Social Question

TLRobinson's avatar

What's your perception/ assumption of people who live in the South?

Asked by TLRobinson (2360 points ) March 22nd, 2010

There may be perceptions about people who live in a specific region of America. What’s been your experience and more importantly what’s been your assumption, that was ultimately proven incorrect?

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72 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

Most of the Southerners I’ve met are well-educated and liberal. However, my impression of the south is of racist rednecks. I’ve heard people say that the South is a kind of cultural wasteland. I’m not sure what they are talking about, but it’s enough to make me not really interested in visiting. I think I’d feel too out of place.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

You can have their deep fryers when you pull them from their dead greasy fingers.

CMaz's avatar

It is just that, a perception.

missingbite's avatar

@wundayatta What? You have never met a racist redneck but your perception is that is what we are so you don’t want to ever visit? Who is racist here? Sounds like you are against southerners!

TLRobinson's avatar

@wundayatta – Where does that perception derive from?

njnyjobs's avatar

Nothing, except that they have mild winters and hot as hell summers. . . .

missingbite's avatar

@TLRobinson Liberal ignorance. Oh wait, I’m putting all liberals into a class even though the ones I know are not ignorant but someone told me they were.

CMaz's avatar

@njnyjobs – See, another perception.

Living in the south, I find the winters frigg’in cold. and the summers comfortable. ;-)

wundayatta's avatar

@missingbite I’m answering the question. I’m not saying I’m right. I don’t expect to be blasted just because of my perceptions. Why are you taking this so personally. You can diss the North and I won’t care or even say anything about it. And just because that’s my perception has nothing to do with my approach to individuals, whom I always treat respectfully until they do something mean.

@TLRobinson Probably a lot of places. Civil rights era struggles. Images of good ol’ boys. Things that people have told me. Christian fundamentalism.

Ron_C's avatar

Lots of chubby blond women, sweet tea, anything made of pork. Friendly but overly religious.

holden's avatar

That it’s a place where segregated proms and outlawing homosexual intercourse are totally ok.

CMaz's avatar

And your point is? ;-)

njnyjobs's avatar

@ChazMaz I guess merely saying South is a bit ambiguous… so my perception is incorrect then. . . which kinda suppots the subject that perceptions have no factual basis but one’s insight of things.

Blackberry's avatar

My perceptions of people in the south didn’t change much when I went there. Of course I only met a small group of people. I am aware that there are smart liberals and atheists etc. in the south.

meagan's avatar

Aww. I’m from the South and I love it! Everyone is really, really friendly. Even going to the gym is nice. Everyone politely smiles at each other, tells each other good morning, talks about the weather, etc.
Its really nice where I live!
I’d never want to live anywhere else. :)

CMaz's avatar

@njnyjobs – I prefer the word perception to insight. :-)

missingbite's avatar

@wundayatta I take it personal because I live here and you apparently think most of my friends and relatives are racist rednecks even though you have never met any of them. Maybe not individually but as a group. The worst part is you admit you have no desire to visit and make an opinion of your own.

What would you say if I made an assumption that all black people or homosexuals were a certain way even though the ones I have met were good people? I’d be racist. So since that is what you have done you must be too.

You are the reason people have bad perceptions. You read about things or hear them and group all of us into the same category. Do you think there are no racist people in California.

Even though we disagree, come on down and I’ll buy the first round and show you all the culture you can handle.

Likeradar's avatar

My perception is that the south has a whole lot of people who will give you a saccharine smile then talk shit as soon as you leave earshot.
I got that perception from living in SC for many years.
I’d much rather people not smile at me at all than do it without good intent. Phony friendliness sucks.

njnyjobs's avatar

@ChazMaz I would, too, but it looked stooowpeed to use a word to describe the same word. . . ; }

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I’ve often met people from the South (US South) who are slow-talking but fast-thinking people who like you to think, sometimes, that they are “slow” because of the pace of their conversation.

My earliest encounters with southerners was in North Carolina, where I went to work for a time many years ago. The first two people I met there, my boss and the boilermaker foreman who would be working with us, were interesting characters. My boss was one of the quickest-witted people I had ever met, and a very sharp thinker, and the BM foreman was a ‘back home’ sort of guy, quiet, tobacco-chewin’ good-ol-boy lookalike—and smart as a whip. I learned very early not to make assumptions based on appearances alone, especially not something as superficial as accent and colorful expression (which they had grown up with, after all, and not invented themselves).

