Compared to the rest of the United States, Texas can seem like a country unto itself. Not only is it incredibly large, but it embodies a geographically fluctuating mixture of Deep South, Latinx, and Indigenous cultures, combined with various modern progressive ideologies and a Louisianian influence along the Gulf Coast. Because of its great diversity, Texas culture can be difficult to understand from an outside perspective. Likewise, Texans might have trouble integrating into places other than their home. This creates a type of unspoken alliance between Texans all around the world, and it can be seen in our own college community.
For the purpose of understanding this article, all further text written by Elise will be italicized while Ziv’scomments will be bolded.
Ziv and I met during a Weekly CAD meeting. On that day, we learned two things about each other: our names, and that we were both from Texas. Upon the discovery that he was from Houston, we began to talk about Texas pride and eventually formed a couple speculations about it. Our theories were sound, we thought, but they were based on a fairly small sample size. To get a more accurate picture, we had to interview some Texans, and interview them we did. But before we get to that, our theories will be explained.
The “Three Cities” and Texan Loyalty Theories
The (colloquial) theory (please don’t get mad at me, STEM majors) that I formed was that every Texan has three Texas cities that are important to them: the city they love and will defend unconditionally (generally the city they’re from or live near to), the city that they hate and will attack unconditionally, and a third that they just generally dislike for no real reason. For example, my three are Houston/Austin/San Antonio, respectively, while Elise’s are San Antonio/Houston/Austin. This leads to internal division among Texans.
However, in my experience, every Texan will defend Texas itself from attacks. Nothing can divide two Texans more than talking about which cities are great and which ones (Austin) suck, but nothing can unite two Texans more than someone else disparaging the state. Texan loyalty is strong, and Texans are subtle and quick to anger.
Southern Charm Theory
The first thing I noticed when travelling to the North after living in Texas for eight years was the difference in service within the retail and restaurant industries. In every Texan store entered someone will be at your beck and call to assist you, or at least welcome you into their shop. I went into a toy store in Great Barrington (yes, a toy store, for kids), and the woman behind the counter looked me in the eye, scoffed, and went back to her crossword. This is not a one-time thing—waiters here are impatient compared to the lovely chatty ones in the Lone Star State, and I have been given the evil-eye by many a cashier. One might say that everyone in Texas is more polite because they’re scared that if they don’t act kindly then they will get shot, and people up here think it is dishonest to pretend to be nice to a stranger that you don’t know. However, I think Texas just has a stronger value of manners and customer service.
With these theories in mind we took to the Texan Rockers.
Where are you from?
Charlie Yates: Houston, Texas, the fourth biggest city in the country.
Isaac Claros: Houston.
Kaitlyn Chenowith: Born in Pflugerville, Texas, spent most of my time in Cedar Park, Texas.
Rachel Shi: Dallas, Texas, born and raised
What do you think of your hometown?
CY: I have mixed feelings for sure. It’s really hot, which sucks. There’s a lot of good stuff there, like concert venues, which I really like. A lot of culture, a lot of museums with really great art everywhere, particularly where my school was. It was kind of like the “Hipster District,” if that’s the right word.
IC: Grew up there. That’s all you need.
KC: I like the rural lifestyle, definitely. You know, I went to New York City and I didn’t, I hated it, you know? I don’t know, I like… just feeling like you could do anything, be anybody, that kind of Texas lifestyle cause, you know, everybody’s super patriotic and I want to be in the Coast Guard, so it helps.
RS: It’s okay, yeah. I grew up in a suburb that was rigorously academic-oriented, but as for recreation there are tons of barbeques, picnics, and water parks. I do appreciate the variety of cultural foods in my suburb of Plano, although it’s still difficult to find vegetarian options. There’s a nice art museum in the city. Otherwise, I live in a pretty standard American suburb.
Is there a city in Texas you dislike? If so, what about it makes you feel that way?
CY: Dallas! Dallas is the worst. Dallas is the armpit of Texas. I spent a night in Dallas once because my plane got delayed, and yeah, it was awful.
IC: Austin. Well, the city I mildly dislike is Houston. The city I really like, the city that I have really good feelings for, is Waco.
IC: Waco, yeah. Because Waco’s- It’s built around Lake Waco, and there’s this really dense rural community around there. But, because of how dense that community is, they- even though it’s mostly rural, they are kinda, like, in between, where they have small plots of land, pseudo-suburban, I guess. It’s kinda weird. I don’t know the exact word for it. Because there are so many of them, it means that they’re so close together. It means that Waco can support the amenities of a really big city or a fairly big city, even though it’s only got a fairly small resident population. So, the thing is that also gives it kind of a small-town feel, even though it has, like, a fair amount of commercial area.
KC: I mean, not strongly, but Dallas might be my least favorite. At least, of the places I’ve been to, and that’s just because it’s trying to be a baby New York, you know? They have some of the of the tallest buildings in the state, and I guess they’re just trying too hard.
RS: I haven’t traveled to many recently, so not really.
Do you think Texans have more regional loyalty/regional rivalry than denizens of other states?
CY: Definitely. I think Texas is № 1, at least in terms of thinking a state is № 1. I haven’t been to another state where you see this type of thing. I mean, our water bottles have Texas on them—everything has the Texas outline.
IC: Oh yeah. Well, it’s a Texan thing, but it’s also kind of a Southern thing and kind of a Midwestern thing.
