Aren’t all the U.S. states and cities basically the same? – Regional diversity in the USA

Anyone who’s traveled inside the U.S.A. knows the answer to this already. For now though, I want to tackle this from a cultural perspective. I’m thinking of opening a new category later on that focuses on geographical differences. This here is about the American people. I’ll break this post up quickly into the following categories:

  • religion
  • gun control
  • ethnic background
  • political stance
  • language & immigration
  • the weather factor
  • identity

I also won’t talk about every state and city, but I’ll try to break it down enough to give you a good idea. Starting off!

Religion

I want to begin with one of the most easily distinguishable differences between different states in general. As you might remember from my post about religion (if not, please check it here), the U.S. is mostly a Protestant nation. However, you’ll remember that some places are less Protestant than others. While about 70% of Americans are Christians, there is a higher concentration of them in this general region called the South. That’s why this region is generally known as the “Bible Belt,” and it’s where you normally find the most religious and traditional communities. Otherwise, the Mormon communities are identified as the “most religious” group in America, which I guess means they’re super devout. Other hardline religious and cultural groups are the Amish and Mennonites around Pennsylvania and Ohio mostly.

Peek at map showing the dominant religion in each U.S. county
Credit Robby Berman from here

This map explains pretty much all I want to say about religion. Among Christians, the Evangelists and Black Protestants are super prevalent in the Bible Belt. Mainline Protestants are more common in the North, while Hispanic Catholics are really prevalent close to the Mexican border and around Miami. Otherwise, Catholics fill up the Northeast, and there are even a few enclaves in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas around where the Spanish and French used to have more influence. Mormons are really popular in the West, especially around Utah, and Native American Catholics have little enclaves throughout the West. Cool.

On the other hand, New England (Northeast) altogether tends to be the least-religious part of the country. But you can see, even within most of the states, religious affiliations change based on the region. Southern Florida, Texas and Louisiana are mostly Catholic while the northern parts are Protestant. The opposite is true in Illinois. And that should be a good enough intro for you.

Gun Control

Credit Kathy Morris from here

That’s right! American states differ greatly on whether they support gun control or not. Unlike religion, this concept has less of a pattern. There really doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason to which states support more gun control over others when we talk about permits. States that require permits vs those that don’t are pretty scattered all over the place. However, when we look at states that are gun-friendly, or are more accepting of having guns in general, the trends become more clear. These places usually coincide with states that are more rural or where people most like to go hunting.

The South and some parts of the West are pretty evenly supportive of guns. There are some lone anomalies, like Nevada in the West, Iowa in the Midwest, or New Hampshire in New England. Overall, it’s easy to see the trend. Southern states support guns. A couple of random states in the Midwest support guns. Some random western states and most of the Northeast don’t support guns. Apparently, Delaware, New Jersey, and Hawaii really hate guns. I feel like the big game hunting isn’t so good in those states, though.

Ethnic Background

The U.S. is definitely a diverse nation where nearly all ethnicities and nationalities (not to mention cuisines) can be found. What is Laotian food, anyway?

However, this too depends on the state or city in question. For example, most big cities have more diverse populations than the rural areas. There are several cities with more “minorities” than there are white people (check my other article here for more on this). Looking across the board, cities are usually where you’ll find a large chunk of diversity at.

Read it on Reddit

Still, there are some other factors to look at. As you can see, people of English ancestry are found especially in the South and the West. German ancestry is all over that central-north area of the country, while Scandinavian ancestry sits way in the North. The Irish filled up around New England, while Italians were mostly around the Tri-State area (Metro New York). Native Americans are dotted about the West, while you even see many Inuit at the top of Alaska. French ancestry is strong in the Northeast and around southern Louisiana. Something to remember about the German area is that, even though it takes up the most space, most of that region has a small and scattered population.

