the ypsitucky nonsense

Is there anyone in the audience who really gives a damn that people sometimes refer to Ypsilanti as Ypsitucky? Maybe it’s just because I’m from Kentucky, but I don’t consider it an insult to imply a connection to the blue grass state…. The following clip comes from the “Ann Arbor News”:

An upcoming dinner at Zingerman’s Roadhouse dubbed by an organizer as an “Ypsitucky Supper” has raised some eyebrows over the use of a moniker some people view as derogatory.

The June 27 event – meant to showcase the area’s Appalachian heritage through food – is officially called the “Harriette Arnow Tribute Dinner.”

But it’s described as a “four-course Ypsitucky Supper” in promotional materials sent to the news media by American Table Culinary Tours. A press release says the dinner will “pay tribute to all the mountaineers who followed the so-called ‘Hillbilly Highways’ in search of steady work.”

“Ypsitucky” has long been used by some people, often in a demeaning sense, to refer to the area’s Southern heritage. The term was originally coined for the migrants from Kentucky and other southern states who came to work in the Ypsilanti area’s auto factories after World War II.

While some residents of the city and township see it as a point of pride, others say the term makes fun of the area’s roots….

Ypsilanti City Councilwoman Lois Richardson said Ypsitucky is a term that has been around for a long time. “It was a poke at the people from Kentucky that moved up here,” Richardson said. ” … It’s really a derogatory term. It’s not one that I would use…”

With all due respect to Lois, aren’t there worse things that people say about Ypsilanti? I’d much rather people call us “Ypsitucky” than “that scary place where pathetic middle-aged men from Ann Arbor come for meth and lap dances.”

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  1. mark
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    The Zingerman’s menu for the evening, by the way, includes moonshine.

  2. Brackache
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    I had a couple comment fragments for you about Kentuckian Minstrel Shows and making an entire month where no one’s allowed to get offended at anything, but I can’t really put them together in a way that really fires on all cylinders.

  3. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    So, around 1915 musicians would travel around writing and selling canned “comic songs” with community’s names attached.

    One such entrepreneurs stop in Ypsilanti, produced this gem.

    I can only think how much better it would’ve been had the rhyme been with “tucky” than “lanti.”

    Rewrite, anyone?

  4. mark
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Why’s is it considered offensive to have your city linked to hardworking Kentuckians who headed North in hopes of finding work? It’s not like we’re talking about lazy good-for-nothing folks from Tennessee just coming to rob and poke fun at people. These were, by all accounts, good people who contributed mightily to the local culture, right?

  5. Posted June 24, 2008 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Interesting that Mark is now laying off his new pals at Zingerman’s. Are you saying the writer of said article was wrong in writing it?

  6. zingformant
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Point of clarification – It wasn’t Zingerman’s that decided to promote the event in this way. Following is an internal letter distributed by Ari.

    Hi All

    Just wanted to write a quick note in reference to the front page (!) Ann Arbor News story today about the Harriette Arnow dinner we’re hosting at the RH Friday night. I don’t know if you saw the story but you can view it on line at:

    It leads with the rather . . . (“controversy-provoking”?) headline, “Ypsitucky Supper’ planned next week, but term raises some eyebrows.” If you read the whole story you do get the gist of what the event is about. But, to me the headline and the article really kind of do a disservice to what is actually a pretty cool thing. While the News is of course welcome to write whatever they like and use whatever angle they prefer, below are a few of the things that I might have focused an article on. All are, I’m sure, less titillating and “controversial” than the Ypsitucky thing, but, to my sense of the world, a whole heck of a lot more meaningful.

    For starters, I might have touched on the fact that the dinner is the idea of two young women-Hanna Raskin and Catherine Dann-who grew up in Ann Arbor. Local women doing good work! Both studied American, history, food and culture and then moved down South to live. They had the courage to start a non profit doing food history tours to spread their passion for American food and cooking. It’s called American Culinary Tours and you can check out the details of it at their website. If you read through the site you’ll see that they’re doing some pretty inspiring stuff and that their values are very much in line with ours.

    – As one of their first tours they decided to come back to Southeastern Michigan to honor the place they grew up and its connection to the South that they’d been studying through work they’ve done with the Southern Foodways Alliance and John T. Edge. In particular their idea was to focus on the now rarely discussed migration of people from Kentucky in the 30s and 40s to find work at the then (if, unfortunately not now) booming auto plants in this area.

    – As part of that tour they planned a dinner that would honor Kentucky-born author Harriette Arnow who wrote about the migration in her most famous work, “The Dollmaker.” The book was made into a movie starring Jane Fonda. I happen to be a big, big fan of her writing. If you want to read her work, which I love, my favorite of her books is “Hunter’s Horn,” a novel that takes place in the hills of Kentucky and has a lot of great food stories in it. And she wrote two great history books on the region-“Seedtime on the Cumberland,” and “Flowering of the Cumberland.” You can get the whole list and lots off background on line of course.

    – In truth, Arnow was probably one of America’s great writers, and although hardly anyone knows it, she lived her last twenty years or so right here in Ann Arbor. She (and her husband Harold) lived out on Nixon Road until she died in 1986. She’s barely known here in town but is a real treasure of our community (in my opinion). Sadly I don’t think the News story even mentions that she lived here. July 7th would have been her 100th birthday. The Bakehouse is making a special decorated cake for the dinner to celebrate it. If I were writing I’d have done a whole piece about this great author who graced our town and interviewed people who knew her and her work and celebrate the centennial of her birth.

    – In planning the dinner Hanna and Catherine asked the RH to host. The dinner will honor some of the little known traditional foods of Kentucky and talk about how they were brought to this area with the migrations of the 30s and 40s. To state the obvious (to us) this is exactly the type of food we do here in the ZCoB so it’s a great fit a nice honor to be asked. All of the dishes on the menu were chosen to pay homage to Appalachian traditions and to the foods that Arnow wrote about in her history books and novels.

    – As part of the dinner David E. Davis, long time Ann Arbor resident, noted writer and founder of Automobile and Car &Driver magazines amongst many other achievements, will share stories about his aunt, who just happens to have been Harriette Arnow.

    Given all of that interesting stuff of substance, personally I kind of feel like focusing on Hanna and Catherine’s decision to use the term “Ypsitucky” is fairly silly in that, as you’ll see from their note below, it was actually a carefully considered, if (in hindsight) not great, decision. (Personally I’ve learned to value considered errors of “commission”-i.e. they thought about and took action-than of omission-as in, they didn’t do anything at all.)

    Note too that no one in the ZCoB used the term “Ypsitucky” in any way in related to the dinner, nor did we see the press release that included it (not that we need to approve it since it’s really their event, but just for clarity we didn’t know it was in there at all).

    Also note for your own spelling accuracy that the News spelled Arnow’s first name wrong-it’s actually Harriette, not “Harriet.”

    Lastly below is the note that Catherine and Hanna wrote in reference to this.

    Hanna’s gonna be interviewed about the dinner on Radio Free Bacon tomorrow sometime between 3 and 4 pm (on 107.1 as usual).

    Be happy to field questions or suggestions or whatever if they come up.

    Thanks to everyone for working on this dinner-personally I’m really excited about the event for all the reasons I’ve outlined above!

    See you all soon!


  7. Posted June 24, 2008 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    It’s easy to see both sides. Kind of like hearing “Hey faggots!” yelled in a crowd… a term of endearment or derision, depending on the source / context.

    When we moved to AA, we were surprised at the locals’ references to Southerners as dumbass racists (until they found out where we were from). Hearing the term Ypsitucky from them cemented our decision to move East, but the term is endearing otherwise. I’m not sure they completely thought our their naming plan in context, but it looked like a very interesting meal when a friend pointed it out last week.