And the third guy, who acted like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, the boilermaker steward, tried to play a wonderful practical joke on me—it would have been wonderful for him and terribly embarrassing for me if it had worked—taught me never to take things at face value.

ucme's avatar

As A Brit the perception is fuelled by movies such as Southern Comfort & Deliverance.Of course it would be foolish to make assumptions based on these factors, so I don’t. Incidentally in Britain people who live in the south are referred to in some circles as southern softies.

Haleth's avatar

@meagan That’s true! I went to art school in Richmond, VA, and people are so friendly there. People say hi for no reason, chat about random stuff, give you random freebies in restaurants and bars, and there just generally seem to be less rules. The last time I went to Richmond it was a really nice day during the summer, so everyone went to this island in the middle of the James River. People were having picnics, playing in the water, with all their kids and dogs and families. A group of young people was just sitting in the river in the middle of the day, drinking beer. At night, there are tons of bonfires out there, but the island is never dirty! I live in DC now and it’s only 100 miles north, but stuff like that isn’t even possible. The waterfront is all national parks or expensive bars, apartments, and restaurants.

Other places I’ve visited in the south have had the same fun, friendly vibe, and the rules tend to be relaxed a bit. I dated a guy from Mississippi who needed an important document from his home state sent to his employer. When it came in, it was missing a signature. He thought he would have to send it back in the mail and wait a long time, but he called the office in Mississippi to see what they would say. Their response was, “Why don’t you just sign it yourself?” He said he wanted to move back someday because everything is smooth sailing there.

thriftymaid's avatar

Just like anywhere else, there are all kinds of people in the south. Most of the middle class are friendly, sharp witted, and educated. They are hospitable and polite. They love liberty and freedom and do not advocate interfering in each others business. They are fun-loving and the most staunch sports fans you will find anywhere. Southerners generally live by a strict moral code and have a strong work ethic. The south offers the best BBQ in the country,and politics is always a good source of entertainment. Those with funky perceptions, just stay away. That’s what the southerners want.

wilma's avatar

My perception, from several visits there is that they are pretty much like people everywhere. Some smart, some stupid, some ambitious, some lazy, etc.
I did notice a slower pace, than in the north where I live. Most people working seemed to take their time more than up north, but that may be a result of the heat, I don’t know.
I think that for the most part they were polite, but not overly friendly. I was in a metropolitan area and they seemed to be a bit more friendly in the more rural areas. I find that to be the case everywhere I visit.

Haleth's avatar

@wilma I find city people to be friendlier, too. I don’t know why that is, because conventional wisdom is that people in cities are stuck up and people in the country are welcoming, salt of the earth types. Maybe it’s because rural places have more tight-knit communities, and they’re wary of outsiders.

majorrich's avatar

Grits for breakfast. Ewwwww.

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

Sadly, there is always a certain amount of truth in a stereotype. I don’t subscribe to most of those beliefs, but I DO understand how they are perpetuated. My experience is limited to the few southern states I have actually visited which include Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas, Georgia and Florida and while there are many areas that resist common stereotypes, there are just as many or more that help define them. I try to avoid areas where a heavily redneck influence is readily apparent, but my reasons for avoiding those areas are based on my own past experiences and not on some imagined stereotype.

DominicX's avatar

The South seems to me to be more conservative (election results show this as being true) and more homophobic (I’ve met many LGBT kids online who live in the south and experience quite a hell there, not to mention that whole deal with the canceled prom because of the lesbian girl). It also seems to be very Christian, mostly Protestant. Another perception I have is that it has a high percentage of uneducated people.

Other than that, it seems hot and humid, which I do often like, and it seems poorer (again, this is true based on figures for median income. Southern states often have quite low numbers). A place I would love to visit, but not live in. (I’ve been to southern Florida, but I know that doesn’t really count).

CMaz's avatar

@njnyjobs – We see a mirage on the horizon. We perceive it to be water, but our insight tells us otherwise.
:-)

Facade's avatar

They sound unintelligent, which is a big turn off for me. They’re also pretty boisterous, which is annoying as I am mild-mannered. On the other hand, they’re very polite =)

I’m from VA, now living in NJ. People here think VA is the south, which is weird to me.

gemiwing's avatar

The South is fascinating to me. The most liberal people I’ve met, the most old-fashioned people too are here. I’ve found it depends on which part of the South one is talking about.

