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Old 12.07.2011, 11:09
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Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

Maybe the Americans on this forum can help me with this one.

Planning my next USA trip I have been bouncing various ideas off Americans at work to see what they think of my suggestions and maybe harvest some ideas and possibilities.

If I mention the South, and especially places like Alabama, the reaction is definitely a no no. Also, in a broader sense, when mentioning maybe some American I met with some strange or backward attitude, Americans will invariably say, "he must have been from the South" or "that's typical for the South".

On the whole, the South is presumed to be backward, primitive, rusitical. Is that so?

And more importantly, why?

I have discussed this and some have suggested, maybe it is an indirect and veiled form of (maybe subconscious) racism. The South has lots of African Americans and calling the South rustical, backward and stupid is an indirect way of saying the same about Blacks themselves. But this argument doesn't make sense to me. Cities like Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC also have lots of Black citizens but people don't called those cities rustical, backwards or primitive. Or at least I have never heard it.

Or is it maybe because people there are, um, how shall I put it, a bit rustcal? But then so is much of the Mid-West or even upstate New York, upstate Illinois etc. Yet these places don't have the same associatons as the South.

Or is it because they lost the Civil War? But isn't that a long time ago? And does it still matter?

Can anybody throw any more light on this?

Last edited by amogles; 12.07.2011 at 11:24. Reason: USA South racism
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Old 12.07.2011, 11:19
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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On the whole, the South is presumed to be backward, primitive, rusitical. Is that so?

?
No, not anymore so than the North-east outside of the posh parts of Boston and NY, Florida outside of the posh parts on the coasts, inland California, or anywhere else where regular people who can't afford million dollar houses and do not have esoteric higher-level degrees live.

There is more rural poverty in the South than in many other parts of the country, which can certainly appear more foreign than the typical urban poverty in the cities.
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Old 12.07.2011, 11:21
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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Old 12.07.2011, 11:26
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

the South tends to be more rural and thus poorer than the coasts. it's not really rooted in racism -- appalachia is also poor and rural and mostly white, and i would probably not recommend it as a tourist spot either.
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Old 12.07.2011, 11:29
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

Regional stereotypes are what they are. You might as well ask, "what is it with the Midlands?"

Most non-southerners you ask will feel obliged to deprecate the South, but don't let it put you off going there. Even if all of it were true, there's a major difference between travelling and settling down somewhere. If you do happen across a nest of unfriendly bigoted locals (which you won't - people will be friendly, whatever else they are) you can always move on to the next town.

You know the way some Swiss will go on about foreigners, "but not you, you're the good kind of foreigner"? Discomfiting but not enough to make you flee the weinstube in terror. That is the worst you will get in the South - and you probably won't even get that.
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Old 12.07.2011, 11:32
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

Alright, I'll try to explain as much as I can without offending folks.

Different areas of the US are quite different from each other. This is similar to Europe in some ways - the southern countries tend to be ("seen as", at least) a bit more laid back, napping in the afternoon, so on and like that. The countries in the north tend to be (also "seen as") more business like, prompt, serious and professional.

Add in some regional feelings that yes, STILL are around since the Civil War and you will have some more difference. This, although I've lived in the South a few years here and there (Texas and Georgia - Florida doesn't really "count" as "South" btw, particularly by the time you get to central and southern Fla), I do not quite understand as I am not a Southerner. There simply is very much a general sense of "us vs them" there, whether it is money, family status in the area, family history in the area, color of skin, etc etc... very separate.


Now, for me to comment one way or another whether YOU should visit the South, I'd have to know more about you and when you plan to visit and where exactly interests you. There are racist attitudes in the US or discriminatory about racists... so if you are non-white, you'd be advised by some to stay away from the South because some areas you may find uncomfortable. If you are white you may be advised to stay away also because there are some areas you may find uncomfy. (We had children of KKK families attending school with us in Texas - this made me uncomfy despite the fact that I'm white because I simply believe very seriously that racism is wrong.)

