Oklahoma Scores Twice on the America’s Most Redneck Cities List
I've lived in Oklahoma longer than any other place throughout my life, but I never never thought this state was "redneck" by the overt definitions I grew up with. That doesn't mean I didn't at least know redneck people in my youth, but the overwhelming majority of people were what most would consider "normal."
Then again, I spent all of my teen years in a really clean Mayberry-type of small town, so there's a chance I just can't see redneckery anymore.
My formative years were in the 90s and Jeff Foxworthy was universally famous for defining what a redneck was. Having an old non-running car in your driveway wasn't redneck by his definitions, but having more than one old non-running car in your driveway was. It's really a weird juxtaposition of opinions.
I'm sure there are more than a dozen ways to base a measure of redneckery on, but I would want to point out there is a difference between redneck and racist. Not to say those are mutually exclusive terms, but I don't think that overlap is as big as my extremely young zoomer-liberal-editor thinks it is.
All the same, I recently learned that one of our oldest family friends once said "I didn't know I was black until I moved to Oklahoma..." so there's that too. Growing up in South Louisiana, we weren't as much "black and white" as we were all just bored and poor, but if she says there's a racist overlap, I'll trust her.
Back on the topic of redneckery.
A real estate website called Movoto compiled a list of America's most redneck cities based on several metrics based on US Census data.
- Percentage of high school dropouts
- Number of gun shops per capita
- Number of taxidermists per capita
- Country radio stations per capita
- Number of Walmarts per capita
- Number of boot stores per capita
- Number of lawnmower repair shops
- Distance to nearest NASCAR track
That's a lot to take into account to determine how redneck a place might be. Here's how the Top 10 Most Redneck States in America ranked.
- Atlanta, Ga.
- Kansas City, Mo.
- Oklahoma City, Okla.
- Nashville, Tenn.
- Tulsa, Okla.
- Fort Worth, Texas
- Arlington, Texas
- Sacramento, Calif.
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Mesa, Ariz.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - Third most redneck city in America.
Yes, OKC has a lot of gun stores. It's a metro area of over 1million people, which seems pretty normal. Taxidermists too. Walmart is Oklahoma's grocery store, country radio is popular here, and everybody needs a quality lawnmower repair professional in their community.
Nothing seems out of place with those metrics in terms of "normal" Oklahoma, but the high school graduation rate, specifically in OKC, is falling fast.
The graduation rate of high school students in the Oklahoma City School District was 86.2% in 2018. In 2023, that rate has plummeted to just 65%.
Depending on who you talk to, the reason OKC's rate has fallen so hard is based entirely on politics. Half of everyone blames the pandemic, the other half blames the majority-republican leadership in our state. The actual answer is likely infinitely more complicated but still somewhere in the middle.
Tulsa, Oklahoma - Fifth most redneck city in America.
A similar story can be told about Tulsa. Guns, Walmarts, mechanics, etc... totally normal for middle America, but the high school graduation rates fell significantly.
The graduation rate of high school students in the Tulsa School District was 87% in 2018, but only 71% in 2023.
If you looked at the number one redneck city metrics, the curiosities only continue. Atlanta, GA had a high school graduation rate even higher than either OKC or Tulsa in 2019--89.2%... Even now their rate remains at 80% in 2023.
Are there infinitely more lawnmower mechanics in ATL? Maybe Georgia has three times as many boot stores...
The blog I read about it didn't go into detail hardly at all, it didn't provide any actual data or numbers so I guess we're just supposed to take their word for it... which is a red flag for any source on the internet (including this one).
It was probably just all about them clicks.