  8. bumpkin
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I’d say leighton’s on the right track. Most northerners are so ingrained with the idea that southerners are stupid, that to refer to someone in a way that focusses on their southern origins is to imply that they’re stupid. So, the northerners who would like to think of themselves as not prejudiced against southerners (but are), don’t want to call southerners southerners, so the southerners don’t feel bad for being stupid southerners. That way, they (the northerners in the previous example) can stay arrogant and still feel like good people. In my humble opinion.

  9. Posted June 24, 2008 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    The people they are celebrating are not very likely to be able to ever afford a $75 dinner. And according to the ATF, isn’t moonshine illegal even today.

    Looks some people are not offended by the N work or calling a jew the K word. Just like some are not offended by Ypsitucky. But many more are. Especially given how many of those Kentuckians were treated and abused after they moved up here.

    But I am pretty sure if Hanna Raskin and Catherine Dann were planning a meal of traditional Jewish food and called it a Holocaust Dinner or tradiational black food as Slave Stew, the folks at Zingermann’s would have already canceled the dinner. Internal memo’s can’t un-ring the bell, Zingermann’s should have canceled the dinner once they found out how it was being advertised and the slur that was being used.

    This isn’t about being PC, this is about not being stupid. Raskin and Dann maybe well meaning idiots, but you can’t outlaw someone’s right to be stupid.

    So if you don’t like what they did don’t shop at Zingermann’s and don’t support Raskin and Dann. Vote with your feet and your dollar, it is the most powerful vote you have.

    I appreciate all that Zingermann’s has done for the community, but they are using a different standard that they would not accept if the attack aimed at someone who was Jewish or Black.

    – Steve

  10. Uhhh
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    I think you do a disservice to all African Americans, Steve, when you equate being called the “N” word with having your town called “Ypsitucky.” The two things are not even remotely the same.

  11. Brackache
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Steve, I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but I don’t know how to finish this sentence. That is the stupidest crap I have ever heard.

  12. brent
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to have to defend Steve a bit here. Yes, Having your town called Ypsitucky does refer to geography, but more narrowly it is a term to define the people who occupy that geography. While we may tongue in cheek embrace the term today, it’s roots are not positive ones.

    Using the term Ypsitucky to define the event is indeed problematic along the same lines Steve described. But instead of using Steve’s line of thinking along racial and religious lines, let’s exlore other area cities/towns to see similar inappropriateness.

    Certainly the term Fagdale for Ferndale equally oversimplifies and stereotypes the residents of the community and paints the gay community in very negative light by employing a charged word to describe what is a much more diverse community. The same is true for the term Ypsitucky.

    I’m trying to come up with something witty about how you can’t assume everyone in Troy has big beavers either, but it’s just not flowing today. What was meant to be insightful is coming off as rambling, so despite my better judgement I’ll just post what I have and go back to getting ready for Junk in your Trunk this weekend.

  13. aginghippie
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    My Gramma (from the bootheel of Missouri) and my Grampa (from Paducah, KY) came north (to Flat Rock, MI) for industrial jobs. During WWII, Gramma worked at the bomber plant. My Dad said she never learned to drive, but she was so good a car was sent for her.

    Post-war, she would (being a white witch) cast spells at night to rid us of warts, smoke Pall Malls while slugging down Strohs, and turned us grandkids on to Motor City Wrestling with Bobo Brazil.

    Anyhoo, as a third-generation hillbilly with roots down thar, I’m kinda proud of “Ypsitucky.” Took some guts to make a move like they did.

    Some people just aren’t happy unless they’re miserable–and making others equally so.

  14. Posted June 24, 2008 at 2:21 pm | Permalink


    You need to learn some of the history before you weigh in here. The Kentuckians and other Southerners that were brought up during the war were many times under despicable circumstances. Abuse, rape, kidnapping, thefts, extortion, and much more was all too prevalent. When they got here they got the worst jobs, often having to pay kick backs to employers, bosses, or flop house owners.

    Then in the earlier 50’s numerous local business leaders in the City made hateful and derogatory statements both in local newspapers, flyers, and in meetings about those Ypsituckians when there was talk about merging the township with the City.

    This was not a proud moment in our heritage and it sure as heck shouldn’t be celebrated in dinner held in Ann Arbor.

    Celebrate the people, celebrate the heritage, celebrate the food, but don’t celebrate the racism and stereotypes that also marked that sad period in our history

    – Steve

  15. Posted June 24, 2008 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    An Employee from Zingermann’s Roadhouse weighs in:

    epidemickittykat wrote:

    Well, let’s start with this. I’ve grown up in Southeast Michigan my entire life and along with that, I work at the Roadhouse. To be quite honest, terms like that are used all over the place here jokingly (by that I mean adding -tucky to the end of a city name), even by people that live in said cities. Along with that, the Roadhouse never mentioned that the dinner was the “Ypsitucky” dinner. Everyone needs to realize that a) this term was coined by the Culinary Tours program, not someone trying to belittle those who live in Ypsilanti and b)that the majority of people who live in Ypsi don’t even know the history of their own town…otherwise they wouldn’t get so offended.

    To be quite frank, this has become a controversial issue because the people from Ann Arbor and Ypsi don’t have much to complain about!

    Comments like this are usually followed by statement like “some of my best friends are … [insert black, gay, foreign, women or similar term here] …” or my favorite “We just use this as a term of friendship or it is just a friendly joke.”

    Somehow, I don’t think this is really helping smooth things over.


    – Steve

  16. Turner Tuckey
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Steve. Don’t worry. No doubt, someday soon, you’ll have your way and we’ll all be calling it Ypsiquerque.

  17. Backachetucky
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    As someone who is part wop, kraut, bog bunny, frog, and red savage, I strongly advise us all to get the fuck over this rediculous bullshit and grow up instead of getting all offended over every stupid little thing because we’re spoiled rich white northern Americans and don’t have to worry about people killing us. This is how control freaks manipulate people just by the merest accusation of insensitivity into having to prove their own innocence (which is impossible) or capitulate to their demands. Anyone who falls for Steve’s crap and gives a damn about these stupid accusations deserves to.

  18. Marion
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Looks like our most famous mountain maker has found another molehill.

    Steve, I think you should organize a series of protests. You can start with our hate-rock musicians and racist bloggers.

    Why is every time someone says, “This isn’t about being PC,” you know it’s going to be. I don’t want to say “I told you so…”

  19. egpenet
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    I’m So Glad I Live In Ypsituckey!

    I’m so glad I live in Ypsituckey.
    Makes my legs and arms git wiggly yucky.
    Wanna sing, wanna dance!
    I’m so glad it’s not in France!
    Ypsituckey is the Green Zone for me.
    Without the rockets.
    Ypsituckey is the Green Zone for me.
    Stevie, don’t kock it.
    Ypsituckey is the Green Zone …
    An Annie Arbor Free Zone …
    It’s my own Home Sweet Home Zone … to me!

  20. Posted June 24, 2008 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Ypstitucky’s really nowhere near the N word in our local, modern slur lexicon, and the situation probably deserves no more than an “I wouldn’t use that word”. But the history Steve alludes to is interesting.

    I wonder if there were any African-Americans included in the named group of Kentuckian “immigrants”? Henry Ford seemed to extract labor from any group he could find, even his least favorite: “Jews”.

  21. degutails
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    I’ve just never heard Ypsitucky used in a positive or endearing way by the friends that I have who were born here. It’s a put-down, pure and simple.


  22. Posted June 24, 2008 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    I always thought that when people use the term, “Ypsitucky”, they were not referring to what percentage of Ypsilantians are of Kentuckian heritage.