I wouldn't prefer to go to the southern states in the summer time myself as I know quite well how hot it is. I would definitely NOT to go to any of the areas where swamp is prevalent landscape in the summer - this means Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and east Texas and southwest Georgia - as it smells like swamp and no matter how clean the carpet, it feels sticky because of humidity.


All of this is lessened to some extent by confining your visits to the larger cities. Atlanta, Birmingham, Houston, Charlotte, etc, rather than visiting smaller towns. So, it depends on you, where you want to go and how you feel about how people treat other people.
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Old 12.07.2011, 11:34
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

Could it be that it was partially Mexico many years ago?
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Old 12.07.2011, 11:43
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

I am by all technical aspects a southerner, and I have never lived in a Yankee state, unless you count Miami, which is actually North Havana.

Southerners tend to more traditional and conservative. They tend to have less education. Higher rates of teenage pregnancy, obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. They tend to be poorer, more blue collar. Most people don't go to the South for well-paying jobs. They will go for low-skilled manufacturing jobs. They tend to be non-unionized. I never even saw a real, live Union until I moved to Kentucky.

Fox News is a large contributor to attitudes regarding politics and social issues. This is because Fox News is carried on "basic" cable packages at a lower cost to the consumer, where as rivals CNN and MSNBC tend to be on more expensive packages. There still tends to be a LOT of racism in the South. They love their guns and their religion. Also because they tend to be less educated, they are more close minded towards differences like gays, Islam, race, non-English speakers, etc.

There are of course, urban islands of sanity, like Atlanta, Savannah, Birmingham, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, etc.

Odds are most American expats you meet are from the coasts. The coasts attract more liberal attitudes, more socialist attitudes, higher paying industry and jobs that demand an educational background and a more complex skill set. This could be reflective of the types of responses you've received when telling people of your plan to visit The South.

And we simply divide this up by referring to "Red" states and "Blue" states, because these attitudes are easily reflected in our politics. "Red" equals conservative (and tends to be rural western and southern states) and "Blue" equals liberal (Coastal and upper Midwestern states).

Then there are anomolies... states like Florida... where "immigrants" from the North in places like Orlando, Miami, Tampa, etc, have liberalized the demographics, but the Old South is still very much alive in places like Pensacola, Tallahasee and Jacksonville.

There are other anomolies, and I could go on for days describing all of them. But the take home message is that the South is looked down upon by the North, and the North is looked down upon by the South. The attitudes towards each other and the cultural differences still alive today can be traced all the way back to the Civil War.
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Old 12.07.2011, 11:46
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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Could it be that it was partially Mexico many years ago?
The southeastern US is commonly referred to as "The South."

So even though Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California (which we stole from Mexico along with Colorado, Utah and Nevada) are technically the geographical South of the United States, it's not really considered to be "The South".

Last edited by KeinFranzösisch; 12.07.2011 at 11:57.
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Old 12.07.2011, 11:55
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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The southeastern US is commonly referred to as "The South."
I see, the OP is referring to a different side of the country.
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Old 12.07.2011, 12:01
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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Maybe the Americans on this forum can help me with this one.

Planning my next USA trip I have been bouncing various ideas off Americans at work to see what they think of my suggestions and maybe harvest some ideas and possibilities.

If I mention the South, and especially places like Alabama, the reaction is definitely a no no. Also, in a broader sense, when mentioning maybe some American I met with some strange or backward attitude, Americans will invariably say, "he must have been from the South" or "that's typical for the South".
The South is a big place so is there anyplace in particular that got more of a reaction than others? Atlanta is in the South, but it is a really big, bustling city with a lot to offer. Mississppi and Alabama, with apologies to those from there, top the charts on poverty and lack of education and certain types of crime. Yes, there are many issues dealing with race down South, but that is less of a problem these days in terms of travel. Have you see the episode of Top Gear where they drive through the south and almost get shot? That might do a better of explaining their reaction.

