Posted by
Message
ExtraSpecial
Tennessee Fan
Music City
Member since Dec 2018
2013 posts

What are your geographic boundaries for the South?
This is a contentious topic for all Americans. Depending on which part of the country you're in, people have different definitions of what constitutes the Southern cultural identity as well as the geographic region of the United States that is the South.

We'll begin with what the U.S. Census defines as the South. I'd like to say that I vehemently disagree with their version. It's hinged on the old school Mason-Dixon/Slave State definition of the South. Less Missouri, all of the former Slave States and Territories are included as being a part of the South. Take a look:



The above map is certainly not bound by cultural identity nor really geography. West Virginia, DC, Maryland and Delaware are not Southern at all. I think this is something we can all agree on.

Now this is where things get disputed: Of the remaining states, who should be included as Southerners?

I'll begin by eliminating Texas. Although Texas was settled by and shares plenty of ties with Southerners, it is so large and distinct that it really does have its own identity. Texans will be the first to tell you that they are known as Texans well before they are called Southerners. Texas may have been the South a century ago, but today, it's a very diverse and heavily populated state that has its own dialect and culinary scene. Therefore, Texas is not Southern.

Now that we've established that, let's move north to Oklahoma. I think most of us can agree that Oklahoma is not a Southern state. Although it has a similar background to its Texan neighbors- settled by Southerners and all- it has much more in common with the Plains and Texas than any Southern state. Conclusion: Oklahoma is not a part of the South.

This might seem counterintuitive, but let's look north and east of Oklahoma. I'm checking out the "Butternut" region of the Midwest. The Butternut region includes far southeastern Kansas, southern Missouri, southern Illinois, southern Indiana and far southern Ohio. This region of the Midwest features several cultural ties with the South as a result of proximity. However, I would argue that the vast majority of these folks would identify as Midwesterners before claiming themselves as Southerners. Additionally, what separates this region from the South is the very distinct difference in climate (continental vs. humid subtropical in the South) as well as its topographical features. The land in the Butternut region is almost completely flat, and the agriculture practiced in those states bears little in common with the croplands of the South. Having said that, I think we can cross off any parts of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

Alright, so what about Virginia? Thanks to the expansion of the Northeastern Megalopolis into the northern part of that state, many Virginians today have very little in common with the South. However, there is no denying that Virginia still has Southern roots. Southern "Tidewater" accents were born on the Virginia coast and spread to the rest of the South as the area became colonized by English, Scottish and Scotch-Irish settlers. And we can't neglect Virginia's importance in Southern history. So I'll compromise with Virginia: Northern VA belongs to the Northeast, but the rest of Virginia is a part of the South.

I've decided to trek back west, crossing the rugged Appalachians along the way. I eliminated West Virginia off the bat, but now I'm in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Kentucky is known for fried chicken- a very Southern dish- and its role in tobacco farming. Those are pretty darn Southern. And the people across the state of Kentucky share the same dialect as the rest of the South. The only thing holding Kentucky back is its geographic location and its climate, in which it has much more in common with the Midwest than it does with states like Mississippi and Alabama. But alas, Kentucky is still a true Southern state in my mind. I consider Kentucky to be a part of the South.

I'm traveling southwest this time to the Natural State: Welcome to Arkansas! A largely rural state, the people in Arkansas likely identify with Southerners. Unlike its western neighbor, Oklahoma, Arkansans share much more in common with the South than with Texas or the Plains. Alright, application accepted. Welcome to the South, Arkansas.

How about that French part of Louisiana? Yes, the southern half of that state. Maybe they identify as a completely different cultural region, but I think that sliver of the South is too small to be considered its own thing. Therefore, all of Louisiana belongs in the South.

And now, I've saved the best for last. Yes, Florida, I'm talking about you. If you find yourself in Florida, 1. I wish you luck and 2. the more north you travel, the more southern it gets. There are some folks in inland South Florida who would identify as Southerners, but I think the southern half of Florida is so distinct and populated enough to have officially divorced from the South. I'll do to Florida what I did to Virginia, but in the opposite direction: I'm going to circumcise the southern half of that state, but northern Florida is still a part of the South, without question. The Orlando metropolitan area is the cutoff.

