Regional Prejudice

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I remember when I told people I was headed down South for some higher education.  (Is anyone hearing that Trace Adkins song in your head right now? ;))  There was a great deal of envy from my New England peeps regarding the weather I’d be getting down there.  There were also questions like this:

–Don’t they all talk so SLOWLY down there?

–Are you gonna start drawling and saying “y’all” all the time?  (Or spraying your hair big like you did back in ’89?)

–Ick, you know you’re gonna have to eat grits and gravy ALL.THE.TIME, right?

and on and on.

 

While I was down there (with my smooth hair, fast speech, and ketchup-on-my-eggs, thankyouverymuch), I met my now-husband.  We met down South, but I was from New England and he hailed from the Midwest.  That didn’t matter too much, really, until the school year ended and we parted ways.  Happily, I was able to plan a trip out to see him at the beginning of July, and it was with great excitement that I told people I was headed out to Indiana.  They all said the same thing…

“Why???”

 

But it’s not that they asked me “why”– it was the way they said it.  With such disdain and disbelief, their voices dripping with the insinuation that there was no possible good reason to go there.  They’d certainly never want to go there.  I mean, what the heck’s in Indiana, anyway?  Corn?  (snicker snicker)

 

I was disgusted with it.  I was mortified that “my people” were so judgmental.  Despite their catty remarks, I was delighted to fly out to Indiana to see my boyfriend and meet his friends and more of his family.  I was kind of happy to be getting away from the stuck-up attitudes I had encountered in Connecticut, truthfully.

 

So imagine my dismay when the people I’d been so eager to meet all approached me warily.  Remarks were made, some veiled and some not, about my being a “hoity-toity, snotty city girl from out East.”  City girl?  They obviously had no clue I’d spent my childhood combing the hilly woods behind my best friend’s house…

 

If I’ve learned one thing in my journey of living all over this great country of ours, it is this:

 

People have a remarkable amount of regional prejudice.

 

Most of it is born of sheer ignorance and that is just so sad, in my opinion.  I think it’s wonderful to have pride in where you’re from.  I also think it’s fine to visit other places and form legitimate opinions.  But I’ve come to really, really dislike the way people make blanket judgments based solely on here-say or assumptions…

 

I’m here to share just a bit of what I’ve learned from living in eight different states scattered throughout the Midwest, New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and down South.

 

  • All Midwesterners aren’t farmers.
  • All New Englanders aren’t city-dwellers.
  • All Southerners aren’t rednecks.
  • Northerners do tend to talk faster than Southerners, but I don’t notice that I get any more done up here as a result.
  • Southerners do eat more gravy and drink more sweet tea than Northerners, but no one down there ever seemed particularly offended when I said, “No, thank you” to either.
  • Rhode Islanders are their own breed. ;)  (And there’s something kind of cool about meeting someone else from your state and knowing, before you even compare towns, that you can’t possibly live more than 45 minutes apart from one another.)
  • There’s great debate over whether Virginia is a Northern or a Southern state.
  • New York is not in New England.  And New Englanders and New Yorkers tend to be very different animals.
  • There are Democrats and Republicans all over the place.
  • There are also smart people all over the place.
  • Ditto for not-so-smart people.

 

At the end of the day, I’ve dearly loved the people in every place I’ve lived.  Are there some regional differences and quirks?  Absolutely.  But, truly, there is far more that unites us than divides us.

 

And I, for one, am happy to embrace that fact.

 

What preconception is there about where you’re from?  Is it true?

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31 comments to Regional Prejudice

  • I agree with you. I can’t stand that people thing that all Alabamians are rednecks and hicks. With thriving industries, NASA, rocket scientists and engineers, we live in one of the most technologically advanced areas of our country. One of the best engineering universities is local to us. There are some smart cookies around here. :)

  • Kansas & no the yellow brick road does not go through my backyard, I’ve never met Dorthy, my dog’s name isn’t Toto, and I’ve never lived on a farm!!

  • Shirnell

    Im from Texas. Obviously we all ride horses and wear cowboy hats. *eye roll* I actually get excited when we go to my husband’s family’s house and I see horses walking down the street.

    My mom doesn’t consider Texas to be in the south though. We aren’t from the south, we are from Texas. That’s what she always says when asked where she is from.

  • Amanda

    I’m from North Carolina, was born here and have lived in the state my entire life, and I am constantly asked where my accent is. People always assume I’m from somewhere else since we live near an army and air force base. Not all southerners have long drawn out accents and not all of us talk slow. :0). Also, I do not particularly like country music and do not wear camo or drive a truck. I think I hit the main misconceptions. Oh and across our state accents vary quite a bit. I went to college in the mountains and upon moving there it took me a while to get their accents because they were so much thicker than what I was used to.

  • mlearley

    My husband and I are both from the north east (he’s from upstate NY and I’m from central PA). The first few times I met his family they made comments about my Pennsylvania accent…seriously?!? We live like 4 hours apart. Now we live in PA and my husband is afraid our girls will grow up speaking funny. Sure we pronouce words a little differently…I’ve been told we’re “lazy speakers” but I don’t think I’m not different from them.

