There are a ton of great jokes and one-liners out there that ridicule and put down the hillbilly, but I wonder if these same people that put us down have any working knowledge of who we are, or where we come from. I'll take a brief moment to debunk some of the myth that surrounds our culture, and another moment to enlighten readers to who the hillbillies really are:
1. Hillbillies do, in fact, have real teeth - that are their own. Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of mountain folk have teeth. This holds true across the entire spectrum of the hillbilly populace - from West Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama to the far reaches of other hillbillies around the globe. Now, it is true that there is a small sliver of our conglomerate that may have never been introduced to a toothbrush, however, the overwhelming amount of hillbillies do take care of themselves every day.
2. Hillbillies and Rednecks aren't synonymous. There's a huge misconception that has been perpetuated for decades that these two terms are one and the same. The truth is, the term redneck holds a very negative connotation. It has its origins in the Maetwan Incident in the 1920s. A group of miners in southern West Virginia wanted a fair wage that they could use in public stores, better health care and safer working conditions. A huge number of these miners descended on the state capitol of Charleston - rifles in hand - demanding a fare handshake. Of course, the mining company owners weren't happy. They gave the striking miners 24 hours to return to their jobs. When the miners didn't, a posse of pro-company miners and workers marched to Charleston, WV to bring them all back by force. They wore a red bandanna around their necks to distinguish themselves. A massive battled ensued, and hundreds lost their lives.
Hillbillies, on the other hand, are just a simple rugged mountain folk that tend to keep themselves removed from the public. So, the next time you go callin' someone a redneck -- be very careful.
3. Not all hillbillies live in a single wide. Ok, so there is a slice of our members that do live in trailer parks. I can't argue that point. However, if you traveled the highways and byways of not only this great nation, but others around the world, you would come to find that a larger portion of hillbillies live in really nice homes on rather large tracts of land.
4. Not all hillbillies are uneducated buffoons. Again, for some reason, the t.v. crews love to interview the strangest examples of our population when it comes to massive weather-related destruction, or the huge accident on the interstate. By and large, though, most hillbillies are highly educated. Most of us have a college degree, and more still have at least an Associate's degree in one field or another.
5. Hillbillies aren't lazy. In fact, the exact opposite is true. We are a hard-working folk - raised in an unforgiving environment that instills work ethic in us, or we would struggle to survive. Hillbillies work for a living. We take pride in who we are, and where we are from. Most hillbillies can trace their roots back to Scotch-Irish, German, Swiss, or Slavic heritages here in America. We love our families, our land, our music and our food. We welcome friends, and forgive our enemies.
So, the next time that you go into mountain country, take the time to stop into a restaurant or store off the beaten path, and interact with the local culture. You just might be surprised at who and what you discover.