If you wonder whether Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas and Tennessee are Southern or not, go get help. There's something wrong with you.
This post was edited on 11/12 at 3:10 pm


PabloSmash
LA-Monroe Fan
Kane-Tuck-Eeee
Member since Sep 2018
20 posts

re: What are your geographic boundaries for the South?
As someone from Louisiana and Texas I will say I never considered Kentucky part of the South.... until I moved here a year ago. Most of Kentucky seems to be extremely proud to be Southern. I used to think anywhere that got consistent snow wasn’t Southern haha


Arksulli
Arkansas Fan
Fayetteville
Member since Aug 2014
17944 posts
 Online 

re: What are your geographic boundaries for the South?
quote:

m traveling southwest this time to the Natural State: Welcome to Arkansas! A largely rural state, the people in Arkansas likely identify with Southerners. Unlike its western neighbor, Oklahoma, Arkansans share much more in common with the South than with Texas or the Plains. Alright, application accepted. Welcome to the South, Arkansas.


Yes, and no. The vast majority of the state is Southern as can be.

NW Arkansas is more Midwest/Great Plains then anything else. Its not bad, in fact NW Arkansas is a wonderful place to live, but its not really Southern any more.

Now, where I currently live, Eastern Arkansas just across from Memphis, is so Southern its almost scary.


pvilleguru
Atlanta United Fan
Member since Jun 2009
52899 posts

re: What are your geographic boundaries for the South?
quote:

This is a contentious topic for all Americans.
False. I really don't give a shite.


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
34
DownSouthJukin
Florida Fan
@TheUnRealFeleipeFranks
Member since Jan 2014
16693 posts

re: What are your geographic boundaries for the South?
Many of the inhabitants of southern Missouri consider themselves Southern and have closer ties to the South than the Midwest. Particularly, Southeast Missouri, including the delta and all of the Bootheel, which are much more Southern than the rest of the state.

I'd argue that a good portion of eastern and northern Texas is still the South. Maybe draw a diagonal line from Wichita Falls down to Lake Jackson and the coast.
This post was edited on 11/12 at 5:21 pm


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
40
thatguy45
Kentucky Fan
Your alter's mom's basement
Member since Sep 2017
13301 posts
 Online 

re: What are your geographic boundaries for the South?
Yeah Ohio River is a big dividing line


DownSouthJukin
Florida Fan
@TheUnRealFeleipeFranks
Member since Jan 2014
16693 posts

re: What are your geographic boundaries for the South?
quote:

NW Arkansas is more Midwest/Great Plains then anything else. Its not bad, in fact NW Arkansas is a wonderful place to live, but its not really Southern any more.


I remember when I first started going fishing up there and was shocked by the way many of the people talked. It was clear they were Midwest/Rust Belt transplants.


MeatCleaverWeaver
Georgia Fan
Member since Oct 2013
8806 posts

re: What are your geographic boundaries for the South?
For me, pretty much the SEC states before the A&M and Mizzou expansion. Florida is geographically southern, but only the northern third or less is still southern, culturally. I’ve met some people from northern KY who don’t seem very southern either, but I don’t know enough about the area to rule it out. I’m sure East Texas is very southern but I kinda group Texas as an entity unto itself.

ETA I left out NC
This post was edited on 11/13 at 8:07 pm


HooDooWitch
LSU Fan
Mandeville, La
Member since Sep 2009
7332 posts

re: What are your geographic boundaries for the South?
LA, MS, AL, GA, North FL, SC, NC, TN, AR

Everyone else is a yankee


Kcprogguitar
Missouri Fan
Kansas City
Member since Oct 2014
537 posts

re: What are your geographic boundaries for the South?
You mean conqueror.


thatguy45
Kentucky Fan
Your alter's mom's basement
Member since Sep 2017
13301 posts
 Online 

re: What are your geographic boundaries for the South?


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
43
Arksulli
Arkansas Fan
Fayetteville
Member since Aug 2014
17944 posts
 Online 

re: What are your geographic boundaries for the South?
quote:

I remember when I first started going fishing up there and was shocked by the way many of the people talked. It was clear they were Midwest/Rust Belt transplants.


It really is the Walmart/Tyson thing. People from all over the country have flocked to NW Arkansas, particularly from the Midwest and Rust Belt areas. Now NW Arkansas is just a wonderful place to live. It is amazing.

But when you meet folks whose families have lived in NW Arkansas for generations they sound nothing like a lot of the folks up there now.


thatguy45
Kentucky Fan
Your alter's mom's basement
Member since Sep 2017
13301 posts
 Online 

re: What are your geographic boundaries for the South?
quote:

It really is the Walmart/Tyson thing. People from all over the country have flocked to NW Arkansas, particularly from the Midwest and Rust Belt areas.

Emigration happens when industries leave, cough GM cough
This post was edited on 11/12 at 6:43 pm


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
31
kywildcatfanone
Kentucky Fan
Wildcat Country!
Member since Oct 2012
65755 posts

re: What are your geographic boundaries for the South?
quote:

until I moved here a year ago. Most of Kentucky seems to be extremely proud to be Southern.


