I don’t actually think there is such a word as “regionalism”, but there should be because these stereotypes stink, and are probably counterproductive.
Case in point. I find New Jersey to be very pretty. I admit, I’ve never been to Camden or Newark, which people tell me are scary and dirty (probably like many other cities), but the rest of it is GORGEOUS. It’s green and it’s pastoral. The ocean area seems nice. I do admit that having to pay for beach access is… WRONG. But revenue is revenue. I hear, from friends who live there, that there is a lot of corruption among the politicians. However, I think it’s done to keep out the people from… Philadelphia. That’s racism though, and not the subject of this rant.
Then there’s the south. When we say “south” though, we mean Bible-belt, “southern accent”, Grand Ole Opry, southeast south; not meditative, Native American, DH Lawrence, Georgia O. Keefe, used to be Mexico south. You see, southwest south is GOOD and COOL, and southeast south is BAD and OLD FASIONED. Those would be our “Bible thumpers”, “rednecks”, and “hillbillies.” The place I see this the worst is in any of my gossip rags. Any “country” singer who dresses “country” is on the worst dress list faster than you can blink. When someone starts dressing in couture, suddenly they are accepted and exalted. Really? It’s about the clothes? Damn…
Farmers! Apparently we’re a country OBSESSED with fresh, organic produce, BUT we don’t want to be anywhere near a rural area, and we hate farmers. Or what farming represents (what does farming represent?). We mock people who come from the country as being backward and behind and not sophisticated. They’re rubes, easily duped by us city-folk. When I first moved to California it was assumed that, because I was from Iowa, I lived on a farm. After all, there are NO farms in California. Doesn’t matter that the MIGRANT workers in California are there to PICK FRUITS AND VEGETABLES, or that California is the TOP AGRICULTURAL state in the union or that CALIFORNIA grows at least HALF of the produce consumed in the United States, it is a state of cities. OY! Are you kidding?
Add to that: There are no cities in the Midwest. No minorities live in the Midwest, which is why those test scores tend to be better. All Texans are Republicans who carry guns. All people from New York are from New York City, therefore they are sophisticated. Utah is filled with polygamist Mormons who hate gay people. Really? Really?
Most kids are forced to do a state report at some point in their lives. They regurgitate the normal state bird, mammal, symbol, area, geography, etc. How about we add — what’s really cool about that place? How do most people make their living? Major cities and why they are important? Stereotypes and why they’re right and wrong. Let’s actually have people discuss this when they’re young.
Maybe then they won’t be reading the pages of Us Magazine or People judging someone from Oklahoma based on her dress.