Are Ohioians the Okies of the Great Recession?
“Go Home Buckeyes,” was the caption in an article in The Charleston City Paper published this spring.
The command was wrapped around a brick in the photo. The subhead was “worthless nuts.”
“They have gelled hair, wear cargo shorts, vertical-lined shirts, and, if you’re really lucky, high black-and-white socks with tennis shoes,” says a “sixth generation Charlestonian.”
The article continues: “Each spring they attack the city, gumming pralines and Hyman’s hush puppy samples. Their legions are strong, and their numbers are growing. They’re called Ohioans.”
Angry Charlestonians have created a website Gobacktoohio.com, according to the article.
It also includes an interview with a charming Charleston resident who sells “Leave your daughter and go back to Ohio” stickers for $3 a pop.
My best friend from high school recently moved to Charleston, following her boyfriend. She said there is a very distinctive anti-Ohio attitude in the city.
It got me thinking about The Grapes of Wrath, with its references to the derogatory “Okies” from Oklahoma that fled Midwestern dust bowl despair for California’s lettuce bowl during the Great Depression.
Are Ohioians the new Okies?
I guess I never thought much about how our economic diaspora might be affecting other communities. Aren’t we the ones responsible for the gangbuster real estate industry in the South?
According to my friend, Natalie, however the job market in Charleston is abysmal. In Ohio, she sold print advertising. Now the college graduate is a waitress, and she’s not optimistic about her prospects.
Ohioians are attracted by South Carllina’s beaches and sun. About 40 percent of the state’s residents were born elsewhere. It is a “magnet state,” while Ohio is just the opposite. Natalie said all of her friends, a group of about 10, are from Ohio.
Charleston is a tourist town and it has a tourist economy too. That means lots of service industry jobs, few corporate headquarters and a cyclical business season that all but shuts down in the off-season.
My guess is that the Ohio backlash is economic. In the article, one Ohio detractor says, “they take our jobs and harass our women.”
The joking tone of the article and its sources aside, I think there is some real tension and it’s economic at heart.
It’s strange to see white Midwesterners on the receiving end some of the prejudice that international immigrants have battled for years.