    I thought of the term as a way to imply that the poorer people in Ypsi are probably “hillbillies”, which is a generalization of Appalation people as ignorant, toothless barefoot folks, staggering and stinkin’ of moonshine from pappy’s still down yonder in the holler.

    I might be wrong about the term, “ypsitucky”, and whether it means there are lots of Kentuckians in Ypsi, or that much of Ypsi is considered poor, and therefore, they must be from Kentucky. I am certain, however, that it is a negative term. It is meant to be insulting.

    By the way, I have heard that this happens in other towns, too. (Ann Arbotucky?) Whichever part of the city seems poor, is referred to as a distinct region called “Where ever-tucky.

    and no,”hillbilly”, and “Ypsitucky” are not as bad as other terms, like the n-word, and other foul names people have called each other. But, can’t we try to avoid all levels of insulting name calling? Maybe if we refused to use “less important” negative stereotypes, the larger, more horrific names would be avoided all together.

    I spent my childhood summers in KY, with my “Mamaw” and other relatives, and yes, they were mostly “economically challenged”. I learned to walk way up the “holler” in the dark, on an 18 in. wide path on the side of a steep hill, with an even steeper drop off on my left to get to the outhouse. I drank cold water straight out of the well, and ate food my Mamaw had grown. (I did not eat the fried chicken, though. Seeing your grandmother wring a chicken’s neck and pluck it for dinner is sometimes off-putting.)

    On the other hand, I have relatives in KY who own huge houses, and planes and all sorts of high-price toys.

    By the way, TO ME, the hills of KY are every bit as beautiful and more soothing and peaceful than what I saw of the Alps, than the huge, majesty of the alps. The well water from “Ol’ Ida Gamble’s well across the creek” tasted much better, and was colder, than the “sparkling” water served tepid from the bottle, in Europe.

    Some of the state is desperately impoverished, and needs help, not insults.

    Excuse the length of this post. I tend to be a bit wordy.

  23. Posted June 24, 2008 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    I have to defend Steve. His point was that if the term Ypsitucky offends some people (which it obviously does), then it shouldn’t be used. I don’t understand how some people can get angry at other people that are offended by this.

    “Backachetuckey” – just by calling yourself derogatory words and you yourself not feeling offended has no relevance on how others might feel. In fact, it is this attitude that makes issues like this worse.

    I’m personally not offended when I hear this. But what it means to, say Mark, and what it means to someone else might be completely different. And the thing is, this was used publicly – which takes on a whole different aspect than it being said among friends.

    And let’s be real here – we’ve all heard the term, and like degutails said, there’s always a negative connotation associated when it’s said.

    How hard is it to respect that some people may be offended?

  24. egpenet
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Firesign Theater’s classic spoof on “The Hillbillies” is fabulous and worth a listen, if you can dig it up somewhere.

    We’re all hillbillies on this bus.

    Sticks and stones …

  25. Posted June 24, 2008 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    I’ll look for it the next time I’m in the shop eg :)

  26. what???
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    As Steve said, had we decide to do a “K” dinner or an “N” dinner at Frenchie’s, everyone would have been up and arms. This Ypsitucky garbage is just one more way for Ann Arbor to put down its neighbor the the east–no matter what Brenda Stumbo thinks.

  27. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Along with what Leighton was saying…

    Hippie, yuppie, queer, redneck, stoner, geek … all can be insults, benign, or a point of pride.

    Meredith, language is never “plain and simple.”

    “Hey, beautiful,” can be an insult if said with sarcasm. Intent, far more than the word, is what makes something derogatory.

    For me, the question is whether these folk were trying to be flip or demeaning by using the “Y-T” word or if they were pointing out our local connection to the food and culture they’re honoring.

    However, in calling them “stupid” and “idiots,” I think Steve made his intent fairly clear.

  28. egpenet
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    Too bad Cousin George passed away last week … he could have added the “tucky” word to his list of words you can’t say on television.

    Try an experiment. It worked for me …

    Close your eyes, click your heels together and repeat: “There’s no place like home.” You’ll end up in Ypsitucky. I did. And I glad of it.

  29. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    I take offense to the word “offended” because it coincidentally brings up painful memories of my ancestors who were all killed by pirates.

    “Post-war, she would (being a white witch) cast spells at night to rid us of warts, smoke Pall Malls while slugging down Strohs, and turned us grandkids on to Motor City Wrestling with Bobo Brazil.”

    Wow, that’s a cool sentence. Rock on.

  30. mark
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Steve, this may be a bit off topic, as it doesn’t relate to whether or not the word “Ypsitucky” is offensive, but you mention kidnapping. Are you suggesting that people were brought against their will to work in Ypsilanti during the war?

  31. Cole Slauss
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Somebody needs to purge that disgusting term from Wikipedia.

    (Or, at least take out the part about some people being proud of the Kentucky heritage while others are seem to be more ashamed of it than a parson in pulpit with his pants down.)

  32. mark
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    And, for what it’s worth, while I sympathize with folks who feel bad when they hear the term “Ypsitucky,” I think it’s quite a reach to suggest that it belongs with the “n”

  33. Brackachetucky
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Firstly, I have yet to hear of a single Ypsituckian who is offended by this. Not that there aren’t any, I just haven’t seen evidence of it yet. Perhaps they’re too busy shooting blunderbi at each other and dueling with banjos to stick up for themselves.

    Secondly, the British sang the tune Yankee Doodle to deeply insult the comparatively rustic Colonists, who responded not with hurt feelings but by adopting the tune themselves and taking pride in it. That’s how I see the term “Ypsitucky.” As a banjo-picking former farmboy, I see Southern culture as something to take pride in and admire. (go ahead and find fault with my implication of what Southern culture is, I don’t care).

    Thirdly, I am deeply offended that some people believe that I am not perfectly capable of governing myself as I see fit, without government intervention. I am insulted that my charitable contribution to society is taken from me against my will before I even had a chance to offer it. I am hurt to be accused of greed preemptively. I am not kidding, this is how I really feel.

    No one cares.

    My adaptation to no one caring and having no real recourse to change widespread public opinion is to stop tucking my peener in between my buttcheeks, and just plain stop caring about what other people think of me… even in an atmosphere of enforced legislation that I find inherantly demeaning to my dignity. I know I am worthy of full respect, despite my shortcomings and spelling errors, and if some people don’t respect me in some way, their opinions of me don’t matter because they are based on ignorance and/or conceit.

    You can’t put your self-esteem in the hands of every single person around you and succeed. You have to do it yourself. Stop getting offended over name-calling, intentional or otherwise, you pussies. Or if you really are, step up and do something about it yourself instead of relying on power-grabbing would-be referees to intervene on your behalf for their own aggrandizement.

    I’ll give this little PSA to your schoolkids for $100, but it requires me hitting them upside the head with a rolled-up New Yorker periodically.

    And don’t even think of telling me that Ypsituckians can’t step up and defend themselves, because they damn well can.

  34. egpenet
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    What would Noah Webster do here … ?

    Ypsilantians … people born in Ypsilanti, now living here or elsewhere on the planet.

    Ypsiganders … people born in Michigan, now living in Ypsilanti.

    Ypsi(add your state here … ie. -tuckians, -gonians, -tonians, -idians … people born in some other state, who now reside in Ypsilanti.

    … feel free …

  35. Posted June 24, 2008 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    I think that all this discussion lends itself quite well to busting up stereotypes and bringing out to the forefront of people’s conversations will break down stereotypes, IMO.

    But I’m also of the mind that pissing people off is a great way to get people talking- offensive or not it helps every side look at things differently.