KC: I… think so. Well, actually, I think I have to take that back, because since being at Simon’s Rock, you know, I’ve never lived anywhere else, right, so everyone in Texas is, you know, Texas this, Texas that, but up here, something happens with New Jersey, so, yeah, I think there’s a certain local pride in being from Texas and being raised with that kind of lifestyle, but I think that might just be the patriotism.
RS: I think because Texas is so big, maybe. I feel like there’s not so much of a competitive rivalry, but more like a curious comparison, because there’s so much diversity and differences.
What is the most different thing you’ve noticed up here?
CY: That’s a good question. Everyone talks faster up here, which is interesting, but it also seems just like they’re talking a little bit differently. I don’t know if that’s big city to rural life, but I’d say Texans tend to like big businesses, big consumerist type things, while Great Barrington is more of a smaller organic type of vibe. I don’t think one is inherently bad, but it’s different.
IC: Small families. Back in Texas, you’d normally have people with households from like two to four, two to three [children], really, but up here, it’s always one or two. And that goes for a lot of things. The whole bell curve just leans to the bigger side the further South you go. I know people who have, like, four kids, five kids, and they mostly all live down South, especially in Texas, whereas people up here either have a sibling or none at all, and it’s rarer to find people who have more than one sibling than to find people that have none.
KC: Paying attention to people’s pronouns, caring about people’s pronouns, it’s just—it’s amazing. Just a general, like, high-quality respect for people and their beliefs and their values and, you know, wanting to honor that and I think that’s really important in the Northeast, but I haven’t seen that anywhere else. It’s great.
RS: The very first different thing I realized was the atmosphere and how chilly it was (I was one of the first people to be wearing a coat in October). It felt strange to be waking up to bird calls instead of car noises and be around far fewer people per square mile. And then it was the smiles, friendliness, and open-mindedness, you know?
How do you feel about Tex-Mex? Do you miss it?
CY: So much. Tex-Mex, oh my gosh, it’s so good. They try in D-Hall, but it doesn’t work.
It’s because Chartwell can’t speak Spanish, so he can’t access the right recipes.
IC: I like Tex-Mex food.
KC: Oh yeah, it’s so spicy, but it’s just so good. I’ve been hard-pressed to find actual spicy food up here, and I just had an argument with somebody, like a “we just became best friends”-type thing, because they were just like “I love spicy food” and then I was like “I love spicy food”, so yeah, there’s no spiciness here. I’m sorry.
RS: Not really, actually. I mean, as a vegetarian I don’t really crave that stuff anymore. I was bred on traditional Chinese cuisine and surprisingly, there are many Asian restaurants where I’m from in the suburbs. I do miss a lot of that from home. You get so much more bang for your buck compared to the Berkshires.
What do you think Texas’s biggest problem is?
CY: There are a lot. Probably the biggest is the growing divide in the political opinion and between people in the cities and rural people. I think Texas struggles less than other places like Alabama, or more Bible-belt-y states. Texas has a conservative reputation, but I think it comes from a different place than a lot of others. It still definitely has a political leaning that has been erased in big cities. So you have Austin, which is one of the most liberal cities on Earth, but San Antonio, on the other hand, elected Trump, which I think is really interesting. It’s a challenge to govern such a divided state. We’ve seen a lot more actual battle within the Texas legislature, which I suppose is cool. It also seems like Texans can get along with people who are different in a weird way. It was crazy: my grandma—who’s a hardwired conservative and has Fox News on 24/7—went on an impassioned speech about trans-rights the last time she was at my house and I was just like, “Woah, this is cool!”
IC: It’s got a very strong regional identity that’s really undermined by how generic the cities are becoming. It goes beyond that. It goes to the corporatization of small-town America and cloned suburbs. They’re a problem everywhere, but are a little bit more noticeable here because the Texas cities are newer, so there’s more sprawl.
KC: Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. At least one of its big problems is education, but that goes for a lot of states. When I was in elementary school, we had to research it, and we were second or third to worst in the United States! So that’s a problem. And, you know, every state has standardized testing, but then again, they’ve improved it in so many ways. So yeah, I wouldn’t say it’s the biggest problem, but I couldn’t tell you what the biggest problem is if I tried.
RS: Sometimes people are overly confident in what they think they know. Texas “nationalism” is sort of implicitly taught in our public schools, so I think many people have considerable pride in their Texan identity, but this can sometimes lead to close-mindedness. I hope Texans can be more mentally flexible and do away with some of the walls they put around their opinions.
Have you noticed anything different about Texas Rockers as opposed to Rockers from other places?
CY: No. I feel like we all kind of buried a part of ourselves a little bit, not like we’re ashamed to be from Texas, but most people when they come here become someone else than what they were back home, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but it takes away from differences in culture just a little bit.
IC: They tend to like America a bit more, but in a way that doesn’t seem to affect their politics. It’s just kinda… idly. They think of America in better terms than other Rockers.
KC: I forgot to ask Kaitlyn about this. Mea culpa.
RS: I think we get along pretty well, and though we blend in, when we find someone from Texas it’s like, “Oh dude! We should hang out!” at least in my experience.
Conclusion for Loyalties Theory
Right, so the “Three Cities” theory was proved to be a bit simplistic, which I think is definitely fair, but I believe that the fundamental premise is sound. Texans are weird. And also very patriotic, apparently.
Conclusion for Southern Charm Theory
Okay, so maybe Texan charm was just a me thing, but there have been a few comments talking about how Texans are a lot more likely to get along with people who are different from them, which fits into my theory that Texas values politeness and manners.
Ziv Barancik and Elise Kelly
The rootin' tootin' cowboy-bootin' Cad dream team.