Sunday, October 26, 2003
Where Exactly Is Dixie?
The red-shaded area on the map above is generally inhabited primarily by Southerners. The blue-shaded areas are populated mostly by Yankees. Yes, that includes about 50% of Florida.
The areas shaded in light green, while often thought of by Yankees as "Southern," are actually populated by Hillbilllies. Southerners make a huge distinction between these two cultural groups (think of Rhett Butler as compared to Jedd Clampett of the Beverly Hillbillies...got it now?). While most Hillbillies are geographically situated in the South, this does not make them Southerners by any means. Generations of sharp cultural differences make Hillbillies vividly distinct and separate from their Southern cousins (and yes, there are Hillbillies and Southerners within the same families).
The areas shaded in pink are populated by Southern Wannabes - people who think they're Southern, but who, by their lifestyle choices and heritage, don't make the cut. This is an interesting group, members of which sometimes think of themselves as Yankees, but who secretly (or openly) desire to be labeled as "Southern." Note that these areas include a large portion of Kentucky (about as un-Southern a state as ever existed), plus all of Metro Nashville, the northern suburbs of Atlanta (heavily populated with Yankee transplants), Hilton Head, South Carolina, and a section of central Florida. With only a minor shift, any of these regions could easily become full-fledged blue or orange territories, i.e., Yankee or Midwesterner.
Beyond these areas, we have regions inhabited by Midwesterners, Cowboys, and Mountaineers - all groups that could never under any circumstances be considered "Southern."
Please remember that these boundaries are fluid, and that they wander back and forth from time to time. Areas shrink and grow, and are always subject to change. For example, if Huntsville, Ala., picks up a few more Yankee immigrants, they'll soon probably have to be shaded pink!
With that in mind, these regions shouldn't be considered set in stone, but rather as approximate guidelines for consideration by the student of Southern culture.