There is a huge difference between Texas and North Carolina. There is a large difference between mountain people, holler people, country people and urban people in the South.

There is, even in one state, varying degrees of custom, food, religion, economics and social beliefs. Take Tennessee for example. Eastern TN almost seceded from the rest of the state over the Civil War. Western TN is more rural, farmland and slower to change. While in East TN there is Oak Ridge- a center for research and science.

I’ve met hermits who are incredibly liberal. I’ve met 80 year old women who lived in poverty and were the smartest people I’ve ever known. I’ve met people from cities, like Louisville, KY; a strong blue in a sea of red state (also the most populous area in KY). I’ve met people in Orlando, FL who are supposedly more urban- yet they hold to centuries-old bigotry. I’ve known radicals in Asheville, NC who protest fur, meat and for human rights.

The South, like most of America, is much more nuanced and diverse than our popular media/conceptions would have us believe.

Nullo's avatar

My perception is that they’re either misunderstood or (more likely) misrepresented.

Shae's avatar

Keep thinking it sucks down here…. we like it that way.

CMaz's avatar

Yes we do!

wilma's avatar

@Haleth I think that you misunderstood me, I have found the rural people to be more welcoming and friendly. That is just my perception and I have found that in other countries as well as the US. It could be me though, that I feel more comfortable in a rural setting.

Ron_C's avatar

I real all of the other answers and agree that there is a lot of diversity in the Southern U.S. My favorite though, is still the chubby blonds. There are more of them in Georgia and South Carolina than anywhere I have ever visited. I like chubby burnettes in other places, or chubby black, asian, or other girls too. Don’t care much for skinny girls.

KhiaKarma's avatar

People are people pretty much anywhere you go. The food changes and how people like to have a good time- but otherwise….

I love the South though, cause what would I do without my sweet tea, Dr. pepper, and Mud Bugs? It was hard for me not to take some of the above comments personally too, @missingbite. But I could feed into the stereotypes too and start spouting off what I think of Northerns- but what good would that do? as I stuff my saccharine smile with deep fried deliciousness Guess I’ll just have to wait for that question.

Cruiser's avatar

I love southerners and have many as friends but I swear there are sections of the south that still think there is a war on. I was in Southern Illinois along the Ohio river and HS did I catch flak as a Yankee!

tinyfaery's avatar

My personal perception is that if I went to the South in a tank top (I have many tattoos) holding my wife’s hand (I am also a woman) we’d be stared at, sneered at, ridiculed and potentially be in danger. That is why I will probably never travel there.

Shae's avatar

@tinyfaery I live in the deep South and know many people with tats and have lots of gay friends.

phillis's avatar

I grew up in the deep south; Georgia, specifically. I know southerners intimately. One thing the rest of the country fails to understand is the inherent difference between a redneck and a Southerner. Maybe I can clear it up a bit.

I have no problem admitting that, outside the Atlanta metropolitan area, there does indeed exist a faction of people commonly referred to as “rednecks”, who take great pride in all the wrong things. It’s the utter lack of wanting anything more out of life, I suppose, that bothers me the most. It is THE reason I did not marry until I was 36 years old. I am not thrilled with their lifestyle whatsoever. Every time I see a man who spits tobacco onto someone’s lawn (or his girlfriend does), or who thinks he is dressed nicely as long as his camoflage shirt tail is tucked in, I run HARD in the opposite direction.

That being said, the difference between a southerner and a redneck is a point well worth emphasizing. We are not all rednecks. A redneck is satisfied with poor manners and the fact that his is descended from a long line of poorly educated, ill-mannered kinfolk. A Southerner understands that there are a million points of view, and seeks to understand as many of them as possible. If that includes reading, then a Southerner picks up a book and gets started.

A redneck is not phased in the least that his huntin’ dog has a bellyful of worms, is miserable from fleas, anemic from ticks, or that it’s diet is primarily made up of leftover cornbread and biscuits. Nor does it bother him that his “lawn” is littered with strewn Mountain Dew and Budweiser cans, and a broken down,up-on-blocks ‘78 Z28 that has yet to be restored…...since 1988. As long as his truck has a gun rack on it, all is right with the world. Medicaid and food stamps will take care of the rest.