  • Marci

    Both my husband and I were born in Iowa, but he grew up in Maine (we’re opposites! :-D ). We also met down south and still live here, much to his dismay (and while I share some of his dislikes, I love the weather here). EVERY time I tell someone I’m from Iowa they either say, “Ah, the state with all the potatoes!” To which I reply, “Actually, that’s Idaho. Iowa has a lot of corn and soybean fields.” Or I get, “So you live in a corn field, right?” Fun stuff. ;-)

    • There’s great debate over whether Indiana or Iowa has the best corn. ;) Isn’t it nuts how little people actually know about different parts of our country? (And I giggled at the Iowa/Idaho thing… I met more than one person who thought Rhode Island was part of New York. Um, no, that would be LONG Island.)

      • Marci

        Seriously? That is hilarious. I have a friend from Rhode Island who would be extremely offended to have someone ask if he’s from NY! ;-) It is, after all (according to him anyway) the very best state there is. (I must admit that I’m rather fond of it now since that’s where my husband and I got engaged.)

  • Hello, I’m from northern Canada and I don’t live in an igloo. Amazingly we DO get summer over here and we even have grass to mow, LOL! not everyone enjoys hockey though I certainly do but I’ll still say that the majority of us are very polite ;).

  • I, like Marci am from Iowa, (although I am a farmer’s daughter)and have been living in Alabama for the last (oh geez!) nearly 7 years. I get the Idaho/Iowa/Ohio thing all the time. One of my favorite University tee’s states “University of Iowa, Idaho City, Ohio”. It doesn’t help eliminate the confusion but makes me laugh. I have found that the real difference between my very rural Iowa upbringing and the more rural areas of Alabama is the accent, that’s about it. Also, I agree with Myra, definitely a lot of smart cookies here in Alabama.

  • Sonja

    I was born in Colorado, lived in Connecticut, Maine, New York, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Louisiana and Illinois all before graduating from high school. Spent a year in Odessa, Ukraine, back to Massachusetts for 10 years before getting married and moving to Kansas for the last 10 years. I can speak with any accent you want to hear :)

  • OK so first let me set the record straight. There is no debate. Virginia is the South, hello?! Richmond was the capitol of the Confederacy. Who debates this?!?!! Anyway, moving on. I grew up in the southern most part of Virginia, but I never met so many rednecks in all my life until I moved to Washington state…weird, huh? There are some super hillbillies here and I was so shocked. I guess I thought all of WA was Seattle, but it’s mostly farming. I have a friend from West VA, where everyone is a hillybilly, right? He told me the “regular” West Virginians call the hillbillies “hoopies.” I’m guessing the hoopies must be Deliverance types.
    It’s pretty weird the preconceived regional prejudices. I never really took note until you pointed it out.

  • Celine

    I really like that you touched on this. There does seem to be a good amount of Regional prejudice.

    I’ve done some traveling and lived somewhere other then the state I was born in, raised in, and currently reside in. I’ve had dozens of people not even know where our state is, then when you give them two well know references points they want to know why you don’t have an accent like one or the other of the people from those places. Seriously, a lot more influences an accent then just where you live.

  • I grew up in OH and now live in PA. I’m just one state over, but it is amazing the cultural differences that I’ve found. Food, language, architecture, and more! So many things are different. We may live in the same country, but there are certainly different cultures around every corner!

  • Dawn

    The main point that has not been mentioned yet is that people from other places while they assume many things about other places seems to assume the worse of the stereotypes are true of other regions–for example, that all Southerns are racists. I hate to bring it up but sadly this is what many people think. I was raised in the Midwest, St. Louis, and went to the University of Alabama for two years. I lived in one dorm surrounded by people of all races and felt welcome by all. When I transferred to another region, I encountered real racism between whites, blacks, as well as prejudice between Iranians and U.S citizens, etc. But, I don’t think it is because that region was racist. Just those people were.

    There is always something good to say about the many places I have lived, Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washinton DC. Regional prejudice, or any prejudice really, upsets me so much because of the assumptions that are made before anyone has met, spoken a word, expressed a thought. Differences may cause us discomfort but they also make for interesting conversation and opportunities in life. If we were all the same, life would be dull. So let’s enjoy the different regions, and cultures, in our big country, and world. That’s what I want to do. And when I meet that regionally prejudice person, I stick out my hand and say, hi, nice to meet you, I’m Dawn from the South (Midwest, East or whatever region they happen to be prejudice against). Then I try to experience something different.

    • I totally agree with you, Dawn. In fact, I thought (?) that was what I wrote about. :) I, too, have encountered far too much prejudice about “other places” and it bothers me immensely. There are good and bad things about every single place in this world and there is no way to group all people in one category, even if they share geography. I like your attitude about it all and appreciate that you, too, feel there is always something good to say– that’s how I feel about the many places I’ve lived, as well. Thanks for commenting!

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