my school, but I know it’s a problem at all the other schools. I’m biracial. My mom’s white and my dad’s black, so I don’t really worry about that stuff. The history just makes me feel how lucky I am to be both of them, and to have both experiences.”
Paige Phillips, age nine; Harlan, Kentucky:
“[I like to] hike and build stuff; tables, shelters. I have three older siblings. They’re mean. They mess up my room and stuff. I only have one brother and his name is Allen. He lives in Lexington and he’s 24. I have two sisters. Chastity is 20 and she has two kids. My brother also has one [kid]. My youngest but older sister is Casey Mills. She’s married and she has one kid and she is 19. I’m an aunt. I have four nieces.
My mom is Debra Phillips. She works up at Dr. Smith’s office. She is 34. She has blonde hair with bluish green eyes. I like to paint nails [with mom]. She’s good at painting nails. [She] will go outside and help with my flipping. My mom is a good cook. The thing I really like the most is her homemade hard candy. The last time we made it, it was about last week, she made blueberry cinnamon. One time she made raspberry and one time she just made pure blueberry. We made Oreo balls, bull’s eyes and also we make homemade peanut butter cookies. Bull’s eyes are peanut butter in the middle covered with white chocolate showing peanut butter at the top. It’s good.
My Dad works with the tree service. He cuts down trees that are old and about to fall. He also does landscaping. He is 46. I build things (with dad). I build shelters on my own with my cousins. He helps me on my projects. He helped me build a bow and arrow, and we kind of build my pool together. He’s silly and dances. I dance a lot. Hip Hop, that’s my favorite music.
My dad used to [be a coal miner]. He quit, I think because it was too dangerous and a lot of people were getting hurt. I know that it is hard work and it takes a lot of time. It takes up your hours, and it risks your life, too. I was happy when he quit coal mining because I got to see him more often. I saw him all dirty when I was about three. I remember he used to try to give me hugs, and I would run away because I knew he was dirty.
I’ve always lived in Harlan County [but I’ve visited other places]; South Carolina, Tennessee, and Lexington. I like those places better than Harlan because they have more places and more activities. [To make Harlan better they should] put in more stores that you will enjoy and make more money. Also put in more fun activities, like Chuck E Cheese’s, having a bowling alley and also do a jump gym or something like that.
My dad’s grandparents passed away. But my Papaw, my mom’s dad, he has a farm and I like to go feed all the animals with him. He has over 30 chickens, about five dogs, a hog, about five ducks, and he grows a garden, too. It can be a little hard work and it can be a little fun. It can be a little muddy sometimes, especially with chickens. A chicken threw up one time. It was like a big pile, and I stepped right in it and it got my shoe all muddy and stuff.
I have to [gather eggs] a lot. There’s one hen that just wants to sit there forever and my Papaw tries to get me to pick it up and throw it at the chickens. He has these little carts and he has this wall they get on and they sit in there and when they get finished you just go in there in the morning, afternoon and when it starts to get dark [to get the eggs]. That’s what he does. I also have to run the ducks out. They have this little chicken hole and I have to crawl through the chicken hole and then go get the ducks out in the field.
I’ve never tried to ride on the pig. It’s almost bigger than the [pen]. Papaw is going to eat it. He makes ham and stuff like that with it. He also makes bacon. It’s good. It tastes better because it’s natural and you know that it has been cleaned well. You don’t know the process [when you buy it] because because at the processing store they put all those oils and stuff in it.
(What do you want to be when you grow up?) It has to be between a WNBA player, a world champion gymnast like Gabby Douglas, and a professional dancer. It’s a little confusing. I’m going to go to HC [Harlan County High School] when I grow up, so it’s a little hard for me, and confusing because I love to dance and it’s an opportunity to be on the dance team. But I also love to play basketball. I play point guard and I play left wing. [My favorite basketball player] has to be between Jamal Murray and Ulis. Tyler Ulis is not very tall but he can still get down there and dunk and stuff. I’m a UK Wildcats fan. I don’t really get to watch any [women’s games] because if I’m looking through it I don’t really have a lot of opportunities to watch it.
No, [I’m not a hillbilly]. I do not believe in racism. Sometimes [I think being a hillbilly is racist], it depends how you are. [Hillbilly means] very country, just a southern style, can be a little mean sometimes, and yeah, that’s pretty much all I have to say.
Racism, it’s not a really big problem at my school but I know it’s a problem at all the other schools. Well, I’m biracial. My mom’s white and my dad’s black, so I don’t really worry about that stuff. The history just makes me feel how lucky I am to be both of them and to have both experiences.
[The saddest time in my life] has to be when some of my family members passed away. My Papaw Check. [I was] about four. I remember that he used to have horses. About every day when I came up he used to take me down there and let me ride the horses and feed them and stuff. He is my Papaw’s Dad, and I didn’t really get to see him that much.
[The happiest time in my life] is being with my family. We always stick together no matter what, and we can always forgive each other.
I can’t sing. I like to rap though. My friends say I’m [good], but it’s a little embarrassing. I have to have a purpose to rap about.”