I tend to self-identify with those “elite snobs” much more than I self-identify with the term “hillbilly.” I’m a blue state girl who happens to live in a red state. I should know better than anyone that not everyone who lives in flyover country is a rube. Furthermore, intolerant morons exist everywhere not solely in the Bible Belt.
I’ve become really sensitive about the whole thing. I’m a little hurt when people speak disparagingly about this part of the country, and irritated when they use sweeping generalizations to describe its population. I almost cried when someone recently commented on my “twang” (which I didn’t even know I had), and was embarrassed to speak for days afterward, for fear of sounding ignorant. I remember all the times I’ve gone out of my way to prove to some out-of-state friend or relative that I’m nothing like the Red State Stereotype existing in their minds. And then, like always, I become embarrassed that I’m embarrassed. I shouldn’t care. I know that. But I do.
There’s only one thing that can put a stereotype out of its misery: the counterexample. Nothing silences “They all do that” faster than someone who doesn’t do that. We don’t have a lot of blue-state girls? Be a blue-state girl. And be unapologetic about it. There’s a strong populist streak here, and always has been. (Two words: “Woody Guthrie.”) And if someone from distant Stuffy Heights says “You’re from Oklahoma? I never would have guessed,” you’ve done your part. Next time he’ll think twice before spouting off like, um, an intolerant moron.
One more thing: don’t worry about the “twang.” We were not put on this earth to sound like network-news correspondents.
And now, back to your regularly-scheduled reindeer games.