PPNA Happenings

Happenings, history and news of the Prospect Park Neighborhood and Ypsilanti

Is Ypsitucky a bad word?

Posted by ppna on June 21, 2008

Today the A2 News Ran a report on the Ypsitucky Supper being hosted at Zingerman’s Roadhouse. The article was based on complaints about the use of the term Ypsitucky.

I did research on this supper a week ago and I wasn’t concerned with the use of the term Ypsitucky rather that the Ypsitucky dinner was hosted by a restaurant in Ann Arbor. For the record, Zingerman’s co-founder Ari Weinzweig said that he was unaware that American Table was referring to it as an “Ypsitucky Supper,” and that Zingerman’s has been calling it the “Harriet Arnow Dinner” in all of its promotional materials You should also be aware that the company that planned the supper is based out of Ohio so Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti-Kentuckians (if you want to use the Politically Correct term) have nothing to do with this supper at all.

Growing up in Ypsilanti, most of my friend’s families were Ypsitucky folks and they used that term to describe themselves. The term Ypsitucky made it easy for folks to identify themselves within the community and I will say that the Ypsitucky folks provided Ypsilanti with a more easy going attitude than a lot of the surrounding communities. Ypsituckians also brought with them great music which was played around the potbelly stove at the freight house or on WSDS 1480AM. Many of the popular bands playing around the area today are still based in the sounds of the south.

What happened to the the term Ypsitucky is that outsiders started using the term and somehow made it a bad word and put Ypsilantians on the defensive about its use. Even Ypsilanti mayor Paul Schreiber has bought into this way of thinking by saying as he was quoted in the A2 news, “But the just plain term ‘Ypsitucky’ is a pejorative term.” I disagree with the mayor 100%. Outsiders have made us ashamed of a fact that we should be very proud of. We integrated conservative southern folks into a liberal northern city and we, as a city, have been better for it. We have maintained our liberal outlooks while adopting the more relaxed hands on type of living that our southern ancestors brought to us.

Because the layoffs in the auto industry over the past 20 years have forced (or allowed) many of the Ypsituckians to leave the city and head back South I don’t think you can refer to 2008 Ypsilanti as Ypsitucky. Ypsitucky is part of our heritage and we should embrace the term and be happy we had those folks from the South while we did.

Don’t be ashamed when people say Ypsitucky just nod with a smile on your face and say, ‘Yes, that makes us great.’ Remember, we could have been overrun by people from the east-coast like our neighbors to the West (ironically, Ypsilanti was primarily settled by people from New York but they were a different type). I personally rather be in Ypsitucky than AnnYork.

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