  36. egpenet
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    And regarding factory “slaves” …

    People were always promised one thing and delivered into some form of servitude.

    It IS a fact that coal mining companies did just that for a long time until the government stepped in. Actually, the police and the army were used to keep miners in tow, until a few local rebellions got out of hand and the mine owners had to back off.

    But the car factories dragging folks up here? No record of that that I could Google.

  37. Andy C
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    “Ypsitucky” is in there with “Shorty” or “Stumpy” and many other hobo names. Not pleasant but they do stick.

  38. Mark H.
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    In one of his posts above, my friend Steve asserts the following:

    “The Kentuckians and other Southerners that were brought up during the war were many times under despicable circumstances. Abuse, rape, kidnapping, thefts, extortion, and much more was all too prevalent. When they got here they got the worst jobs, often having to pay kick backs to employers, bosses, or flop house owners.”

    As an historian, I am curious to know what Steve bases these claims on — I certainly agree that there was (and is!) brutal exploitation of labor in many industrial areas. But were Appalachians more particularly likely to be victimized by “Abuse, rape, kidnaping, thefts, extortion…” than other groups of migrant or immigrant labor? Not that I know of. The Appalachian migrants — and that is what Ypsitucky refers to, rather than to all southerners or just to people from Kentucky — were among the last groups to enter Michigan’s industrial labor force in large numbers, and they did so at the bomber plant, rather famously. Yet the fact is that they came to Michigan as voluntary migrants, and they earned more here by far than they could back home….Life was better in Michigan: People from Kentucky weren’t kidnapped as a means of recruiting them to indusrial labor in Michigan factories, although Steve’s comment seems almost to imply as much. In point of historical fact, of course, people from Appalachia were smart folks and millions of them moved to industrial areas of the Midwest for the same reasons millions of people from around the world did in the 20th century: The move improved the quality of their lives. And they brought their culture with them. But in the area just east of Ypsilanti, the Appalachians were one of the largest, if not the largest, identifiable social group, and they populated an area that had just recently been farmland: So they did make up a notable social group.

    This isn’t too say that Kentuckians weren’t derided or exploited They were. All groups of poor workers are derided and exploited, and that is deplorable. But none of the put down terms for Appalachians even enter the same galaxy of hatefulness as the N-word. The N-word originated as a means of dehumanizing a people who were violently kidnapped, removed from their homelands against their will, and brought to a foreign land to labor as slaves. That experience is hardly similar to that of voluntary migrants who moved to improve their quality of life.

    And for what it’s worth, lots of the Appalachian kids I knew as a child in another Midwest industrial town did call themselves “hillbillies” and that term is close to Ypsituckey. And not that I use that word myself.

    Ypsituckey doesn’t mean all of Ypsi — just the east side and Willow Run areas, where so many of the Appalachian workers who came to work at the bomber plant and postwar auto jobs settled. This identifiable Appalachian ethnic presence should be called what it is, Appalachian, not diminished of its cultural distinctiveness by terming it “southern”. And didn’t the novelist, author of the great “THE DOLLMAKERS” live in this area?

    West Virginia had more young men go to Vietnam, purportionate to its population, than any other state in the union, and that’s a pretty close measure of poverty. Kentuckey and W.Virginia are still among the poorest states.

    And hey Steve — if you could clarify what you were referring to, I’d appreciate it. I think we’re in agreement on the need to honor all people’s heritage. But what’s distinctive about Michigan’s Appalachian heritage has, to my knowledge, little to do with kidnapping. People from all over the world came to Michigan because they thought life here would be better than back home; and those choices were smart.

  39. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    “. . . just one more way for Ann Arbor to put down its neighbor the the east. . .”

    Ann Arbor sees your offense and raises you an offense taken at that generalization (I’m not serious–but this accusation might follow based on your logic).

    If offense isn’t obvious and is obviously not intended, then why make a case for it? Just because one can?

    I once remarked to a fellow teacher that it was a shame that kids were using the word “gay” to describe things that weren’t cool, as they are being derogatory towards gay people. When I was a kid, I told the teacher, we used the word “lame.” He pointed out that lame can be derogatory towards handicapped people. And I thought, “oh.”

    Jeez (and a Christian takes offense at my blending of “cheeze” and “Jesus.” What’s that? That’s not it at all? Through some scholarly research, you have determined that “jeez” is a derogatory term used by Netherlander peasants to dehumanize Viking invaders as the monstrous, raping and pillaging rogues that they were? All Vikings past and present take offense. . .), George Carlin just died, and he’s already spinning.

    When asked if we will ever have fascism in the United States, Huey Long replied, “Yes, but we will call it anti-fascism.”

    It took me a couple of years of marriage to learn that winning an argument is not always winning because the feelings that lie beneath the argument linger. People can’t always reason away emotions. I’ve learned that those emotions are what need to be addressed. So, if people are truly feeling harmed by the use of “Ypsitucky,” then I would consider separating it from the event in question. How many people would it have to be? I don’t know. If just one person is offended, should it be changed? That’s a weird notion, trying to figure out where to draw the line.

    Still, I have read several posts on this thread where people claimed that others are or might be offended by the term. Is this a case of assumption? Some people are speaking for others? Does anybody here, personally, take offense at the term? Do you know of any person who is for sure offended by the term? Shouldn’t we verify that someone is actually offended by the term before we start this train?

  40. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Whoops. Brackachetucky previously made that last point (took me a while to write it).

  41. egpenet
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    The author of The Dollmaker lived in Ann Arbor until her death, which I believe was recent. David E. Davis, Car & Driver/Automobile, is her nephew or cousin. I think Ari mentioned that above in his post.

  42. jean
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m interested that no one in this thread has taken issue with the Ann Arbor News’ decision to use ‘Ypsitucky’ in a front page headline. While the culinary tours dinner at Roadhouse used the term, however naively, in an effort to promote and celebrate Appalachian and Midwestern traditions that have been overlooked and often dismissed, the Ann Arbor News capitalized on the attention-grabbing term in a front page headline in order to sell papers. Am I the only one who finds the News’ sudden sensitivity to Ypsi concerns notable?

  43. mark
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Mark…. It’s always good to have a history professor in the audience.

    And thanks to everyone else who has contributed thus far. This is my favorite thread in months and months.

  44. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Jean raises a good point. I’m guessing most of us first learned about this hotbed from the A2 News story. I realize news folks would sooner take a jail cell than release sources, but the story never mentions where the hubbub was brewing. I don’t recall walking through town hearing folks muttering, “Can you believe Zingerman’s is using the Y-K word”?!

    Seriously, does anyone have any idea who or where the controversy started?

    Who called the A2 News and told them they we were offended?

  45. Posted June 24, 2008 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    If Ypsitucky is a reference to Willow Run or Eastern Ypsilanti, then why use “Ypsitucky.”

    When ever someone wants to use the word Y-T, they should just stop and not. Be specific about what or who is being referred to: If you’re talking about Willow Run, say so.

    Y-T has no useful value as a word.

    I have NEVER heard the word used in a positive light. The AA News article was the first time (in 16 years of living here) I’ve ever heard it insinuated that the word refers positively to someone’s heritage. Every time I’ve heard it used, it has had a veiled negative conotation.

    I’d venture that 95% of the people who use the term never knew the positive association of the spin that the AA news put on it.

  46. Zingerlieber
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Who called the A2 News and told them they we were offended?

    All the other loser businesses in Kerrytown and Downtown are jealous of Zingerman’s because Z is so successful. Any one of them could have planted this story through an intermediary. It’s the old “let’s you and him fight” game.

