‘American’ is not an all-inclusive label. The country is almost 10 million square kilometers in size, Depending on the part of America you’re in, and the faith, education and other aspects of its residents, the Americans you’ll meet will be very different from each other.
The temptation to put people into categories can be very strong. While certain categories do exist, and you will obviously notice them, it is important that you do not place people into a box. Forming such cultural stereotypes is very offensive and ignorant.
To understand these categories of Americans without stereotyping them, read this article until the end.
The image of Southerners is in contrast with Northerners. They are often thought of as two ends of a spectrum. The life of Southerners is believed to embody rural values, giving rise to beliefs that prioritize family and tradition over development and education. This stereotype exists because farming is a common way to make a living in the South.
In contrast, Northerners are thought to lead a materialistic life driven by capitalism. They’re believed to be more invested in progress.
Southerners, overall, can be considered more devout in their Christian beliefs than Northerners. This is reflected in the numerous churches you will find throughout the South.
The Southern states also tend to be more politically conservative. Although there are people who vote Democrat, many are right-leaning.
Of course, this is a generalization. You can absolutely find residents of all faiths, cultures, backgrounds, and political opinions in the South; especially in larger cities.
As compared to the relaxed and kind image of Southerners, Northerners, particularly those who live in the highly populated northeastern United States, are viewed by most Americans as rushed individuals driven by wealth.
You will even hear people refer to them as the ‘Yanks’ or ‘Yankees.’ Mostly, Southerners use these terms stemming from their rivalry during the Civil War. These days, the term is primarily used as endearment.
Northerners have been given this image of being fast-moving and self-centered people. A big contributor to this image is New Yorkers and the way they walk. Yes, New Yorkers walk at a fast pace, but they do not knock people down to get there.
This image only exists because life in North America is generally driven by competitive jobs. Most of these people are just trying to survive in a competitive environment with a high cost of living.
Midwesterners reside between the Northeastern United States and the Western United States, with Canada to the north and the Southern United States to the south.
Most people associate the image of the Midwest with just cornfields and agriculture. Don’t buy into this false image. The place has plenty of exciting attractions you can visit, and is also home to Chicago.
Many Midwesterners that you meet will draw out their “a’s” when they speak, but they don’t have a distinct accent. The region also has a diverse mix of people.
If you’re having trouble making friends, you should approach a Midwesterner. People here are especially famous for being friendly and eager to help out.
Your friends from the Midwest might spend a lot of time calling their families. That is because families are very important in the Midwest. In fact, according to a 2008 Pew survey and analysis of U.S. Census data, about half of adult Midwestern residents have spent their entire lives in their hometowns.
When you think of Hawaii, you might imagine a relaxing life in grass huts on tropical islands. But, Hawaiians are much more than their beaches, and no, they don’t live in grass huts.
Locals don’t even wear such attire at luaus. The image that the media sells to you is filled with stereotypes.
Don’t wear cheap clothes that vaguely imitate items traditionally worn on the islands, like grass skirts made of plastic. This is incredibly offensive to their culture.
Don’t mistake people who live in Hawaii for Hawaiians. Hawaii is a huge melting pot of cultures, with people coming from around the world to live here. To be considered a Hawaiian, a person should be of native Hawaiian ethnicity.
Outdoorsy New Englanders
If someone you meet talks about how their entire childhood basically was hiking, kayaking, camping, or skiing, they might just be from New England. People here just love the outdoors, and who can blame them? They have the most beautiful autumns you’ll ever see, winters covered with snow, and springs filled with tulips.
With each season, there’s a new sport. New Englanders really pride themselves in their sports teams. So, if you’re looking for a conversation starter, sports is your way to go.
The Amish are known for their simple lives, plain clothing, and rejection of many of the conveniences of modern technology. They value rural life, manual labor, and humility.
The United States is the home to the overwhelming majority (98.29%) of Amish people in the world.
Many people believe that the Amish think technology is evil, but this is not the case. They only limit their own use of technology because they feel it helps preserve church, family, and community. They also adopt or adapt new technologies over time.
People around you may believe that the Amish don’t pay taxes. But, they pay all the taxes just as other Americans, except Social Security. This is because they don’t receive the perks of Social Security. So, the next time someone tells you that the Amish are not American because they don’t pay taxes, ask them to fact check.
You will most likely not come across Amish people in your day-to-day life, because their interaction outside their community is very limited. Amish children typically only attend school through 8th grade, mostly at private schools.
Recognize that there is diversity among the Amish too. There are four main groups, with many subgroups and different rules within these categories.
Amish people are not kept in their community against their will. Their ways may be hard to grasp for you, but their lifestyle is their choice.
Remember That There are Always Exceptions
Chances are, there are people in the city or region of the country you’re from who are different than the typical person. They might not have the same religious, social, or political views as most people you know. The same can be said for Americans. Therefore, it’s best to identify generalizations for what they are. Do not assume a person believes or acts a certain way just because of how they dress, or the part of the U.S. they’re in. The world is full of individuals with their own priorities and viewpoints. The only way to learn them is to respectfully ask the person, rather than making an assumption.
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