It’s been three months (ish) since we launched this here blog, and with it the Just Folks feature. We’ve heard from so many of about your journeys from Dixie to Dumbo, about the things that people get wrong (and right) about life below the Mason-Dixon line, and about your current adventures as a Southern ex-pats in the city. Here’s what we’ve learned so far.
Southerners come from all over. We’ve heard from Kentuckians, North Carolinians, Arkansans, Tennesseans, Mississippians, and Texans who all call New York home. We’ve talked to guys and gals, writers and actors, cat moms and dog owners, mathematicians and karaoke lovers, people from big cities and folks whose hometowns are smaller than the average university.
People are baffled by a lack of twang. The number one reaction people reported when New Yorkers found out they were from the South is: “Why don’t you have an accent?” Lots of you were also told, “But you don’t seem like you’re from [insert Southern state here],” and you found that New Yorkers assumed Southerners were “backwards,” “racist,” and “stupid.”
Food is a really big freakin’ deal. From homesickness cures to the things you have to explain to non-Southerners about your home, food was all over y’all’s answers. It was also the most commonly answered category when we asked you to tell us the things that defined New York and where you’re from, with almost all of you gushing about Southern comfort staples and about the diversity of options available in New York that you can’t find back home (bagels and pizza both seem to be a very big deal).
Home isn’t a place. It’s a tier. Like the wise and wonderful Mindy Lahiri, a lot of you understand that “home” doesn’t have to be limited to one place. Most of you still feel strong ties to your roots and very much consider the South home. However, whether you’ve been here for four months or seven years, most of you have also adopted New York, and a piece of your heart belongs to Manhattan or Brooklyn. And then there are some of you who haven’t quite found that fit yet and are still searching for your true home, wherever it may be.
Y’all are Southern after all. Almost every person we talked to does consider themselves, at least to some extent, a Southerner. Most of you did not come into your Southerness easily, however, and many people said it wasn’t until they found themselves in New York (or elsewhere in the Northeast) that you realized just how deeply engrained some of your Southern traits were. And even though many of you now consider yourselves New Yorkers, you will always wear your Southerner badges as well.
We’ve had so much fun talking to you and hearing your stories, and we can’t wait to hear more! We’ll be back next Monday with a new profile, and if you’re a Southerner in the city and you’d like to share your story, please check out our questionnaire or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to chat.