  47. egpenet
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    I love this town. And I truly admire the whole Willow Run story and how an entire community was built from the dirt up. There’s a great out-of-print book entitled, The Willow Run Story, published by the U-M Press. Fabulous story!

    We have a GREAT story to tell … one that INCLUDES all of us and the Y-K’ers, especially.

    Goota do the Carlin thang, folks, say it ten times fast … and get OVER it. It’s OK. Take the tension out of this thing, let the chips fall off your shoulders … sticks and stones, and all that.

    Someone calls us Ypsituckers, say, “Oh, yah, well your momma breathes through her mouth!”

    “Snap” back and play the game like it should be played. And eat your greeens, they’re good for you!


  48. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Just be sure to get your greens at Biggies, downtown, across from the Vu.

    (Wash it down with some fried chix and don’t forget to try the mac and cheese.)

  49. Stella
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    While one has the right to say “that offends me”, no one has the right to never be offered offense.

  50. Ray
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    :All the other loser businesses in Kerrytown and Downtown are jealous of Zingerman’s because Z is so successful.:

    so true, Borders was always a target too

  51. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    A few years ago, someone working for the company told me that Kentucky Fried Chicken was changing its name to KFC because two out of three words had negative connotations for most Americans. (Hint: it wasn’t “chicken.”)

    I happen to like all three.

    Even if Kentucky is a pejorative term for various yuppies and Yanks, why do we have to accept it as one?

    Isn’t objecting to it, well, really rather bourgeoisie?

  52. Posted June 25, 2008 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    I agree, OEC. So when we hear someone use the term, and it’s not clear from the context that they are using the term to make a positive reference, we should stop them and question what they mean by using it. Then if they are not aware of the historically positive origin, we should educate them on the spot and ask them to never use it negatively again.

  53. egpenet
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    It’s called branding.

    Too many letters in Kentucky Fried Chicken.

    Put that on a lapel button, hat or T-shirt. KFC is a better bet and more possibilities with graphics, etc. AND … it says the same thing! Kentucky Fried Chicken.

    BTW … the Colonel wasn’t from Kentucky. And there’s no such thing down there. As Marlene said, Mamaw wrings the neck, plucks it and tosses it in the pot.

    There’s little romance in Kentucky Boiled/Steamed/Fricaseed, etc. chicken … too many letters. Too impersonal. KFC sort’a drips off the tongue … and EVERYBODY knows what it means.

    Do the Colonel proud … and honor the one franchise we have in the City limits that honored our HDC and building restrictions and built a beautiful building and kept the signage down to a dull roar … so, buy some KFC this week … YUM!

  54. Marion
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    If anyone missed it, I think Bracheacketucky has just redefined Ypsitucky:

    “My adaptation to no one caring and having no real recourse to change widespread public opinion is to stop tucking my peener in between my buttcheeks…”

    In a couple years the bullies at Huron and Pioneer will be saying, “You should of seen it! I called him a ‘B’ student and he ran off crying with his penis between his buttocks like a fucking Ypsituckian!”

    And Zingerman’s will name a delicious natural casing smoked sausage in a bun after it. And everyone will eat it up.

  55. Posted June 25, 2008 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    But let’s boil this down — either Mark’s favorite journalist and personal Boswell is guilty of sensationalizing and/or accepting fed negative stories from all those bitter loser businesses in Ann Arbor OR Mark’s new conceptual buddies at Zingerman’s are guilty of gross insensitivity…Torn between two lovers? Feelin’ like a fool?

  56. Ray
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    does zinger’s advertise in aa news?

    do reporters get comped at z’s?

  57. Andy C
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    In short, if you live in Ypsilanti use ithe term “Ypsitucky” all you want. It’s your town you can call it what you want. It’s fine for an Ypsi band to call themselves “The Ypsitucky Colonels” or a Ypsi blogger to call their blog “My Life in Hipsitucky”. But… If your NOT from Ypsilanti, leave it alone! You might get punched.

    I can call myself stupid but you shouldn’t. I think this has been eluded to a few times here but I figured I’d just spell it out one last time.

  58. Posted June 25, 2008 at 9:59 am | Permalink


  59. Posted June 25, 2008 at 10:01 am | Permalink


  60. Ray
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    :… If your NOT from Ypsilanti, leave it alone! You might get punched.:

    i was hoping i would get “deliverance”d (got a soft spot for rough trade)

  61. Brackachetucky
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Stinkin’ control-freak Ypsiyorkers thinkin’ they’re all better than everyone else and moralizing all the time like a bunch a school marms. P-tooie.

  62. camel
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    There are other cities in Michigan that residents add -tucky to the end of the name. “Watertucky” for Waterford or Hollytucky for Holly. I’m sure there are more as well.

  63. Ghost of a Shoe
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    It is fascinating to watch people latch onto ridiculous issues and ride them as long as they can for political gain. Some people have a nose for these opportunities. Al Sharpton being one. Unwilling or unable to do constructive work in the communities they’re in, they lurk at the edges waiting for opportunities to swoop in as ‘champions of the people’.

  64. elviscostello
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    As a native son of the East Side of Ypsilanti (Ecorse Rd, George School, Ypsi National Little League, Beyer Baby), the posting about Ypsitucky really referring to the East Side and West Willow was on the mark, although they missed the “Village” area of Holmes and Clark. Our parents mostly worked for Ford’s and GM, while the west side kids had the EMU prof’s, teachers, etc… There was a hierarchy in town, and at school, based on your geographic location. My family came from Alabama and Missouri for jobs, what does that make me? Ypsibama or Missourilanti?
    The Ypsi City fathers saw the influx of Southerners as increasing crime and bringing down the culture of Ypsilanti, and wanted nothing to do with the “hillbillies” who moved up here. There’s another good book I read about a murder of a U of M nurse, by three Ypsilanti teens, written by a Psychologist, who addresses the stresses betwen those who were here first, and those who transplanted. I’ll post the title if I can remember it.
    My dad’s family moved into the “Willow Run Village” tar paper homes, at the end of their usability. He said the floors were thin, and so were the walls, but that was all they had.

  65. elviscostello
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    The book is “Why Did They Kill?”, by John Bartlow Martin. You can find copies pretty cheap on The kids were Bill Morey, Max Pell and Dave Royal, who all lived in Ypsilanti…

  66. Where Did Steve Go?
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    I want to hear his response to Mark H.

  67. Versificatucky
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Well here we are, ladies and gentlemen
    The dream we all dream of (oh, please!)
    Boy versus girl in the world series of love

    U walked in (I walked in)
    I woke up (U woke up)
    I never seen a pretty girl look so Ypsitucky baby (baby)
    U got that look, yes U do (yes U do)
    Color U peach and black
    Color me takin’ aback, baby
    Crucial, I think I wantcha

    You’ve got the look, you’ve got the hook
    U sho’nuf do be cookin’ in my book
    Your face is jammin’
    Your body’s heck-a-slammin’
    If your love is good, let’s get 2 rammin’ (now)
    U got the look, U got the look

  68. Oliva
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Reading these many posts, I can’t help thinking about a woman I met in line at the downtown P.O. about six or seven years ago. She had moved up from Mississippi to work at the Ford plant and told about some of the women she worked with who had a second job out in the parking lot during lunch break. She did not approve at all, was shocked by it. It was a rich conversation that day at the P.O.

    The Kentucky/Appalachian label ignores all the other places we’ve come from, en masse or otherwise. The woman told me a lot of people at the plant came from Deep South states like she did. Maybe it was a later wave . . .

