Singleton

“Missouri is St. Louis and Kansas City. The rest is Arkansas.”

 

I’ve heard this phrase – and it’s variants – many times over the years about this state. 

The first time I heard it was when I lived in South St. Louis City years ago, but I’ve since heard it outside of Missouri. I’ve even heard it in Florida, and even back home in South Carolina.

I have had conversations about this subject with people in Lincoln County, and even inside this newsroom. Some find the phrase hilarious, while others find it infuriating, condescending and asinine.

Personally, I had always thought it was funny. That’s because I was living in a city at the time, and I really hadn’t spent much time in the rest of Missouri other than speeding through it at 90 miles per hours avoiding law enforcement and screaming when I didn’t realize how hilly this state really is.

When you think about it, one can see how and why those who are offended by the saying have such antipathy for the phrase. 

Since I work in Lincoln County, which is rural, even though it’s considered part of the St. Louis Metropolitan Area, I can now see why some people here might not think the phrase is so funny.

I’ve never been to Arkansas, but I know Missourians don’t want to be compared to them. However, what the phrase really implies is the rest of Missouri, outside of the cities and the suburbs around those cities, is nothing but rednecks and racists.

Once again, I’ve never been to Arkansas, so I can’t judge that state. Maybe it’s because the cities are more progressive, and the rural areas of this state are decisively conservative.

What I do know is rednecks and racists can be found everywhere, even the cities and suburbs, and it’s a little bit elitist to say all the rural areas of an entire state are like that, whether it Missouri or any state.

When my family members or friends in the city ask me what’s it like working in Lincoln County as an African-American, I always give the same answer.

It’s like working anywhere else. 

Is it supposed to be different? Is it supposed to be like working in Arkansas? Once again, I don’t know anything about Arkansas.

I’ve worked with great people here. The firefighters in Old Monroe should do stand-up comedy. Doing interviews in Moscow Mills seems more like conversations with family members than work.

I had never worked with school districts before in my entire life before I came here, but I’ve gotten a great deal of help from Lincoln County R-III and R-IV, making the transition much easier.

Truthfully, I’m not the biggest basketball fan, because I’m a true Southern football fan. However, I’ve learned to appreciate the Midwest’s love for basketball, especially here in Lincoln County, even though I was too busy to really get out to as many games as I should have this year.

I promise to do better next year.

There are too many good people here to lump into one awful category, so yes, I can definitely see how the term can be elitist and condescending.

I don’t know Arkansas, but I do know Lincoln County, and I know it’s not a bad place…