Political Stance

Now, I don’t like to get political, trust me. I will say that every state pretty much has either strong support for Democrats or Republicans. Some things to look for are that the West Coast, some western states, and the Northeast tend to swing more left, while most the other states swing right. Still, you’ll find that across the country, most large urban areas will be more liberal-minded than not, and most rural or small urban areas will lean conservative. There are a few small exceptions to this, but it is almost the rule when looking at political stance.

Something else that’s interesting is the so-called “Swing States.” These are states that are caught in the middle and may stand on one side or the other depending on who’s running for office. Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are classic examples of Swing States. In the most recent election (2020) some states like Georgia or Arizona proved to be new examples of Swing States. Even Texas showed to be a little more liberal than usual, despite its long history of being overwhelmingly conservative. No matter what you thought of the election, there’s no denying that some places in America feel a little more blue than red. All we need is a white party to complete the American flag. Maybe it could balance the other two?

Language & Immigration

We already looked at ancestral ties between Americans in different states, but what about the newcomers? You might know that Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the U.S., but who speaks it depends on where you are. The Southwest has the most Spanish speakers, but most of them are from Mexico, with a big group of Central Americans and small groups of others. Meanwhile, Florida and the East Coast have tons more Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans and South Americans. Oh, and a lot of Mexicans too. Geography plays a role in this, since the East is closer to the Caribbean, while the West literally touches on Mexico.

You also get lots of Asians with their respective languages in major cities, but especially on the West Coast and New York. Some of the biggest and most authentic Asian communities are in places like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and so on. Of course, the West and East coasts are closest to Asia, so that’s where a bunch of the Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Indian, and even Middle Eastern immigrants have gone along with their various languages. For more on languages, check this post.

Something else to look at is historic minorities in the U.S. African Americans are especially prevalent in both the South, since that’s where most the African slaves were taken, and big cities since that’s where they moved to find work and security after being freed. Native Americans are most prevalent in parts of the West because that’s where the most open and inhospitable parts of the country are. Many nations and tribes were driven from their homelands further east and forced to relocate out West, trading lush forests and rivers for, you know, deserts, tornadoes, and rattlesnakes. They were also forced to live with the people that already occupied these regions which was a problem because they spoke completely different languages, had different cultures, and were already there. Well, that’s another post.

Weather Factor

Speaking of tornadoes, a big part of the identity of someone from any given state or city is their weather. It might sound trivial at first, but I’ll show you. Think of Southern California and what comes to mind? Sunshine, beaches, and palm trees — I hope. Please, try not to think of anything bad! But this is the association someone from SoCal has, and so it goes for any other state or region. Seattle is famous for being rainy and cloudy, Arizona is known for extreme desert climates, Colorado is known for its mountains and skiing, and Florida is known for being sunny and tropical, with the occasional tropical storm. Chicago is famous for being windy and cold in the winter, while Hawaii is a paradise where it’s always a nice beach day. The weather ends up determining a lot of how we perceive each state and city.

Identity

So, you put all these factors together and you get a good idea of what the identity of someone from a certain state or region might be like. There are many other factors, by the way, and no two people are the same, but this can give you an idea. For example, someone from New York City is more likely to be a Catholic with Italian ancestry who doesn’t really approve of guns, probably a Democrat who speaks English but if they speak Spanish they’re family is likely from the Caribbean or maybe they immigrated from China, they definitely like Chinese and Caribbean food but they’re used to hot summers and freezing cold winters. Anyway, they might be none of those things, but you get the point. Every state and major city is a little (or a lot) different.

Alright! Tell me what you think of this post. Does your country have lots of diversity like the U.S.? Can you name some other differences between the states? Do you want to guess my profile based on this list? (hint, hint) I’m from Los Angeles.

Also, contact me or send me a question if you want to know more, talk, or give some suggestions for future posts. Right here: tietewaller@gmail.com

Thanks and be safe!

Here are some more resources:

Religion in the U.S.: https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/

Map of religions by county: https://bigthink.com/robby-berman/dominant-religions-in-the-us-county-by-county

Least religious places in U.S.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_religiosity#:~:text=According to a 2011 Gallup,%)%20were%20near%20the%20median.

