Bias, Labels & Stereotypes
Growing up in a small Texas town while having family from Northern states made me realize something at a very young age: People do not get us. By “us” I mean people from the South. Granted some of the more ridiculous questions I’ve been asked were from children in Pennsylvania when I was younger, but here’s just an example of some of the questions I’ve been asked:
- Do you (those crazy Northern folk don’t say “y’all”) ride horses to school?
- Do you have satellite?
You can’t make that stuff up. Here are some common misconceptions about people from the South.
We’re All Republicans.
Granted, many Southern states are red states in elections, but if you look at the percentages of votes, many counties don’t win Republican by much. Not to mention that tons of Northern counties vote republican as well. Check out this USA Today map of the 2004 elections:
The blue on the map represents counties that voted for John Kerry, the Democrat candidate, and the red represents counties that voted for George Bush, the Republican candidate. As anyone can clearly see, there were plenty of Northern counties voting Republican and some Southern counties voting Democrat.
We All Have “Hick” Accents.
We might say “y’all” instead of “you guys” or “y’ins,” but the majority of us, especially those growing up around big cities like Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, have very little of the Southern Hollywood seems to love portraying us as having. I literally cringe every time I watch the TV show Friday Night Lights; I do not speak like that, I don’t know anyone who does, and I’ve lived in the South my entire life. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with speaking with a Southern draw, but Hollywood could at least make an attempt represent us accurately.
We’re All Racist.
The history books we grew up studying in school failed in one big respect: The American Civil War was not simply over the preservation of slavery; it was a war over states’ rights and excessive taxation. The simple fact is that, at the time, there was controversy on just how much involvement the federal government should have in state governments (sound familiar to current times?); the federal government’s involvement with the anti-slavery movement set many Southern states off because they felt that state governments, through citizen voting, should determine laws on such things. And with increasing pressure by Northern states in the late 1850’s to increase taxes to benefit their industries, Southerners became upset. Before and after those taxes were implemented with Abraham Lincoln’s entry into office, Southern states began seceding.
We All Wield Shotguns.
I’m from the South and I have never in my life even held shotgun, nor do I plan to after seeing the outcome of one of Dick Cheney’s hunting excursions. Those that do have shotguns are not jumping out of their front door and threatening trespassers every chance they get either. Shot guns are used by hunters, and not just in the South. People certainly hunt down here, but some Northern states actually have state-wide holidays specifically so that people can go hunting.
Hello? Just like in every other state, our children are required to go to school. And, have you ever heard of the University of Texas, Vanderbilt University, Rice University, Tulane University, Duke University, or the College of William & Mary? And those are only naming a few of the universities in the South known for their selective and highly regarded education programs.