Exactly is a Redneck?
What is a redneck, anyway? The term has been used to describe different groups in different time periods.
In the mid-seventeenth century,
residents of Scotland known as "Covenanters" who rejected the Church of England in favor of Presbyterianism, often wore red
cloths around their necks to show their support for the movement. They were known as rednecks.
Many of the Scots and Scots-Irish
who settled in Appalachia and rural areas of the southern United States were also referred to as rednecks, perhaps because
many of them were Presbyterians, or it could be because they had their skin burned red by the sun, which was apparently most
noticeable on the back of their necks.
Neither of these is to be confused
with the South African term "Rooineck" (redneck), used by settlers of Dutch descent as a derogative term for the British,
because of the way the sun burned the skin on the back of their necks, which were not accustomed to the harsh African sun.
The term has also been used in
the Midwest and western United
States to describe Irish Catholics. Apparently it was difficult for some to tell the difference between the Scots
and the Irish.
The official description from
Wikipedia is …"a person who is stereotypically Caucasian and of lower socio-economic status in the USA and Canada,
particularly referring to those living in rural areas. Originally limited to the Southern United States and then to Appalachia,
the term has become widely used throughout North America."
The American Heritage Dictionary
of Cultural Literacy says it is "…a slang term, usually for a rural white southerner who is politically conservative,
racist, and a religious fundamentalist. This term is generally considered offensive. It originated in reference to agricultural
workers, alluding to how the back of a person's neck will be burned by the sun if he works long hours in the fields."
Today the term redneck is often
used by city dwellers to scoff at their rural counterparts.
Rednecks themselves view the
term with a certain amount of smugness, in that it indicates a counterculture of members who are not afraid to buck current
trends, and openly thumb their noses to political correctness and its subterfuge of double standards. Rednecks like trucks,
beer, NASCAR, country music, the second amendment, shooting, fishing, hunting, wrestling, are staunchly patriotic, and are
proud of their uninhibited lack of sophistication.
Comedian Jeff Foxworthy, with
his "You might be a Redneck If…" humor has changed the connotation of the term almost to one of endearment, and has
illustrated that there is really no clear definition or dividing line.
Y'all know who you are.