In the United States of America, every region has something that is considered specific to that region. Most of the time, it isn’t as obvious as what that thing might be. However, in what is considered the South, people are very brazen when it comes to Southern culture, whether you live there or not. I myself am from the South, specifically the Southern part of Kentucky. I have noticed these trends of Southern culture all my life, I just never took too long to think about it. It wasn’t until later in life, when I was able to explore other regions, that people had this stereotype of what southerners are and how they present themselves. I read books that were set in the South, and was able to realize how much the South is different from other places. From our language to the food we eat, there are many things that are just coined as “Southern” traits, and are easily defined.
Most of the time, when I talk to northerners, they wonder if we are all racist. This comes from our distinct past with slavery. They also see how we segregate ourselves accordingly, even though there are no laws stating that we have to do this. In books set in the South, like The Help by Kathryn Stockett and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, racial segregation is a common topic, especially during these times that they were set in. In The Help the lead antagonist, Miss Hilly, states in the beginning of the book, “ ‘All these houses they’re building without maid’s quarters? It’s just plain dangerous. Everybody knows they carry different kinds of diseases than we do.’ “ It is quite clear what people thought in the days before civil rights. The novels written in these times make it easier to assume that people in the South are racist. There are, however, people who are racist because that is how their family raised them to be. This correlates with the idea that where states where slavery was prominent, they still have a deeper form of racism today.
Ya’ll think we talk funny?
The most common trait that Southerners get mocked and picked at for is our accents, the most common word being “Ya’ll”. For the longest time, I thought everyone used “ya’ll” or “ain’t”. I didn’t know that it was a southern thing until I was talking to my sister’s boyfriend (who lives in Massachusetts). I had said, “Ya’ll need to quiet down before I holler for Mama!” He said, “Did you just say ya’ll and holler?” I told him that I had and he said “I didn’t know you actually those words down there. I thought it was just a stereotype.” There are many words in the South that are not used anywhere else, such as:
- . Piddlin’
- Get a whippin’
- To hell in a handbasket
- Spittin’ image
And many, many more. There is no limit, as words are made up everyday.
Some good eatin’!
Another common thing related to the South is our food choice. We are most commonly related to our love for fried chicken and sweet tea. When my dad went to Memphis, Tennessee for a conference with his gaming pals, a girl from California who was part of his clan came too. They went to a very Southern place, with its classic foods. When the waitress came to take their orders, she said, with the thickest southern accent, “You want some sweet tea or RC Cola?” The Californian response was, “What is sweet tea or an RC Cola?’ I thought RC Cola was everywhere. Later that day, she was really thirsty and hot. My dad was used to this kind of humidity and asked her, “Have you had anything to drink all day?” She said, “Well, no.” He told her, “Our food here has way too much butter and salt for you not to be drinking anything. It is too hot here for you to be doing that!” It made me think of all of the foods that we have that are just ours. Another thing I can think of, is when my grandmother went to live in Minnesota, she was making gravy for dinner. The people she had over asked, “What’s that?” She said, “Gravy.” They had never seen gravy before, or even tasted it. It is mind-blowing to me, how these things can seem so common, yet not even common at all!
There are many other things that could be considered as Southern, like our religion (Baptist), to our moral values. Among all the things that are considered Southern, I never thought they were. I just thought that it was a way of life, not a stereotype. It never occurred to me that others don’t do and use these types of things. When you look at the culture of others, it makes you open your eyes and see the simple things that seem so complex to others. I guess you could say, that we are simply Southern.