Primarily, though, at this time of year, the South is hot and humid on steroids. If you don't like to sweat, wait until Christmas and go visit Savannah.
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Old 12.07.2011, 12:01
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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I have discussed this and some have suggested, maybe it is an indirect and veiled form of (maybe subconscious) racism. The South has lots of African Americans and calling the South rustical, backward and stupid is an indirect way of saying the same about Blacks themselves. But this argument doesn't make sense to me. Cities like Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC also have lots of Black citizens but people don't called those cities rustical, backwards or primitive. Or at least I have never heard it.

Whoever said that to you has absolutely no idea what they're talking about. People in the South are called ''backwards'' precisely because of their racism towards non-whites (well, foreigners in general!), as well as their intolerant views on abortion, homosexuality, muslims and so on. That is the general stereotype.

Don't be surprised if you see something like this on your trip:









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Old 12.07.2011, 12:03
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

The South is still largley agricultural, and for some reason, rustic
people are stereotyped as not educated.

Farmers and ranchers are actually quite high tech these days.

There is a lot of racism in the South. When I was living in NY, people
didn't say the "N" word but referred to Polish as Pollacks, Jews as
Kikes, insert whatever ethnic group here,etc.
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Old 12.07.2011, 12:03
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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Whoever said that to you has absolutely no idea what they're talking about. People in the South are called ''backwards'' precisely because of their racism towards non-whites (well, foreigners in general!), as well as their intolerant views on abortion, homosexuality, muslims and so on. That is the general stereotype.

Don't be surprised if you see something like this on your trip:
Have you ever been to the Souffff?
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Old 12.07.2011, 12:04
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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Primarily, though, at this time of year, the South is hot and humid on steroids. If you don't like to sweat, wait until Christmas and go visit Savannah.

Yes... but if it's too hot for one's liking, everything is air conditioned, even in the murkiest of Louisiana bayeaus on a hot August afternoon.

I'll refrain from digressing further into the benefits universal air conditioning would bring to Europe.
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Old 12.07.2011, 12:10
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

Nutin....I could say a few things and then I would have to ban myself

It is very different down there, gotta say. Both North and South are special, though, hard to stereotype about such a gigantic area. Depends who you hang out with and what cities you in. I personally love some music college towns, know a lot of people from New Orleans and worked with them, love the weather, too. And generally warmer, slower interraction, though one has to be able to read for genuinety. FLA was fun, too, kinda Blackpool way. It seemed to me that people up North travel more and have more accurate knowledge about the world, might not be as centric, but again, it is too hard to make general statements.

Go to the South, you will love it. Food, BBQs, ocean, etc.
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Old 12.07.2011, 12:11
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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Yes... but if it's too hot for one's liking, everything is air conditioned, even in the murkiest of Louisiana bayeaus on a hot August afternoon.

I'll refrain from digressing further into the benefits universal air conditioning would bring to Europe.
True, but it's hard to be a tourist if you stay inside all day I married a Nordic who starts complaining about the heat at 20C so.....YMMV in terms of heat and humidity.

Last edited by poptart; 12.07.2011 at 12:13. Reason: added a bit
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Old 12.07.2011, 12:12
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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Have you ever been to the Souffff?
Yes.


I think you missed this part of my post...

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That is the stereotype.

The image was supposed to be funny; but, you can't deny that signs like that tend to be just slightly more prevalent in the South, can you ??
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Old 12.07.2011, 12:12
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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I see, the OP is referring to a different side of the country.
Yes, although there are some issues that come up (especially, or maybe "more publicized" in the last few years) in the Spanish settled areas, it's not quite (to my eye at least) the same level of... I actually have no words.


This map may help see the region discussed some at least:

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Old 12.07.2011, 12:14
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

Even Virginia is hot and muggy in Summer. A reason why the earliy settlers died of malaria. Personally I hate living in closed areas with air con, Summer is for being outside, windows wide opened. So do my good friends from Williamsburg- who escape from mozzies and humidity every Summer to Colorado, and have done so for 40+ years.
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