Posted by: Ian – Sep 11, 2009
To some, it is surprising how often the question of weather or not Richmond is in "The South" arises. As the former capital of the confederacy, the last major city where Sweet Tea is widely served (more on this later), many examples of classic southern architecture, and, you know, those forty foot tall statues of confederate generals & Jefferson Davis, I find it hard to believe otherwise.
Still, Richmond's southern status is often contested. I've heard various arguments, most of which don't make much sense, varying from it being too close to the north, people not having enough of an accent, or the simple fact that Virginia is not Georgia. I was raised in North Carolina, so my personal status as Southern is incontestable, save the fact that I spent ten years in Northern Virginia. While VA is not the Deep South, not being a cotton state shouldn't exclude this commonwealth from being considered southern. My usual reply to those who claim that Virginia isn't part of the "proper" south is that those making the claim obviously haven't been to Galax.
All things considered, I do agree that the Mason-Dixon line is no longer an adequate definition of where the south begins. By that definition, Maryland is southern, and that's bullshit. Fortunately, there is a study that attempts to solve the dilemma: The Sweet Tea Line.
From their website:
"The following is a nonscientific investigation into the relationship of Sweet Tea availability and the separation of northern and southern cultures in the United States. An interesting phenomenon exists somewhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The northern and urban areas of the state do not generally offer sweet tea in the most restaurants, where as it is a staple beverage for the southern part of the state. Many clear present-day distinctions exists between the cultures of the north and south, but could the availability of Sweet Tea be a quantitative example?"
Their line of best fit:
the blue dot is Richmond. Here, we see that the "Sweet Tea Line" generally runs North of RVA, but swings down to exclude us.
Which puts Richmond north this new definition of where the south truly begins. The study is based off of McDonalds, and admits that it is non-scientific in nature. However, I still call bullshit. Although I do not patronize McDonalds with any frequency (read: I almost never eat at McDonalds), I do know that they serve sweet tea all over Richmond, as do the majority of restaurants. Perhaps the suburbs are screwing the city out of our deserved demographic?
It's arbitrary, but it's interesting. What do you think, #RVA? Are we southern? Should we care?