Southern U.S. use of "Miss [FirstName]" -- racial or class connotations?
September 11, 2012 7:24 AM Subscribe
Southern Naming Conventions
: Is there a race or class component to the Southern U.S. use of "Miss [FirstName]"
(when used by adults to refer to other adults)? Which groups use this, when, and what does it connote when employed between/among races or social classes?
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj to society & culture (50 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
At my mother's work I was introduced to a (older, African American, originally Southern) administrative assistant who prefers to be called "Miss Janice". I have no problems with this and will use whatever form of address she would like for herself; I'm also not making any judgements. Her call, all the way.
That said, I (Midwesterner, white, quite a bit younger than her) felt slightly weird about it -- maybe in a paternalistic or infantilizing way or something? I'd like to read more about this and/or hear from Southerners what it means in different contexts (when used within a race/class group, or when used between two different races/classes, etc.); I'm open to the idea that it might just be me projecting weirdness onto it.
Though I have met counterexamples, it seems like most Southerners I have known that are referred to in this way are 1.) female, 2.) black, 3.) poor or working class, and 4.) employed in a domestic, childcare, or other "support" role. This could be confirmation bias on my part; I'm in no way steeped in the nuances of Southern culture.