    Ypsitucky is a goofy-sounding word and a goofy word beyond its sound. And it’s true that -tucky gets slapped onto town names as a quick way to poke fun at a place. (What about Ypsissippi? Ypsibama? [yes, elviscostello!] Ypsiarbor!) For some reason, even if it’s a put-down, it doesn’t jar terribly (if it’s hurtful to anyone, that’s worth knowing). Maybe it feels worse when wielded by Ann Arbor businesses or media? That or sort of funny.

    I like “Down Riviera” for “Downriver Area.” Oh, and Detroit being “Detroit Barack City.”

  69. Y[K]FC Bender
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Those snobby Arborites act as if there are Ypsi people who plan to kill, skin, and eat groudhogs as a neighborhood project in sustainahillbility for Pete’s sake.

  70. Vera
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    As a person born and raised in “The Run” during the 70’s and 80’s, I have no objections to anyone calling it Ypsitucky. We used that term about ourselves with pride on a regular basis. Every year on the first day of school, 95% of the “What I Did This Summer” stories started with, “I went to visit my grammaw in (fill in southern state).” This included all races. No one was ashamed of this origin. Almost everyone had family in the factories and they got paid well during that time. As the daughter of a public school teacher, I was the poor kid in the neighborhood.

    I have heard Ypsilanti, itself, Ypsi, or “local” used in a derogatory tone of voice way more often than I have ever heard Ypsitucky used that way.

  71. Posted June 25, 2008 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    I just came from the Beer Cooler. A car pulls up at the stop sign, window rolls down and the driver yells out, “Hey nigger, how are you.”

    I turn and he is talking to another African-American man about half my age walking into the store. “Hey”, he screams back.

    No anger, it seemed to be a term of endearment, just two men talking to each other, apparently friends.

    So by that observation, does it mean you can use the word nigger when saying hi to another black man. I mean, geez, you hear it out on the streets of Ypsilanti.

    Come down to my neighborhood, give it a try, let me know how it works out for you.

    Ypsitucky is offensive and it should have never been used to promote a $75 dinner at Zingermans Roadhouse in Ann Arbor. The promoters should have said oops, removed the term from their website and press release and moved on with what we hope will be a successful event.

    There is a story in the Toledo Blade promoting the dinner. Which by the way, that was how at least one person at the News found out about the Ypsitucky angle, it was in the Toledo paper. Shocking the ‘Snuz would scrounge story ideas from other news sites.

    We shouldn’t be promoting Ypsitucky in Toledo or any other community. It doesn’t help anyone and only serves to further the stereotypes and bigotry we are trying to overcome.


    – Steve

  72. Mike doesn't have a clever name
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 6:39 pm | Permalink


    Can you actually name someone that moved up from the South during “the run” that is offended by this? And will you please defend your claim that “[a]buse, rape, kidnapping, thefts, extortion, and much more was all too prevalent,” because, frankly, it sounds like bullshit.

  73. Brackachetucky
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Steve — no one elected you to represent the imaginary Ypsituckians who are secretly upset about this, most everyone here disagrees with you, and you have no power to make anybody do anything they don’t want to do.


    – Brackachetucky

  74. Robert
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    Instead of annexing the township, maybe the City of Ypsilanti should try to annex the entire State of Kentucky. It would definitely improve the city’s home-cookin’ recipe statistics.

  75. Mark H.
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    Migrants from Appalachia to the north were overwhelmingly white; Appalachia has relatively few Black residents (those hill country areas were not good plantation land). But of course lots and lots of African Americans migrated to the north since 1915 from other areas of the South.

    And thanks elviscostello for your righteous memories. Yeah, the Village area, i forgot that. As a kid, my Indianapolis neigborhood included “Indiatuckians” and lots of jokes, some funny, some cruel, about Appalachia.

    And Appalachia is a huge swatch of territory – it includes SE Ohio, much of Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, as well as parts of Virginia and North Carolina, Georgia and a bit of Alabama. Not all of any of these states, but huge pieces. If I recall, since 1940 over 10 million people left Appalachia. So you can be from NE Alabama and be Appalachian and hence fit the real meaning of the ‘ypsituckian’ label. Not that i encourage using that term, but it has been used both self-descriptively and pejoratively.

    How’s this for an idea: interested readers of can get hold of the novel “The Dollmaker” and we read it, and then meet at the Corner late this summer to discuss it and to drink? Maybe a tech person can podcast it.

    And if you don’t wanna read the book, get the made for TV movie starring Jane Fonda. No doubt the Appalachian people in Michigan were often mistreated; capitalism tends to mistreat labor. And for a bit of cinema realism on Applachian coal miners’ strikes, see the great film of John Sayles, “Matewan.” Long live the freedom struggles of the Appalachia people! Down with the coal operators and all the corrupt double dealers everywhere!

    To tie this tread to others, i should mention that Robert F. Kennedy, as part of his political awakening in the late 1960s, made a remarkable trip thru Appalachia, Still remembered there now. He was investigating poverty. It is the poorest region in the land.

  76. egpenet
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Vera, for your affirmations.

    We are proud in Ypsi for our heritage and local preservation efforts. ‘The Run’ has a great history, more recent, but well worth documenting and studying. The book I mentioned: The Story of Willow Run, U-M Press, did not have a lot of cultural depth … but it framed the remarkable nature of the area.

    Time now for someone to fill in the blanks with names, dates, anecdotes, family histories, and the like.

  77. egpenet
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    Oh, my city has a real name …
    Ypsilanti, Michigan.
    And my city has a nickname, too …
    Ypsitucky, just for fun.
    We have hist’ry, arts and culchure
    based on family, church and labor.
    Come and walk our streets,
    Shop our stores, taste our eats,
    In Ypsi-l-a-n-t-i.

  78. egpenet
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    I’m So Glad I Live In Ypsitucky!

    I’m so glad I live in Ypsitucky.
    Makes my arms and legs git wiggly yucky.
    Wanna sing, wanna dance!
    I’m so glad it’s not in France!
    Ypsitucky is the Green Zone for me.
    Without the rockets.
    Ypsitucky is the Green Zone for me.
    Stevie, don’t knock it.
    Ypsitucky is the Green Zone …
    An Annie Arbor Free Zone …
    It’s my own Home Sweet Home Zone … to me!

    I’m so glad I live in Ypsitucky!
    Come to think on it, I’m kind’a lucky.
    Got my family, got good friends.
    Here the weekend never ends.
    Ypsitucky is the Green Zone for me.
    I’ve got my downtown …
    Ypsitucky is the Green Zone for me.
    … for fun long after sundown.
    Ypsitucky is the Green Zone …
    My Annie Arbor Free Zone …
    It’s my own Home Sweet Home Zone … to me!

  79. mark
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Against my better judgement, I’ll respond to your repeated jabs, Ubu… I realize that, in your fantasy world, this is a big deal…. This “Ann Arbor News” article, if I’m following your paranoid logic, puts me in a vulnerable place, right between my expensive sandwich making masters, and the puppet media I’ve constructed. Is that the gist of it?

    OK, let’s talk about Jordan Miller first. As the “Ann Arbor News” reporter tasked with covering Ypsi, it’s her job to write about things going on here. You’ve made it clear on several occasions that you’re pissed she covers my projects here in Ypsi while the things you’re doing in Ann Arbor go uncovered. I’m sorry about that. I really am. Your independent bookstore is a valuable asset to Ann Arbor, and it deserves coverage, as does the Kerrytown Book Fair, which you help to pull off each year. As I’ve explained to you several times, however, you’re misguided when you suggest that Jordan is the problem. If she wasn’t covering something that I’m involved with, like the Shadow Art Fair, she’d be covering something else here in the City. And, truth is, she doesn’t cover a lot of what I do. So far, she hasn’t, for instance, covered my Ypsi Cycle Cinema project. And, as far as I know, she didn’t even come out to support the big Severed Unicorn Head art show. I know it bothers the hell out of you every time you see a mention of the Shadow Art Fair, but it really is a good event, worthy of coverage. It seems to me that the Ann Arbor Art Fairs always get coverage in the “News,” so why’s it so unacceptable to have our successful Ypsi version covered. If you came to one, maybe you’d see why Jordan feels like writing about it. It’s a damned good event.