Southerners have no lack of ambition, and will work thier asses off from sunup to sundown, to make an honest day’s pay. We work hard, and we play hard…...when we can afford it. We are conscious that others share the world with us, so we work HARD to be respectful in all ways. If your mama is in the hospital, everybody might know it before the next day, but we are also there to bring you more food than you can shake a stick at.

We have a proud heritage and will tentatively approach a conversation with you that highlights some of the things we admire about it, but we won’t push the subject on you. You’re busy – we understand that. If you knock on the door, you won’t stand there for long. We’ll give you a big grin and ask you why you’re still standing out there, when all of us are here inside :)

There isn’t a single home of a true Southerner you can break down in front of that won’t holler out the screen door and give a friendly offer to help you, even to this day. We’re proud of that, so we won’t be changing it any time soon. The Mrs. will be out directly to give you a glass of some of our famous sweet iced tea. You want lemon with that? If you need a ride to the parts store, let’s go! You can’t make a body wait forever! That would be rude.

Yep…...you can spot a true Southerner right off. And we can spot you, too. So don’t let the drawl fool you. We’re not fooled at all. Ya’ll have a nice day, now.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

They were some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met :)

tinyfaery's avatar

@Shae Yeah? Well I will tell that to a group of lesbian friends who went to Tenessee and were attacked outside of a diner.

Shae's avatar

@tinyfaery I’m sorry to hear that but I am positive I could find just as many stories just like that set in the North.

tinyfaery's avatar

Go for it. I’d love to see the comparisons.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@tinyfaery I think she’s right, unfortunately. I’m from the north, and I know a lot of people who live ‘off the beaten path’. There’s maybe a good reason why the path to their doors isn’t so well-worn. I had to tell my father-in-law once, point blank between the two of us, that when he was in his house he could say whatever he wanted about anyone, and I couldn’t say a word about it. But in my house and in front of my kids… there were things that crossed the line.

He still crossed the line from time to time, of course.

missingbite's avatar

@tinyfaery, Cali, NY,SF Here are three and I can keep going if you need me too. It happens everywhere. Again, have a visit, I’ll buy the first round and show you some great places. Some gay some straight. None of my straight friends will judge you and if you become friends with us we will defend your rights to the death.

missingbite's avatar

In fact, take a look at this stat

DominicX's avatar

@missingbite

Just because it happens everywhere doesn’t mean it isn’t more likely to happen in certain areas. Of course it happens everywhere. That’s the world. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t higher instances of it in certain areas.

missingbite's avatar

@DominicX, take a look at this stat My state, LA had 2 CA had 246.

DominicX's avatar

@missingbite

California has almost 10x the population of Louisiana. Not to mention it’s extremely diverse.

Additionally, South Carolina, Georgia, and Arkansas don’t even have hate crime laws. And no southern states except Florida, Louisiana, and Texas include sexual orientation in their hate crime laws.

I’d also be willing to bet that Californians report hate crimes more and that there are more openly gay people in California since they do seem to flock to places like San Francisco or Massachusetts; that may explain Massachusetts’ high number as well.

missingbite's avatar

@DominicX Thank you for making my point. It happens everywhere. Louisiana had 2 X 10 (your number) = 200. Cali = 246. No safer per/person.

If you want to think of us as backward ass racist hateful people you can, that will be to your problem.

DominicX's avatar

@missingbite

Way to put words in my mouth. Stop being so defensive.

missingbite's avatar

@DominicX I shouldn’t have used the word you. I apologize. The last comment of my post was not directed at “you”. It was directed at anyone that wants to think that way of people from the south. Again, I’m sorry it sounded that way.

majorrich's avatar

Sure it’s hot, but it’s a humid, miserable kind of heat.

Shae's avatar

http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2005/table12.htm

Alabama is looking like a pretty nice place to be, but I knew that already.

Please listen to my true feelings http://www.eventsounds.com/wav/haha.wav

DominicX's avatar

@Shae

Look at the population covered by Alabama’s agencies: 455,000

Look at the population covered by California’s agencies: 36,000,000

Alabama’s agencies are not covering the entire population of the state. Alabama has a population of around 4.6 million.

