Friday, December 18, 2009

Caveat Lectores on Rednecks

According to Wikipedia: “Redneck is a disparaging term that refers to a person who is stereotypically Caucasian and of lower social-economic status in the United States 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.”

That definition generally follows my understanding of the term. When growing up in Kannapolis, North Carolina, we pretty much equated redneck with farmers who toiled in the sun and got rednecks and a “farmer’s tan.” We did not necessarily equate it with the “poor white trash” definition that has evolved, but my personal goal was to avoid being a redneck. Only upon moving to Florida did I encounter people who claimed to be rednecks and were proud of their limited knowledge or acceptance of things otherwise civilized.

Many of the people I know who claim “redneckdom“ are also very politically and socially conservative and sometimes are very right-wing republican in their viewpoints. While I have never fully understood how a working man or woman could be an anti-union republican, it happens with great frequency.

Recently, I learned a factoid that defies common thinking on rednecks.

It seems the term “redneck” is really a labor union term for a group of West Virginia coal miners who in 1921 participated in the Battle of Blair Mountain when coal miners wore red bandanas around their necks to identify themselves as loyal union men battling the mine owners for the right to unionize.

For more interesting information on this, Google “Battle of Blair Mountain.” Private detectives, state and local law enforcement and federal troops were called in to beat down the coal miners.

The Battle of Blair Mountain is alleged to be the largest incidence of union warfare in the United States. This is thought to be a major catalyst for what is now known as the National Labor Relations Act. If you have never seen the movie Matawan, it is worth a look.

Anyway, maybe I am a redneck and can be proud of it.

And Oh yes, have a nice day?


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