To outsiders, the American South is an odd collection of peoples and cultures - often portrayed by negative stereotypes of rednecks, the Ku Klux Klan, the Confederate Flag and the film Deliverance. To Southerners, the South is home, sweet, home.
Often pegged as a breeding ground for homophobia and racism, the South has undergone some cultural reformation in the past few years with an influx of influence from Hispanics, African-Americans, old people and others who have moved there. Having once seceded from the United States1, some anti-Northern sentiment still exists. Visiting Northerners might still be lucky enough to hear 'Yankee go home' if they play their cards right.
The true culture of the South still remains in its small towns and tight-knit communities where everyone knows each other. Some villages still have a general store where old men sit outside in rocking chairs and play checkers on an old cider barrel while discussing the weather and politics. Such towns are becoming more rare as the customs of days gone by are abandoned for a faster pace of life. Alas, metropolitan areas are growing quickly as people move to the South for its warm climate.
From the shipyards of Virginia to the corn and tobacco farms of the Carolinas, from the elderly folk-oriented businesses of Florida to Atlanta’s banking powerbase, the economic strength of the South sits with its many industries; both old and new. Exports from the South include the blues, country music, lawn mower racing, Phillip Morris tobacco and foods, Jeff Foxworthy’s redneck jokes, fried pickles, kudzu, gun racks, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers and The Black Crowes, NASCAR auto racing, Elvis and, consequently, Elvis impersonators.
If you find yourself in the South, be sure to visit the Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta, the site of the Olympic Park bombing (also in Atlanta), Yee Haw Junction in Florida, Graceland2, the Jerry Lee Family Museum in Ferriday, Louisiana, and Carl's Corner town/truck stop in Texas.
States that comprise the South include:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Unless, of course, you consider it a sovereign nation as some do.