    As for her story on “Ypsitucky,” I don’t think it was bad. She, from what I recall, gave both sides of the story. My main issue with the piece was the title and the placement of the article, though, neither of which she probably had any say over. So, no, I’m not mad at Jordan. I am, however, curious as to how the whole thing came to her attention. From the article, you might get the sense that a lot of people in town care about this. Truth is, I don’t think that’s the case. Aside from Steve and Lois, I don’t know anyone who’s upset. Sure, a few people here said that they don’t like it, but I don’t think they would have picked up the phone and called the “Ann Arbor News” about it… Anyway, I’m not pissed at Jordan.

    As for Zingerman’s, I think I’ve been fairly straight-forward about what I think of them. I think that their presence in Ypsi would be good for the community. They, through their constellation of businesses, already employ over 500 people, approximately half of whom live in Ypsi. Sure, for the most part, they aren’t high-wage jobs, but they pay better than most food service jobs do, and the company has a decent reputation for training its people and providing opportunities for them to grow, start their own ventures under the Zingerman’s umbrella, etc. Are they “the perfect company”? No. But, I’m convinced that their presence in Ypsi would be a good thing, and I’m dedicated to seeing that happen, regardless of whether or not a group they’re associated with uses the term “Ypsitucky.” We need jobs in downtown Ypsi. We need locally owed companies that know how to do retail well. We need destination businesses that pull people from the surrounding area. We need companies who care about their communities and put their money where their mouths are.

    And, as I said, I don’t care about the term “Ypsitucky.” Maybe, as I said, it’s because I’m from Kentucky, or maybe it’s just because I didn’t undergo the hardships of my predecisors, but I don’t register one bit of anger when I hear the term used. There are other things that I care about much more, like the state of our public schools, the drug epidemic, and the loans coming due on Water Street. I don’t think we have the luxury to sit back and wring our hands over what could have been considered an insult in generations past.

    So, no, I’m not really caught between the two, Ubu, and it wouldn’t matter to me if I was. If I thought that either Jordan, or the folks at Zingerman’s acted inappropriately, I’d say so.

  80. mark
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    And I like the idea for an Ypsi conference on our Appalachian ancestry, Mark. Great idea. I’ll post something about it on the front page shortly.

  81. L
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    expensive sandwich making masters,

    MMMMmmmmmmmmm I am here to serve.

  82. S.
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I grew up in Kentucky and moved to this area 10 years ago (I was not kidnapped) and my entire family still lives there. I feel a little offended about this discussion, enough to actually comment on this page for the first time in 3 years. My offense is related to the stereotypes being thrown around in a broader sense. When I moved to Ann Arbor on the Old West Side, where the pretension sucks all the fun out of life, people actually said to me, “so how do you like the big city?” or “it must be nice to have access to some culture for a change”. What the ??? I lived in metro Louisville with a population of about 500,000, a vibrant arts and music scene, fabulous restaurants and lots of them (the man who rented my house cooked at the James Beard House), and major universities and hospitals. My cousins do not marry each other. We wear shoes when shoes are appropriate. We get educated and lead productive lives. Kentucky is more than coal mines and fried chicken. And frankly, why even bother to stereotype anymore? People are more transient and diverse than ever, so does it even make sense?

    I lived in Ypsi briefly, on Huron Street. I liked it so much more than Ann Arbor because the people in Ypsi were much more like the people you’d meet in Kentucky–friendlier, compassionate, and passionate. I’m glad to know that Ypsi folks aren’t offended by the nickname. It’s more derogatory to Kentuckians than Ypsi-ians anyway, because it was clearly meant to be a slam on the culture. I can only imagine that Kentuckians made Ypsi a nicer place to live.

    As for the Ypsitucky supper, if the game bird being served is pheasant or quail, I rub my hillbilly belly and say yummy. I’ve never heard of scuppernong wine so I’ll have a Makers instead.

  83. Frosty
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure what your point is, Steve. Are you saying that the n-word isn’t offensive, but that the y-word is? And what’s all this nonsense about kidnappings?

  84. Think Visual
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    I’m not really a words gal so this is the first time I’v written in.I just want to say that Jordan Miller is fair and that the SHadow Art Fair is a very good and fun event.Why do people have to carp instead of doing something.

  85. Mike doesn't have a clever name
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I think S. makes a great point. My parents are both from Tennessee and West Virginia, and I still have a lot of family in Georgia (not quite Appalachia) and visit there quite often. We were down there a couple of weeks ago, and like ever other time, we seriously considered not coming back. I love walking down the street and having people make eye contact and say hello. It doesn’t happen as much in Ypsi, but a hell of a lot more than Ann Arbor. If we could get more people to move up from the South and the Apps, I’d be all for it. So let’s keep saying Ypsitucky, and say it proudly, knowing that it means that we’re friendly and humble people.

    And Mark H., I am enjoying your history lesson, but I have one quibble. You say “capitalism tends to mistreat labor.” I would just like to point out that if we define capitalism (I prefer the phrase “free market”) as voluntary exchange and non-aggression, we should probably not present state sanctioned violence against workers, or a state run private-public war machine, as capitalism.

  86. Mark H.
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Two quick comments from the unofficial historian/commentator of (if I can so dub myself).

    First, any name that is used hurtfully is, ah, hurtful. If not so used, i don’t personally object. Most of the folks i’ve heard say “ypsituckey” are EMU students who self-identify their families as coming from that heritage, and they aren’t using it derogatorily, but descriptive. But they are also well aware of the stereotype that Appalachians are poor and ignorant.

    Second, to Mike who is clever I am sure: I don’t think your idea of how we should define “capitalism” is historically viable. And “free market” is an ideological notion, not a meaningful historical term. There are markets, of course, and I respect them; but I don’t think there’s a serious case to be made that capitalism has ever, or does now, exist in an actual “free market”. Capitalism always had depended on state power for a variety of things. And as for mistreating Appalachian workers: let’s be clear, the state was a secondary force in that long, bloody history of violence and repression; the mistreatment arose from employeers’ desire to exploit labor and to halt unionization drives. Blaming government for mistreating Appalachian labor is like blaming the US government for slavery: sure, the govt. supported slavery, but slavery in what’s now the U.S. predated the US government and its key features were not determined by nor dependent on the US government. The masters of slaves, like the employers of coal miners, had plenty of motives to act violently and exploitatively. And the market rewarded both sets of behavior — until government acted to restrain or redefine the market. Long live the freedom struggles of the exploited masses of Appalachia and Michigan! Long may their memories be cherished and honored.

    In Chicago, in the late 1960s, there was an upsurge of poitical consciousness and organizing among the Appalachian neigborhood (famous but i can’t recall its name at the moment), as a kind of reaction to the inspiring changes brought about by the civil rights movement. An affirmation of Appalachian cultural heritage and an attack on stereotyping and exploitation on the job. The Rev. Iberius Hacker was one of the leaders. Might well have been something comparable in the Ypsituckety area! May be a good topic for a serious research project.

    guess i wasn’t so quick here. bad prof’s habit – get me talking about history and i go for 50 minutes.

  87. Posted June 26, 2008 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    As someone who grew up in downtown Lexington (KY), I heartily agree with everything S. wrote. I moved here – also voluntarily – about 7 seven years ago, and although I’ve lived as a renter in both Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, when my wife and I decided it was time to buy a house, there was no doubt in either of our minds that we’d rather settle in Ypsilanti.

