Apr 19, 2015

What it really means to be a redneck


Today, I learned something new while hanging out with the DAR ladies.  And you thought that they were stuffy old white women...but I learned the origin of the term redneck. I always thought that it meant that those men who worked out in the fields for so long that they had a permanent red neck.  It didn't come from where you think it did. 

Jeff Foxworthy has coined the phrase, "You know you're a redneck if..." and then you fill in the blank. When one thinks about a redneck you imagine an uneducated southerner riding around in a truck with the rebel flag in the back window who is rough and rowdy.

The term redneck, however, goes much deeper than America's Southern roots and across the pond. The term didn't originate in the South like many believe. It all started in Scotland. In the early 1600's Scotland was divided by the Highlands and the Lowlands. The Lowland Scots were primarily Presbyterian and the Highlanders were Catholic. King Charles I was determined to bring all of the churches in Scotland and England under his rule and there be one religion, the Church of England. His decree required all Scots to sign a covenant pledging to the state religion. Of course, many refused and were basically signing their death warrant. The "rebels" were made examples of with public hangings. The dissenters were labeled "Covenanters" and the true ones signed in their own blood, and wore blood-red pieces of cloth around their necks as a distinctive insignia. Thus redneck was a name bestowed upon the Presbyterians and their descendants. Many of the non-signers fled Scotland for Ulster, Ireland and eventually to America. 

So, whenever you hear the word redneck think again about the origin and what the Scots went through to be called a name that we have used in a derogatory connotation. I am proud to be a redneck because I am Southern and have roots across the pond too! Click on the link above (redneck in red) and watch an episode of the program called Americas Secret Slang. It was very interesting. 

Source: Our Redneck Roots by Donald D. Erwin
Painting by Joseph Mason Reeves