There are as many dixie badges on trucks here as there are in Alabama.


awestruck
Auburn Fan
Member since Jan 2015
5171 posts

re: What are your geographic boundaries for the South?
Was in Western Maryland paddling some whitewater, they've got some really good steep, and these locals graciously took me to a restaurant specializing in vegetables which were like pintos, slaw, potato salad, and maybe green beans. I quipped to the waitress that down south this wasn't much for veggies. To which she quipped we're south of the Mason/Dixon.... so I asked her how she liked her okra? Her blank look was ensnared with me replying boiled or fired? We all laughed and I ordered slaw n'pinto beans and left a good southern tip for her humor.

Texas is a country all to itself and maybe even subdivided. Once had to tell some cowboys yelling Yankee, that my truck tag read 'Heart of Dixie' and then we all went for a drink. Although it was touch and go for a small moment.


ExtraSpecial
Tennessee Fan
Music City
Member since Dec 2018
2013 posts

re: What are your geographic boundaries for the South?
quote:

Was in Western Maryland paddling some whitewater, they've got some really good steep, and these locals graciously took me to a restaurant specializing in vegetables ? which were like pintos, slaw, potato salad, and maybe green beans. I quipped to the waitress that down south this wasn't much for veggies. To which she quipped we're south of the Mason/Dixon.... so I asked her how she liked her okra? Her blank look was ensnared with me replying boiled or fired? We all laughed and I ordered slaw n'pinto beans and left a good southern tip for her humor


Interesting! Maybe I should reconsider MD and WV.


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
10
wmr
Arkansas Fan
North of Dickson, South of Herman's
Member since Mar 2009
31146 posts

re: What are your geographic boundaries for the South?
quote:


NW Arkansas is more Midwest/Great Plains then anything else. Its not bad, in fact NW Arkansas is a wonderful place to live, but its not really Southern any more.


I consider Fayetteville and points south to be southern.

I would agree that Benton County is not southern.

Benton County isn't even Arkansas. It has its own corporate aggressive mindset. I don't even like hanging out up there. They have some really good restaurants, but the difference between Rogers/Bentonville and Fayetteville is noticeable. Fayetteville is laid back and normal. Benton County is aggressive and corporate. They hire sharks from all over the country to come there and work, and it shows when you try to hang out in a sports bar or some other place up there. You are more likely to meet someone from Chicago or the upper midwest or east coast than you are to meet someone native to Arkansas.

It's bled thru a little down here, but there's still a big difference, for towns so close to one another...
This post was edited on 11/13 at 12:17 am


wmr
Arkansas Fan
North of Dickson, South of Herman's
Member since Mar 2009
31146 posts

re: What are your geographic boundaries for the South?
Oklahoma is Western/Southwestern. Everything past Tulsa is flat, windy as frick, and dry.

They have fricking mesas in western Oklahoma.


Carl Tuckerson
LSU Fan
The wind-swept plains
Member since Oct 2019
1026 posts

re: What are your geographic boundaries for the South?
Oklahoma is the bastard child of Texas and the Midwest and is in complete denial as to the fact. They genuinely think they're Southern. Bless their hearts.

The more interesting groups are Maryland/Delaware/Virginia. Historically they're Southern, sure, no question. I don't think of DC as being Southern in any realistic sense (it's its own thing but culturally closest to the Northeast), and DC, plus the increasing interconnectedness of the major Northeastern cities generally, have had significant influence on the cultural development of Maryland, Delaware, and NOVA. I think those areas have been drawn into the Northeastern orbit and that by the time I'm an old man yelling at kids for being wrong about what states are Southern, it's plausible that Virginia is a "split" state, with more densely populated coastal areas being Northeastern and the interior being more in line with the Southern tradition.


Arksulli
Arkansas Fan
Fayetteville
Member since Aug 2014
17944 posts
 Online 

re: What are your geographic boundaries for the South?
quote:

. I don't think of DC as being Southern in any realistic sense


Back in the day DC was super Southern. When the federal government expanded like a weed in the 60s that changed almost over night. You had a ton of people from outside the area move in and the culture went through a sea change.

You are very much right about Virginia being a split state. The interior of Virginia is very Southern but NOVA is part of that DC culture.


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
first pageprev pagePage 1 of 3next pagelast page

Back to top

logoFollow SECRant for SEC Football News
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get the latest updates on SEC Football and Recruiting.

FacebookTwitter