If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Voting Texas off the island
In previous columns, I’ve made passing mention at certain states that I don’t think one could realistically consider to be part of “The South.” With the recent news of Texas (and Oklahoma) joining the SEC, it got me thinking… why does this just feel so wrong?
Let’s face it, the SEC isn’t looking to expand westward for the sake of best representing the South in collegiate football. They’re a very successful business with new clients beating down their door. I bet in the next decade we’ll see (insert shudder here) North Carolina on the roster.
So what makes Texas different? First is a matter of war. The South’s identity is rooted in the Civil War and Reconstruction. Meanwhile, Texas is more heavily defined by the Mexican-American War. We don’t have an Alamo to remember – Sherman burnt it down.
That leads us to the cultural influence of race. Texas is of course more heavily defined by the influence of Latin American cultures. Southern identity tends to refer exclusively to Black and White Americans living in the south. Meanwhile the Mexican identity is so intertwined with Texas that there’s a word for it – Tejano, which is a blend of Texan and Chicano. There are more than 7 million Tejanos, while Alabama’s Hispanic population is a bit more than 200,000.
Which of course leads to population. The population of Texas is approximately 29 million by modern day figures, making it the second-most populous state. If you combine the populations of Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, and Louisiana you get about 40 million people.
The larger a state is, the more likely they are to identify by state identity. The smaller a state is, the more likely they are to be a regional identity – Except for Rhode Islanders, but they almost literally don’t even count. Texas also has more urban centers in which to anchor that cultural identity.
Texas is a younger state than the rest of us, as well. Even though Alabama is on the younger end of the statehood spectrum, we are still 25 years older than Texas – also we were all residents of older states Georgia and Mississippi all the way back to the 1810s.
Much like people, the first few decades in which you were forming tends to dominate how your personality develops. Cultural, racial and technological factors were all drastically different between those two time periods.
There are so many other factors to consider in this. Arts, Native American origins, environments, representation in the media… it all gets a little bit repetitive to just say “oh and here’s another thing!” The fact of the matter is there are just too many small differences to arrive at any other conclusion – Texas just isn’t part of the South.
There’s one thing left to be said, though…
Our barbecue is better.