Gun-friendly states: https://www.zippia.com/advice/least-gun-friendly-states/

Ethnic Ancestry in the U.S.: https://www.reddit.com/r/MapPorn/comments/bfpbzu/largest_ancestry_groups_in_the_united_states_by/

Os americanos são religiosos? Os religiosos são todos protestantes? – Religião nos EUA

Entre algumas comunidades brasileiras, tenho ouvido algumas dúvidas sobre se os americanos realmente pregam a religião ou não. Sinto que essa idéia vem da percepção de que os países desenvolvidos (aqueles países “bem-sucedidos”) não colocam muita importância na religião embora, em vez disso, se focam na força das suas nações sobre as outras. Às vezes parece que esse louvor se torna ao favor do consumismo. Pode até ser que como uma sociedade, os americanos tendem a focar muito no sucesso, ganhando dinheiro, ou os demais valores capitalistas.

Porém, os americanos em geral tendem a ser religiosos de alguma forma. Entre mais que 320 milhoes de pessoas, mais que 200 milhões reclamam ser cristãos. E para tocar na sua segunda questão, sim, quase a metade do país segue algum tipo de denominação protestante ou evangélico, como são comunmente referidas. Mas, entre elas;

  • 162 milhões de protestantes
  • 76 milhões são católicos
  • 23 milhões de religiosos não-cristãos

Bom, existe um robusto grupo de não-afiliados, cerca de 20% do país, para dar uma idéia. Nesse leque, pode achar tudo desde agnósticos a ateus e até gente que “não sabe” ou que simplesmente não tem preferência alguma. Alguns desses simplesmente não responderam a essa parte do censo.

Uso os números para lhes dar alguma vista sobre o tamanho e de quantos indivíduos habitam esse país tão gigante. Mesmo entre os religiosos, existem aqueles que não praticam regularmente ou que não declaram uma religião por causa de propósitos pessoais. Alguns, como eu, são espirituais e têm uma visão mais geral e naturalista sobre religião que não é ligada a qualquer igreja em particular. Ao final do dia, os Estados Unidos ainda é um dos países mais religiosos do mundo, ainda que protestante na sua maioria. Tem na verdade a maior quantidade de pessoas que consideram religião importante entre os “países desenvolvidos,” nao contando os países do sul da Europa (pensa em Portugal, Itália, etc.). Também tem muita diversidade entre as religiões praticadas, desde o siquismo, budismo, judaismo, até todos os tipos de islã e cristianismo que pode imaginar.

Mas 76 milhões de católicos ainda conta como muita gente, não conta?

Recursos:

Demografia dos Estados Unidos: https://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/united-states-population

A construção religiosa dos EUA: https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/

A importância da religião em cada país: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Importance_of_religion_by_country

“Jesus He Knows Me” [Genesis] – lyrics for English students

A flag featuring both cross and saltire in red, white and blue

Watch the video below –>

D’you see the face on the TV screen coming at you every Sunday? _ See the face on the billboard? _ Well, that man is me

  • *Do you see the face…? He says Sunday as a reference to being a holy or spiritual figure.

On the cover of a magazine _ There’s no question why I’m smiling _ You buy a piece of paradise, you buy a piece of me

  • Buying a piece of paradise has the same feeling as buying a plot of land as if going to heaven were a business transaction.

I’ll get you everything you wanted _ I’ll get you everything you need _ You don’t need to believe in the hereafter

  • The “hereafter” is another way to talk about life after death.

Just believe in me _ ‘Cause Jesus, he knows me _ And he knows I’m right _ I’ve been talking to Jesus _ All my life _ Oh yes, he knows me _ And he knows I’m right _ Well, he’s been telling me everything is alright _ I believe in the family _ With my ever-loving wife beside me

  • Putting “ever” before some verbs can make them mean that something is lasting or persisting. “He is ever talking about that same TV show.” Ever-loving is the most popular usage, though, especially in music.

