Blog: Are we in the Midwest or the South? (07/23/22)

I’m really curious, readers: do you consider southeast Missouri part of the Midwest or the South?

I’m from Illinois and my first introductions to Southern life were visiting family in the Carolinas and at the University of Tennessee. When I moved to southeast Missouri I was struck by several southern traits that you all have, but there is no consensus on whether we are far enough south to be South.

I have several criteria to determine if a region is southern. First, the weather — yes, it’s hot. And humid. The Breeze lately works on the same principle as an air fryer, but at least that means I’m cooking evenly.

Speaking of which, the food is another clue. Namely, are there strong opinions about barbecue and is all tea supposed to be sweet? It’s fifty-fifty, because barbecue is definitely its own food group here, but no server gave me a dirty look for asking for unsweetened tea (looking at you, Tennessee). There’s also a big regional devotion to fried catfish, but it’s more country than Southern.

Speaking of which: everyone loves country music here. Is this another point for the South?

Of course, the most obvious issue is the Civil War. Missouri was not Confederate. It was a border state: a slave state that did not secede from the Union. It provided more troops to the north than to the south, but Bloomfield was a Confederate stronghold early in the war and changed hands several times.

Considering the entire state yields mixed results, but the Southeast region at least feels like it could bid for South-hood. Geographically, we’re just a hop, skip, and a hop above Arkansas, and on par with Tennessee and Kentucky. Certainly, all their southernness does not cut off abruptly at the border.

Clay soil? Check. mockers? Yeah. Spiders and poisonous snakes? Everywhere. But hey, these beautiful magnolias make up for that. And what are they still called? Oh, yeah – Southern magnolias.

Finally, this quintessential test of southernness: the word “y’all”. You all pass this test.

Are we then from the South? I’d say it’s pretty close for government work. What do you think?

Samantha Tucker is a staff writer at the Daily American Republic. She can be contacted at [email protected]