Shae's avatar

So, she said that the South was a scary place and that she wouldn’t go there, well she has been proved wrong. The whole country is frakking scary and my Southern state is the least scary in both lists. lol

Even if Alabama and California had the same population we would still be at 79 to Calis 1379

missingbite's avatar

@DominicX Look at the stat I sent. The number of attacks as a percentage are the same or lower in the south. Even if we ignore the states that don’t count sexual orientation, the states right next door are very low. BTW 18 states don’t include sexual orientation in hate crime legislation. Some in the northwest, some northeast, and yes some in the south. Here is the map.

DominicX's avatar

@Shae

Look at that chart you linked to again. Alabama lists that the population covered by its hate crime agencies is 455,000. Alabama has a population of 4,600,000. Its agencies do not cover the entire population of the state, unlike California’s which cover the full 36,000,000. Not to mention look where it says “agencies submitting incident reports”. Under Alabama it says “0”. They are not even submitting the reports in the first place. How can you consider that an accurate representation of hate crimes in Alabama? 455,000 is about as many people who live in the city of Sacramento alone. It would make sense that there might not be any hate crimes reported in that small of a sample, or at most only a few.

missingbite's avatar

Edit my post earlier. 2 X 10 = 20. I type too fast. :)

Shae's avatar

1 Agencies published in this table indicated that no hate crimes occurred in their jurisdictions during the quarter(s) for which they submitted reports to the Hate Crime Statistics Program. Blanks indicate quarters for which agencies did not submit reports.

http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2008/data/table_14al.html

wilma's avatar

@phillis , Yes I have seen your South and I liked it very much.
I broke down last year on I-75 in a thunderstorm. I was traveling all alone. The gentlemen who helped me treated me just like I was their momma or their sister.
There are rednecks everywhere, not just in the south; we have plenty in my neck of the woods too.

gemiwing's avatar

It’s true that people are attacked everywhere. Sad, but true. There are places in Michigan I wouldn’t feel safe in, definitely parts of Penn freaked me out. I suppose it’s easier to feel comfortable in our own environments.

deni's avatar

The only assumption I have is that they all have thick typical southern accents and in my experience there (which has only been traveling through states such as tennessee, alabama, arkansas) at gas stations and such has proved that assumption is correct. I almost fell over the first time I went into a gas station and heard the guy talk. He sounded exactly like Peyton Manning lollol I thought it was funny.

KhiaKarma's avatar

@deni I have had similar experiences at gas stations and I have lived in the South my whole life. That is not typically my daily reality. However, where I live now- there are a bunch of Yats. (“where y’at?”) You’d never know it unless you have been to New Orleans, but they have a very distinct, almost Brooklyn-type accent. Just goes to show….

I think it’s interesting the direction that this thread went. I have many gay, lesbian, and tatooed friends. Tatoos are soooo South, don’t ya know! I also have a lesbian friend who was harassed in a small West Texas town. (& assaluted when she was in High School for her sexulity) There is lots of growth and understanding needed in many places. In the South as well as other places.

Yee Haw y’all! or fellow Southerners- do you spell it “ya’ll” I have had endless debates with friends.

missingbite's avatar

@KhiaKarma It’s y’all! You got it right the first time! I travel the world for my job and it’s amazing how much I lose my accent when I’m away from home and how fast I get it back once home.

Shae's avatar

@missingbite I do the same. Really depends on who I am around. I have people question my Southerness when I am away. Get me home though and some chicken on the stove and I’ll drop my g’s in a city minute.

KhiaKarma's avatar

@missingbite haha! I know, right!?

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

To clarify and add to my earlier answer, I regularly see a mix of stereotypical and non-stereotypical behavior above the Mason-Dixon line too! You don’t have to go too far from home to see a walking stereotype. All you have to do is look out the front window. We might all get along better if we met and got to know our neighbors and learn what makes them tick, rather than sitting on the couch with a beer in our hands, getting all of our social skills from some moronic television sitcom.

phillis's avatar

@wilma I know! That is exactly how things work down here :)

Nullo's avatar

@Cruiser
I think that the problem there was that you were in Southern Illinois. That’s got to be the most unearthly part of the entire planet, so it’s little wonder that they’re weird.
As an adopted Missourian, I am permitted to take issue with Illinois general creepiness.

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