But she don’t know about my girlfriend _ Or the man I met last night

  • *She doesn’t know about… His wife doesn’t know about his undercover actions. It presents how, often, people who show to be perfect in front of others have problems and secrets like anyone else, even religious leaders.

Do you believe in God? _ ‘Cause that is what I’m selling

  • He’s using the image or idea of God to make money and fame.

And if you wanna get to heaven _ Well, I’ll see you right

  • “I’ll see you right” means that he’ll make what you want happen.

You won’t even have to leave your house _ Or get out of your chair _ You don’t even have to touch that dial _ ‘Cause I’m everywhere

  • “Don’t touch that dial” has been a popular phrase on TV commercials and programs where the presenter tries to keep the attention of the audience. “Dial” is another word for “remote control.” He’s “everywhere” references the omnipresence of God, being everywhere. However, he is everywhere in the sense of media, like on TV, magazines, radio, etc. He’s also making it as easy as possible to participate in his “scheme,” since you can even join inside your house from a chair.

Jesus, he knows me _ And he knows I’m right _ I’ve been talking to Jesus _ All my life _ Oh yes, he knows me _ And he knows I’m right _ Well, he’s been telling me everything’s gonna be alright _ Won’t find me practicing what I’m preaching

  • *You won’t find me… “Practice what you preach” is a common way to say that someone actually does (or should do) what they say they are going to do. “You need to practice what you preach, man.”

Won’t find me making no sacrifice

  • Double negatives! *You won’t find me making any sacrifices. He might be using incorrect grammar on purpose to show the ignorance or lack of professionalism of the types of people who try to cheat others.

But I can get you a pocketful of miracles

  • This “pocketful of miracles” sounds like it’s from a book or movie. Sometimes using “a pocketful” makes the object a lot more dreamy and positive. Think of that song “Pocketful of Sunshine” by Natasha Bedingfield.

If you promise to be good, try to be nice _ God will take good care of you _ Well, just do as I say, don’t do as I do

  • It sounds like a church sermon! Except at the end, there is a twist. The ultimate phrase of a hypocrite.

Well, I’m counting my blessings _ As I’ve found true happiness _ ‘Cause I’m a-getting richer _ Day by day

  • To “count blessings” is to show gratitude or think of ways that you are grateful for something. He says, “I’m a-getting—” It’s an old-fashioned way to talk, but used nowadays sarcastically. It doesn’t really mean anything itself. “He’s a-running, he’s a-going!”

You can find me in the phone book _ Just call my toll-free number

  • “Call our toll-free number” is a popular phrase in advertising to get people to call and ask about a product. It means that the call is free.

You can do it any way you want _ Just do it right away

  • “Right away” means “right now,” just in case you didn’t know.

And there’ll be no doubt in your mind _ You’ll believe everything I’m saying _ If you wanna get closer to Him _ Get on your knees and start paying

  • “Him” with a capital “H” is used to refer to God or Jesus, generally. He plays with the idea of getting on your knees to pray, but he says instead to pay. Essentially, the “worship” is directed toward him and not to God. Again, hypocrisy.

Cause Jesus, he knows me _ And he knows I’m right _ I’ve been talking to Jesus _ All my life _ Oh yes, he knows me _ And he knows I’m right _ Well, he’s been telling me everything’s gonna be alright

  • It seems like he is two people in this song. Phil as a preacher is saying that Jesus knows he’s right and supports his claims. This is how corrupt religious leaders justify their followers’ having to pay for services, saying that “Jesus knows I’m right!” But, Phil as the singer of Genesis is saying that he knows what Jesus wants and, maybe, it’s to prove how corrupt these false leaders are. It might not really be about Jesus, but about pure intentions vs. corruption and hypocrisy, since I’m not sure if Genesis were ever religious or not.

And the lyrics repeat.

Watch and listen here: