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GAFers who've done a lot of traveling in the US or have lived all over: is "southern hospitality" real or a myth?

DragoonKain

Neighbours from Hell
Curious for those who've lived or visited the south a lot and have lived in other areas if people in the south are noticeably or discernibly nicer than other parts of the US. I've really been taking an interest in southern culture lately. Admittedly, for many years of my life I had an ignorant opinion about the south. But I've long since changed my opinion on it, and feel ashamed I had negative views on the south. And even more so, I've been very interested in it lately.

I've had people tell me southern hospitality is absolutely real. That they've never been treated nicer than when they've been in the south. And I've also had people tell me those experiences are anecdotal and people are people. They are no nicer or meaner no matter where you go, it just is the luck of the draw in the people you come across.

Where does GAF stand on this?
 

GeekyDad

Member
My family is a mix of Italian and Jewish, and we moved from Long Island, NY down to Miami, FL (which isn't what you're referring to when you say "south") when I was very young. But when I was about 15, we settled in Georgia. Been here ever since. So, that's, like, let's see...about 36 years. My experience: they're just people. Just like anywhere else, you've got hip people, racist people, proud people, confused people. They're just people. Or I should probably say, we're just people, since at this point I've spent most of my life here. But your younger years are your developing years, so I still feel like a northerner.
 

EviLore

Expansive Ellipses
Staff Member
 

Lasha

Member
Southern hospitality is real if heavily romanticised. You won't experience it in the big cities like Atlanta as much as you will in the rural areas. People are generally more polite and will try to be helpful when they see a traveller in need. The south is a big place though. Southern hospitality people dream about is the eastern part of the south. Things get wild once you get into places like Mississippi and Alabama. Still mostly polite but it feels like time travel at times.
 

BadBurger

Is 'That Pure Potato'
I'm from the southern US. I lived or stayed for significant times in several states throughout the south from ages 1 to about 21. I also lived in New York City briefly (Brooklyn), and have traveled to and throughout California and Washington state many times. Oh, I also spent a summer in rural Wyoming.

Overall, people in the south just outside of the big cities are friendlier than they are most elsewhere, but it's nothing like in the romanticized stories. And while there's nice enclaves of immigrant communities that are pretty much completely assimilated into their communities across the span of a few generations, like the Vietnamese in parts of Georgia and Louisiana, or Filipinos and Indians in Virginia and DC, there is a ton of naked and passive aggression towards people of color, muslims, jews, and oddly enough even Catholics, in the deep south. Like in Alabama. I am talking politicians who still openly run on campaigns that sound like they're straight out of the 1930's or 40's. The police also tend to be extremely xenophobic towards anyone they perceive as northerners - I found this to be most egregious throughout central / rural Florida, not noticeable in the metros.

So I guess the overall answer is no?
 

Thaedolus

Gold Member
Some of the nicest people I’ve ever met were from the south, and generally people there are more polite…to your face.

Also some of the worst scumbags I’ve ever run into came from the same area.

So I’m guessing at the end of the day, it’s pretty much a wash and the difference is a culture of politeness which leads to passive aggressive behavior rather than just outright saying what you’re feeling like an east coaster or something. Southern cooking, though….mmmm
 

KrakenIPA

Member
I lived in Georgia for a spell (at Ft. Benning, in the military), and most locals I met were very conservative and friendly. That was years ago of course, but I can say, if "Southern Hospitality" is a myth, "Southern Charm" is not such a thing. I miss Georgia everyday, to be sure.
 

Smiggs

Member
Southern hospitality is real, in so far as people down South will treat strangers better than their family.

People up North are typically more frank, but A LOT more transparent.

Knowledge comes from 20 years in Pennsylvania and a decade in Louisiana.
I live in the upper midwest, and you're exactly right. People here are less likely to put on a facade and kiss your ass if they don't like or trust you--they'll just let you know up front. And honestly, I prefer that to someone acting all friendly, then talking shit about me as soon as I walk away.

And I'm not saying you should be rude or act like an entitled prick to strangers, I think you should always reciprocate kindness/respect. But don't blow smoke up someone's ass.
 

Kev Kev

Gold Member
Grown up in the south all my life and it’s fine, probably about the same as most other areas. You may encounter some friendlier people, especially in smaller towns, but it’s nothing remarkable like that in my experience.

And the notion of there being more racists and homophobes in the south is over blown. There is a minority of shitty people where ever you go. The south may have slightly more, but it’s not like you see in the movies and on TV. That’s quite an unfair stereotype.
 
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KrakenIPA

Member
Grown up in the south all my life and it’s fine, probably about the same as most other areas. You may encounter some friendlier people, especially in smaller towns, but it’s nothing remarkable like that in my experience.

And the notion of there being more racists and homophobes in the south is over blown. There is a minority of shitty people where ever you go. The south may have slightly more, but it’s not like you see in the movies and on TV. That’s quite an unfair stereotype.
It's so strange how the American South gets overblown like that! Most folks that I met down there, either military or not, were pretty cool. When I was in basic training like 20 years ago most of the the guys fron the Northeast had beef with guys from the Northeast. Life us crazy.
 

Grildon Tundy

Gold Member
I think it's less of a Southern vs Northern difference and more of a rural vs urban difference, in my experience.

In small towns, you have to get along with everyone because everyone knows everyone and you don't want that bad juju coming back to you.

In cities, who gives a crap--piss someone off, there are a million more where they came from
 

KrakenIPA

Member
I think it's less of a Southern vs Northern difference and more of a rural vs urban difference, in my experience.

In small towns, you have to get along with everyone because everyone knows everyone and you don't want that bad juju coming back to you.

In cities, who gives a crap--piss someone off, there are a million more where they came from
I never want to piss someone off so i usually over-correct and end up pissing someone off (it's usually a hot gal)
 

Lunarorbit

Member
Southern hospitality is real, in so far as people down South will treat strangers better than their family.

People up North are typically more frank, but A LOT more transparent.

Knowledge comes from 20 years in Pennsylvania and a decade in Louisiana.

Some of the nicest people I’ve ever met were from the south, and generally people there are more polite…to your face.

Also some of the worst scumbags I’ve ever run into came from the same area.

So I’m guessing at the end of the day, it’s pretty much a wash and the difference is a culture of politeness which leads to passive aggressive behavior rather than just outright saying what you’re feeling like an east coaster or something. Southern cooking, though….mmmm
I'm from Massachusetts but lived in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas for years. When people don't know you in the northeast or NY they are more guarded in their interactions with strangers. People are more frank and that's off-putting to southerns sometimes.

Southern hospitality is greatly overstated. More smiles and friendliness when greeting people in Louisiana and Mississippi (not Texas though) and they generally will talk to strangers with better manners than Northerns. But that's really the extent of it.

There's more emphasis on community especially with Christian churchs so big down there. But again there is a caviat; LOTS of fakeness down south, lots of shit talk behind people's backs, passive aggressiveness to the max. Lots of fake Christians who don't really love their neighbors but hide behind smiles to conceal bigotry, misogyny, and all the other big phobias.
 

Lady Jane

Banned
It is real. I was born and raised in New Orleans and I never considered southern hospitality real until I visited the West and East coast. Strangers are an asshole to others by default there.

And as for the racism claims, I've always seen that everywhere in the US, not just the South. I blame Hollywood and their hate boner for southern culture for spreading that messaging. I've seen it in Michigan, New York, and Oregon. Racism is 100% is just as prevalent there but the South are usually the butt of those jokes.
 
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DadEggs

Member
southern hospitality is definitely a real thing......but so are confederate flags

lived 32 years in nj & nyc
lived 4 years in atlanta
been with my wife (from atlanta) for 16 of those 36 years.
 
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I lived in rural Florida my entire life before getting my CDL, and met far more blatantly racist assholes in the north east in less than a year than I did almost 30 years in the south. I only met one person in Philly who wasn't a miserable, hateful cunt, and that was a security guard born and raised in Jamaica.

Anyway, Southern Hospitality is real, but over exaggerated. We'll also talk serious shit about people with friendly language. "Bless his/her heart," can either be an endearment, or it can mean, "That is one of the stupidest motherfuckers I've ever seen in my life."
 

Billbofet

Member
I have always had a pretty great experience in southern states while traveling, but I've never lived in any of those areas.
I'm from and still live in the Midwest (Wisconsin) and find that Midwesterners are also extremely friendly - with the exception of the Chicago area - fuck those people - Just kidding....kinda
 

belmarduk

Member
From my experience (and I've had a lot of it) Southerners tend to look down on other parts of the US. Go ahead, ask them about California or New York or Massachusetts.
 

Lady Jane

Banned
I lived in rural Florida my entire life before getting my CDL, and met far more blatantly racist assholes in the north east in less than a year than I did almost 30 years in the south. I only met one person in Philly who wasn't a miserable, hateful cunt, and that was a security guard born and raised in Jamaica.

Anyway, Southern Hospitality is real, but over exaggerated. We'll also talk serious shit about people with friendly language. "Bless his/her heart," can either be an endearment, or it can mean, "That is one of the stupidest motherfuckers I've ever seen in my life."

"Bless your heart" is the deepest Southern insult that exists.
 

AJUMP23

Gold Member
Sure, if you're skin is light enough.
There is hospitality regardless of skin skin color. Racism does Occur but I don’t associate with it and have never been any place in the south where a person was treated poorly due to skin color.

