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This month’s editor’s note was not written by Steve Fennessy.
“How Southern are we?” was the question posed on the cover of our November 2012 special issue on Atlanta’s Southern culture and identity. Now there’s an answer: “Southern-ish.”
At least according to the 5,000-plus people who took the online version of our “How Southern Are You?” quiz between November 1 and December 1. Collectively they scored an average 35.79 out of a possible 159, putting them in a bracket clarified thusly: “Southern-ish. We suspect you were born to Yankee parents who moved South. You have absorbed some culture through assimilation. We are proud. But as the saying goes: Just because a cat has kittens in the oven, it don’t make them biscuits.”
Granted, the quiz—which tabulated pork and collard consumption, familiarity with minor characters in Gone with the Wind, knowledge of gospel hymns and country ballads, predilection toward seersucker, SEC fanaticism, and other markers of Southern heritage—is scientific-ish at best. But still.
While just 1 percent of the respondents snagged the top ranking of “Southern Born and Bred,” we did get an answer to the second question on our cover: “Should we even care?” That would be a resounding “Yes!” Quiz takers took to Facebook and Twitter to challenge their friends and family, as well as argue about our scoring mechanism.
“I want extra credit. I have a show dog that is a coonhound, dammit. And I have cooked and served kudzu to guests,” noted @pinkrocktopus, aka Atlantan Angela Warner, who scored 113. She posted a photograph of the men her great-great-grandfather shot for siphoning from his still. “NOW who’s Southern?” she asked. How can you argue with the progeny of a murderous moonshiner? We gave her 7 extra-credit points.
Local media types did not fare well. Creative Loafing news editor Thomas Wheatley scored just 4, while Mark Arum of WSB-TV earned 23, bested by the AJC’s Pete Corson, who racked up 35 points.
A sampling of other tweets: “I got a 69, shouldn’t I get bonus points for being born in the same hospital as Ray Charles and Paula Deen?” asked @markmcl88. “83 points. My Louisiana mother will be so proud,” bragged @sandden. “Eeek! Only 4 points and I’ve lived here for 8 years! You can take the girl out of Jersey . . .” wryly observed @robinnphoto, while @allisonyoung crowed, “I am still, very happily, a Damn Yankee.”
Okay, so everyone cares, just not all in the same way.
Number of readers who took our “How Southern Are You?” quiz online between November 1 and December 1, 2012
Percentage who trace Southern roots at least five generations
Survey respondents named Jim Bob
Percentage who didn’t know what potlikker is
Percentage with UGA stickers on their vehicles
Percentage who can’t recognize a camellia when they see one
Percentage who attended Vacation Bible School
Highest score. This respondent inherited Grandma’s quilt, cast-iron skillet, Bible, silver, and sweet potato pie recipe.
Lowest score. Yup, that’s a minus. This respondent doesn’t even eat bacon, let alone drink sweet tea.
Want to know where you fall on our Southernness meter? Take the quiz at atlantamagazine.com/southern