Stereotypes About Kentucky Residents

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Stereotypes in Kentucky

Kentucky, having a per capita income of $31,111, is currently ranked 46th in the nation in regard to income and income growth (Davis). This leaves only South Carolina, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Mississippi faring worse. This statistic just gives Kentucky people another stereotypical label.

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The stereotypical view on Kentucky residents is generally that they are poor, redneck, and unsuccessful. Of course there are some people like that in Kentucky, but that does not mean the majority of people who live in Kentucky are that way. Those stereotypes cause some of the people in the rural areas of Kentucky to represent the state as a whole. This is inaccurate because not even all people in the rural areas are like that, but there is even a higher population total in the urban areas of Kentucky. (Davis) The stereotypes about all the residents of Kentucky simply are not true because Kentucky has a wide range of diversity among its people, the misunderstood cultures and traditions of some of the Kentucky people are respectable and make them unique, and there are many opportunities in Kentucky to make a living with a high quality of life.

Stereotypes about Kentucky people are inaccurate because Kentucky has a wide range of diversity among the population. This is more prevalent in the urban areas of higher populations such as Lexington, Kentucky. In areas like this, there are not many people at all who fall under the Kentucky stereotypes. In these areas, the people more commonly have high-paying jobs and are proper, showing no sign at all of the most common Kentucky stereotypes. Even from the more rural areas with lower populations, there is a wide range of diversity. Not only is there a wide diversity in the lifestyles of Kentucky people but also there is a wide range of different races of people who live in Kentucky. Across Kentucky there are numerous African Americans, Chinese, Mexicans, Indians, etc. All of these different races are found moving up with their educations, forming and owning businesses, and just improving themselves as well as their own qualities of life. One example of this would be the amount of Mexican families owning highly successful, high-end Mexican restaurants across Kentucky. This is far from the white redneck stereotype that the entire Kentucky population is labeled under. Besides, the stereotype of all Kentucky residents living in small towns is proven false through the fact that Louisville, Kentucky is actually rank 29 on the list of biggest cities in the United States (Shultz). There are many other reasons that the Kentucky stereotypes are false, one of which lies within the culture of Kentucky residents.

The commonly misunderstood cultures and traditions of the stereotypical Kentucky resident are actually respectable. It is a common Kentucky stereotype that someone who lives in Kentucky and hunts, fishes, rides horses, and drives tractors is just an uneducated redneck. What is so bad about being labeled a redneck anyway? The activities that label you a redneck by stereotype are family traditions and pastimes dating back to the lives of Kentucky residents’ ancestors. Kentucky pastimes such as hunting and fishing teach Kentucky children growing up a respect for life through hunting by the law and for food, rather than promoting the killing of animals for no reason as some stereotypes may portray. Fishing does this the same way because you can only keep certain fish to keep from hurting the populations of fish. This teaches Kentucky children growing up around these traditions to be ethical and respectful for life early on which are very valuable traits for a U.S. citizen anywhere. They want to be seen as people who are hard working and reliable, who care deeply about their place, their communities and their families, who are committed to morals and doing the right thing, and who are working hard every day to provide for their families “ just like so many other American families across the country (Brashear).

Another common family tradition of Kentucky residents is horse riding. This is not an activity that should label someone negatively. This is yet another activity that allows its participants to enjoy nature and get their minds off of all the stresses in this day and time. As far as tractor driving and agricultural activities, farming plays a major role in the modern economy. A few examples of some of the top agricultural commodities in Kentucky are cattle, poultry, and eggs. Grocery stores and restaurants have to get their goods from somewhere. Just because residents of Kentucky partake in activities such as these proves nothing negative about who they are or about their intelligence. This also says nothing about what they may make out of their lives. There are plenty of opportunities to make a high quality living in Kentucky.

Images of Appalachians as stereotypes have circulated in American visual culture for over two centuries, (Massey). The common stereotype of Kentucky people being poor is not true for all because there are actually a high number of job opportunities across the state. One of the most common stereotypes of Kentucky residents is that they are uneducated which is ironic because of how many Kentucky students succeed to a high level of education and earn so many awards throughout their path through school. This also goes for the teachers that are the gateway for these students to make their dreams come true. Kentucky doesn’t even get recognized for its metropolitan areas by stereotypes, but in those areas there are even more job opportunities and highly respected colleges such as the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.

The common Kentucky stereotypes are false for various reasons. The variety of people across Kentucky shows that there are a lot of differences among Kentucky people. This alone keeps Kentucky residents from being classified in the same category. They have different incomes and live in different areas whether they may be rural or urban, and whether they may be highly populated or of a low population count. Kentucky residents also have numerous respectable family traditions. These include various activities but they all teach positive outlooks on life and have good ethical teachings as well. Kentucky residents also have many opportunities throughout Kentucky, which proves all the stereotypes wrong about how people who live in Kentucky are poor and/or without jobs. All of these reasons prove how the stereotypes of Kentucky people have no real facts or true meaning behind them.

Works Cited

  1. Brashear, Ivy E. RURAL REALITY: HOW REALITY TELEVISION PORTRAYALS OF APPALACHIAN PEOPLE IMPACT THEIR VIEW OF THEIR CULTURE. 2016. University of Kentucky, PhD Dissertation. Accessed 2016.
  2. Davis, Alison F. “Kentucky’s Urban/Rural Landscape: What is driving the differences in wealth across Kentucky.” Kentucky Annual Economic Report (2009): 25-34.
  3. Massey, Carissa. “Appalachian stereotypes: Cultural history, gender, and sexual rhetoric.” Journal of Appalachian Studies (2007): 124-136.
  4. Schultz, Hannah E. “Taking Down Kentucky Stereotypes (Or: Things Kingsman Got Wrong About Real Kentuckians).” Hannah Elise Schultz, 9 Oct. 2017, www.hannaheliseschultz.com/blog/taking-down-kentucky-stereotypes-or-how-to-make-a-real-kentuckian-angry.

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