Should I be Proud to be a Redneck?

What does it really mean to be a redneck, and why in the world would I claim any association with the label? After all, I graduated (twice) from the University of North Carolina, I'm a "professoinal career woman", and I hardly live in the country.

To be honest, I really didn't think of myself or anyone I knew as a redneck while I was growing up. It was after I left home for college that I first remember my youngest sister referring to her boyfriend at the time as a redneck.

They loved NASCAR, and four wheeling, and he had a confederate flag bandana hanging around the rear view mirror of his pickup truck.

I remember discussions about the significance of the confederate flag with my college friends. Back then, I tended to defend some of my home town buddies who owned and displayed various confederate memorabilia, because I believed they did so from a spirit of "Southernness" that had nothing to do (at least in their minds) with racism.

I grew up in eastern North Carolina, tobacco country. I thought the only way race related to "redneck" was a farmer's tan....or sunburn, to be more exact. I was pretty confused about racial issues in my youth.

I had the hardest time learning the concepts of "minority" and "majority" because I'd heard African Americans referred to as a "minority", but my school had fewer whites than blacks. And I'm not saying I was never exposed to any prejudice attitudes and practices - I certainly was! But I was more exposed, fortunately, to friends and family who didn't believe it should matter what color anyone's skin happened to be.

After I met my second husband, I also became a NASCAR fan, and let's face it, NASCAR fans are PROUD to be rednecks. We dubbed our nupitals a "redneck wedding", complete with blue jeans, a pig pickin', and a keg of beer.

One of my Chapel Hill friends told me afterwards that she was "shocked" I had called it a "redneck wedding". She thought my African American friends would be offended. I really hope they were not, and I'm glad at least some of them came to the wedding!

Because "redneck" does seem to have racial connotations for some folks, and because I certainly do not consider myself racist even though I enjoy writing around redneck themes, I thought I'd better explain a bit more what it means to me to be a redneck.

According to Wikipedia, a "redneck" is stereotypically white and poor. Well, I'm white, and I'm not rich, but I don't actually fit many of the Jeff Foxworthy "ifs".

We don't have cars without tires in our yard. Yes, we have a beer 'frig in the garage, but no sofa on the front porch. My husband has a short hair cut, and I don't own any Daisy Dukes. (I admit I have one tube top, but I don't wear it in public....except in 100 degree heat at the Preddyfest Bluegrass Festival.)

The etymology discussed at Wikipedia might actually give me an authentic claim to "redneck" heritage.

When "Covenanters" rejected the Church of England and signed documents supporting the Presbyterian Church, many signed in blood, and wore red cloth around their neck to publicly declare their position. They were called rednecks. Since many Presbyterian Scots-Irish and Scottish Americans settled in the South and Appalachia, the term redneck settled there, too.

Another possible source of the term redneck were the West Virginia coal miners who wore red bandannas around their necks to signify they sought unionizing.

I grew up Presbyterian, my family tree on my mother's side can be traced to Scotland, my dad's family is from West Virginia, and my dad used to be very active in the Union. Okay, he worked for a paper mill, not in a coal mine, but you have to admit, those are some pretty cool (and respectable!) coincidences.

And according to Natural News, "In America, the term 'redneck' actually comes from a vitamin B deficiency that causes heightened susceptibility to sunburns." I like the other explanations much better, but I have to admit, I tend to burn easily.

What does being a redneck really mean to me? Simply, I'm a redneck when I let my hair down. Yes, rednecks are typically Southern, but being a redneck doesn't make me racist any more than being Southern does.

Rednecks in my neck of the woods are beer-drinking, NASCAR-watching, pig-cooking, bluegrass foot-stomping, country music singing, and rock-n-roll blaring friends and family getting together and having a good 'ole time!

Hell Yeah!


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raiderfan profile image

raiderfan 7 years ago from Arizona

Hell Yeah! Rednecks know how to drink beer!

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

That we do, raiderfan!

fortunerep profile image

fortunerep 7 years ago from North Carolina

As a fellow North Carolina resident. I have been called a redneck more than once by my wonderful boss man's family in DC., even his staff at home, the maid called ME a redneck? I say the same that I always say, "been called worse by better people".


Janetta 7 years ago

You should absolutely be proud of being a redneck! I've embraced my should too. Yeah, my dad and good majority of family worked/works in the coal mines, my dad refuses to part with any car he has ever owned, we drink beer and sweet tea like its going out of style and it's pretty common to hear shotgun blasts in the middle of town every now and then. So see--you're not alone and, yes, be proud :) Redneck is a state of mind afterall ;)

DonnaCSmith profile image

DonnaCSmith 7 years ago from Central North Carolina

Well, I guess I can claim being a redneck via my Southern/Scotish/Presbyterian heritage. And I enjoy all those things like music and pork, just not the beer so much. I'd rather have a glass of wine, or really iced tea!

I remember as a kid asking Mama what the term meant. She and Daddy said it was what Army folk called Marines, something about sunburn on their necks because of the short haircuts. I don't know why that would be any different from other military branches, though.

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks, all - glad to know I'm in such good company :-)

Triplet Mom profile image

Triplet Mom 7 years ago from West Coast

Dineane - I think if you are able to take ownership of who you are then thats great! Sometimes words take on a life of their own. Your redneck wedding sounds absolutely fun.

DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

dineane, thanks for sharing your thoughts and informing about the term 'redneck" I have heard the sterotype and the jokes by Foxworthy, but you have informed on a deeper level; providing the origin of the term.

Dam you sound pretty ordinary to NASCAR, pork, partying...things I like and my neck will NOT be sunburned, even with short hair...

Thanks for sharing...

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

TM & DynamicS, thanks for reading & your support!

babedoll50 profile image

babedoll50 7 years ago from Alberta

lol, my hubbie and I are from Alberta Canada and trust me there are places here that are definately considered redneck territory. Hubbie always says hes proud to be a redneck. great hub

flread45 profile image

flread45 7 years ago from Montana

It doesn't matter what you are as long as you are a human being.

Ivorwen profile image

Ivorwen 7 years ago from Hither and Yonder

I don't claim to be a redneck, but maybe I should give my kids more Vitamin B, anyway, I love the rural way of life and the do-it-yourself attitude that comes with it.

I love the history in this. I never thought to look up the origins of the term.

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

thanks for chekcing it out, Ivorwen! I never really thought about it either until I realized my "redneck" hubs were getting lots of views! More to come!

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