I have been the only white guy in a black church and called out by the preacher and thanked for coming during his message. That is hospitality.
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
Been to North Carolina and Dallas. Some business, some for personal fun. Just randomly checking out places to eat.

Even though it was only a handful of times, I'd say Real.

The people working at stores and restaurants were all super nice. There's something about the accent, mannerisms, and way they acknowledge you that is so different and friendly.
 

NickFire

Member
In my personal experience, the people down south are much friendlier towards strangers than up north. It's like night and day. You go from little eye contact and everyone in a race to be somewhere, to needing like 5-10 minutes to go into a store cause the greeters want to show pictures of their grandkids.
 

GeekyDad

Member
I disagree. Plenty of hospitality is granted in the south to all races.
My wife is Korean, though raised in South Carolina -- she lost her Korean accent when she was young. Some folks (including my location boss) won't even acknowledge her. To her, it seems obvious when ethnicity is involved. I can't really speak to it because I can't see it from her perspective. But there are scumbags in each corner of this globe I've come across, and great folks too -- all colors, creeds, etc.
 
I've experienced it yes, but it's not a simple question. The picture of the "racist south" is more of a myth. There are a lot of backwards places, but communities like that exist all over the country. However, the south is the "default" setting for racism in movies and TV and its racism is always covered in the news. It's also acceptable because the south gets all the blame for slavery.

There are historical and modern complexities to the region but it mostly gets a shallow portrayal. It's important to note that the south accounts for 38% of the US population, yet 42% of all Americans living under the poverty line. When people talk shit broadly about the south, they're shitting on a region that houses our most vulnerable citizens. Most people justify it by saying the south is racist so who cares, which also ignores the fact that the region holds 60% of the entire U.S. black population.
 

Blade2.0

Member
They are artificially hospitable (unless a minority, but even then they might be nice to your face). More out of obligation than because they'd like to do it. I liken it similarly to Japanese hospitality. Sure they're bowing and using pleasant words with you, but that doesn't mean that's how they feel inwardly. Or another example is how you might be outwardly friendly to a customer, but actually think they're a moron on the inside.

EDIT: Historically the south is the most racist. Jim Crow laws were from southern states and so were sundown towns. Not to try and say the other parts of America don't have their racist problems, but the South gets a bad rap for it for a very real and good reason.
 
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The most racist place I ever lived was Bay Area, California. The nicest and most respectful, is South Carolina. Southern Hospitality is real.

As it stands, I'd gladly let the stereotype of "much racist south" go on if it means people stop moving here from the west.
 
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Ownage

Member
It's less real than it used to be. You'll see it in smaller southern towns if you're of the same heritage as the locals, or, after a period of time when they get to know you. In larger southern cities, due to lower living costs more folks from all over have migrated south, so you'll see whatever attitudes they bring to their new home.

I very much agree with the poster above that the left coast, California to British Columbia, is WAY WAY more racist than the east coast these days. Somehow left coast liberals are taking the passive aggressive prize for racism and bigoted behavior. Exceptions being the fuzz in various big cities anywhere.
 
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I’ve lived in California my whole life

can confirm everyone is an asshole. currently in LA where people are exceptionally terrible. I don’t really mind it though.

my ex had family in Texas. people were very nice whenever I’d visit.
 

Blade2.0

Member
The most racist place I ever lived was Bay Area, California. The nicest and most respectful, is South Carolina. Southern Hospitality is real.

As it stands, I'd gladly let the stereotype of "much racist south" go on if it means people stop moving here from the west.
I would say every big city's police force is about the same when it comes to racism (a lot) but the most racist average citizens are still from the South. The KKK is still here and when you hear about, say, two shithead rednecks running and gunning down a black man (the death of Ahmaud Arbery) it's the south. Again, average citizens. Cops are racist and do deplorable shit everywhere.
 

poppabk

Member
Southern hospitality is real if heavily romanticised. You won't experience it in the big cities like Atlanta as much as you will in the rural areas. People are generally more polite and will try to be helpful when they see a traveller in need. The south is a big place though. Southern hospitality people dream about is the eastern part of the south. Things get wild once you get into places like Mississippi and Alabama. Still mostly polite but it feels like time travel at times.
I was visiting Atlanta and walking around downtown and a lady on the street said 'good morning' to me. I was honestly shocked.
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
When I was in North Carolina (or perhaps driving in or out state near it), some buddies and I stopped off a rest stop.

I totally understand soft drinks can also be called pop or soda depending where you live.

A old lady who was super nice served us. And it was the first time I ever heard someone call them "sodies".
 
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Ownage

Member
Being polite goes a long way towards making friends and allies anywhere. This is universal, whether in Jeddah or Paris or Shanghai or Washington DC.

Same goes if you're a prick. You suck.
 
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