- Midwesterners are sick of people thinking their region is just corn and white people.
- Nearly two dozen people from the Midwest shared with Business Insider what they think “coasties” get wrong about the region.
- The most popular complaints: Don’t think all Midwesterners are farmers, and don’t call it “flyover country.”
Just as coastal folks might call the Midwest “flyover country,” Midwesterners have their own slang to poke fun at those outside their region.
“A lot of ‘coasties’ think that there isn’t much out in the Plains states, Heartland, and Rust Belt,” a Wisconsin native who gave his name as Wolfman told Business Insider.
But Midwesterners say those coasties are dead wrong.
According to the US Census Bureau, the Midwest consists of two regions: East North Central (Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan) and West North Central (Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota).
Nearly two dozen people from across the Midwest shared with Business Insider what they wish people from outside the region would stop saying or thinking about their home.
Everyone is polite
“Perhaps more people are more polite, but we still have rude, entitled people here, just like everywhere else,” one Kansas resident told Business Insider.
There’s no diversity
Many Midwesterners said they wished people knew the region isn’t just a bunch of white people.
“The diversity is huge,” Sandra Smith DuPree, a Nebraska native who now lives in Florida, told Business Insider. “I felt that I grew up with a diverse mix of people. I love that and wish that all of America would show kindness to all people regardless of ethnicity.”
About 10% of people in the Midwest are black, 8% are Hispanic, and 3% are Asian.
Here are some of the most ethnically diverse cities in the Midwest:
- Dearborn, Michigan.Nearly half of residents of this Detroit suburb are Arab American, and almost 40% speak Arabic at home. It’s the US city with the largest proportion of Arab Americans.
- Chicago. African Americans, who make up just under one-third of Chicago’s population, have a rich history in the Midwest’s biggest city. And about one-third of Chicagoans are Hispanic.
- Minneapolis-St. Paul. Minnesota’s Twin Cities are majority white, but they have the country’s biggest concentration of Hmong and Somalis.
It’s OK to make fun of Midwesterners
Wolfman told Business Insider there’s a certain narrative about the Midwest that’s overblown: “camo wedding cakes, bait-shop gunfights, and ranch-dressing-themed gender-reveal parties.”
That said, he added that plenty of Midwesterners also don’t mind making the occasional corn joke.
“We do have genuine, real hard-working, educated people who happen to be in on the joke regarding our own culture of kitsch and genuinely enjoying it,” he said.
Everyone is a farmer
Nearly every Midwesterner told Business Insider that they were sick of people assuming they’re farmers.
According to the Department of Agriculture, seven of the top 10 agriculture-producing states are in the Midwest, but No. 1 is California.
No one is educated or cultured
James Hoyt, a copy editor from Kansas, said he was tired of the narrative that casts Midwesterners as insular racists.
“If news media wants to accurately cover the Midwest and reverse the narrative, then we need to spotlight the countless people who are trying to make things better,” Hoyt told Business Insider. “You can find just as many reactionaries in Midtown [New York] as you can in Oshkosh.”
Wolfman said many believe the Midwest “has no intellectual cultural worth – that the inhabitants are simpletons, rubes, or bigots.”
“Those people exist here, but so do industrial, blue-collar, future-minded, progressive people who enjoy culture and art,” he told Business Insider.
Hunting and fishing are the main pastimes
The biggest misconception about Midwesterners, according to Breah, a Michigan native, is “that we’re all a bunch of hicks, or that we all hunt and fish.”
Corn is everywhere
Three Midwesterners told Business Insider there isn’t corn everywhere.
It’s really a flyover region
Midwesterners said they were sick of people calling their region “flyover country.”
“I don’t believe people think about the Midwest much; they are just ‘flyover states’ where nothing happens,” Deanna Ambrose, a Kansan who works in software quality assurance, told Business Insider. “It’s not really a misconception in my mind – more like a lack of any recognition we exist.”
Joey, a business analyst from Michigan, also said he felt as if the Midwest doesn’t exist for many people who live on the coasts.
“There’s magnificent natural beauty and crucial manufacturing, shipping, and economic output that comes from these states,” Joey told Business Insider. “I think a lot of people imagine the US as being composed of two coasts, and maybe Texas, with that middle part being invisible.”
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