  88. amused1
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Personally, I’m surprised no one’s tried to place some sort of blame on the Mayor, City Council and/or the City Manager for this.

    C’mon, someone must believe they took part in some sort of back room conspiracy with Zings and the Snooze to keep Ypsi down. At the very least I would have expected someone to say they were disappointed that the current “residents” of City Hall weren’t taking time from trying to salvage the city to take notice of this deeply important issue.

    As for rape, kidnapping, extortion, etc. I seem to recall about 12 or more years ago an “oriental massage parlor” in downtown Ann Arbor got busted for just such behaviors. Maybe that’s where the idea came from?

  89. Phillis
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Websters defines a demagogue as “a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power”.

  90. Mike doesn't have a clever name
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Mark H.:

    I don’t think your idea of how we should define “capitalism” is historically viable.

    In that respect, we should say that the definition of “liberty” used by the writers of the Declaration of Independence, or “habeas corpus” used by the writers of the Magna Carta was not historically viable. I would argue that the fact that we have not yet attained a free society is no reason to abandon the cause.

    [B]ut I don’t think there’s a serious case to be made that capitalism has ever, or does now, exist in an actual “free market”.

    Absolutely. But we’re working on it.

    [S]lavery in what’s now the U.S. predated the US government and its key features were not determined by nor dependent on the US government.

    No need to stop at the US gov’t. I’ll happily join you in criticizing the European states that either directly funded the slave trade, or gave state granted monopolies to industry players that did.

    [T]he mistreatment arose from employeers’ desire to exploit labor and to halt unionization drives. Blaming government for mistreating Appalachian labor…

    Yes, but the fact that the violence was, in many cases, sanctioned by the state gave it a much stronger effect. And if you’ll review what I wrote, I was not blaming gov’t for directly mistreating labor, but rather for giving it’s blessing to private acts of violence.

    …had plenty of motives to act violently and exploitatively. And the market rewarded both sets of behavior — until government acted to restrain or redefine the market.

    In any economic system we set up in which certain players are given carte blanche to use violence and intimidation, “the market” will reward those actions. Government’s role in that case is not to “restrain or redefine the market,” but rather to enforce non-aggression. If I get mugged on the street, we wouldn’t consider that a market failure, but an act of violence that is clearly illegal, regardless of what economic theory you subscribe to.

    I think we’re just looking at the word from a different angle. From what I can tell, you seem to think that sanctioning acts of violence against workers can still qualify as capitalism. I don’t, and it’s certainly not something I would argue for.

    Too long, but I’ll leave you with this.

    And sorry for hijacking your blog, mark. What was this post about again?

  91. Mark H.
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Government sanctioned violence against workers certainly “still qualifies as capitalism.” American industrial capitalism was based on just that, wasn’t it? My point is that capitalism is an ecoomic system in which profit is the driving force; you, Mike, seem to see capitalism as an ideal of some kind (“free market”). That is an ideological stand, not a historical analysis. Capitalism has no morals and no objective other than profit fort those who own capital. Hence it can be incredibly productive of wealth, as well as incredibly destructive of human life and human values. Look at the Atlantic slave trade if you want proof! It was market driven on all fronts, but not by a ‘free market’. Look at Joseph Stiglitz’s recent work on unequal access to information for more recent evidence on the lack of a ‘free market’: government is always playing a vital role in protecting and guiding and sometimes screwing up the capitalist markets.

    As for the orignal tread — I want to be sure that my point was clear: Steve Pierce and Lois Richardson and others are undobutedly correct in saying that they’ve heard the term ‘ypsituckey’ used in hostile ways. Others use the term descriptively, even affectionately. I don’t use it, and deplore all uses of ethnic based terms to denigrate other human beings. But the name has a history, and it’s Appalachian.

    What the world needs now is capitalism nicely fettered!

  92. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    I see some generalizations about Ann Arbor. While Ann Arbor might have some snobs who look down on Ypsi, I just know too many cool-ass people who live in Ann Arbor–and who don’t see Ypsi in any particular negative light. And do we need to define ourselves as not being what Ann Arbor is–with some stereotype that Ann Arbor is all uppity and snobbish?

    I was born and raised in Ann Arbor. As a kid and young adult, I always saw Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti as being the same place. Really. The only generalization I can recall about Ypsilanti was about Ypsilanti High School–in my foggy memory, it seems that some kid once told me it was a tough (AKA violent) school. But I never had any experience with that.

    I went to EMU (forever) as a student, commuting from Ann Arbor. After graduating, I got a job in Canton, and I chose to buy a house in Ypsilanti without any reservation about this area (my only worry was that I’d have to drive a bit farther to see my parents and sisters, all in Ann Arbor at the time).

    Just as I’m having a hard time finding anybody in Ypsilanti who is actually personally offended by “Ypsitucky,” I’m having a hard time, as I think of all the people in Ann Arbor whom I know and have known, coming up with anybody who would be a snob towards Ypsilanti and Ypsilantians (well, I can think of a few racists maybe–but I don’t think Ann Arbor has any more racists, percentage-wise, than Ypsilanti).

  93. Paw
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Who are these cool “ass people” you speak of in Ann Arbor, Dirtgrain?

  94. Brackachetucky
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Kudos to Mike D. for the Mises link.

    As a capitalist, I am deeply offended at the use of the term “capitalist” in any negative way… my people are very hardworking people who have benefitted this country greatly and should not be denegrated based on a few guys in shiney tophats that made the children work in the burning shit mines. But just so we don’t have to figure out who’s using it positively or negatively, no one should use it at all and you should elect me mayor or you’re a bigot.

  95. Posted June 26, 2008 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Brackachetucky, you got my vote.


    – Steve

  96. Brackachetucky
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 8:18 pm | Permalink


  97. Brackachetucky
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, Steve, that was rude.

    I can be inarticulate.

    I don’t intend to be ingrateful to your ingenuous ingratiations (my being the very image of an ingenue in matters of insincere insinuation), but my insolent instigations arise from an intense intestinal (inguinal?) inkling of insidious (though inefficatious) infringement on our inalienable inheritance of liberty to invoke an illustration of Ypsilanti in keeping with its incomparably inviting appalachian inhabitants by our uttering of the individual incantation, “Ypsitucky.”

    In the interest of engaging your intrusive injuctions you will find me indefatigably intransigent.

    Hence the “weak.”

  98. Posted June 27, 2008 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Your imperialness is appreciated and your impenitence graciously accepted.

    – Steve

  99. howdryiam
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Not to be a ‘hillbilly-come-lately’ to this discussion, but I wanted to add my two-bits (and clichés) and this seemed as good a place as any to comment.

    All Things Considered had a bit last night about the newly declared ‘official cocktail’ of New Orleans, the Sazerac. The woman in the interview said something to the effect that if any city needed an official cocktail, it was NOLA. She may have a point, but my point is that Ypsilanistan probably could use a good drink as well.

    Granted, we have a great brewery, but perhaps we could use a cocktail to raise the level of sophistication in our humble berg. If you hadn’t noticed, there seems to be an inferiority complex in this town. But I digress, and that topic is discussed in just about every other comment here!

    So, should we have an official cocktail? I say resoundingly, yes! But while I lurvs me some good cocktails, I’m no mixologist.

    What could our drink look like? Should it be one part gin with four parts soda water, left to sit for a while until it’s tepid and flat then thrown down the drain? That could be the ‘Water Street Waster’. Not very creative, but see my earlier comment about not being a mixologist, or particularly clever, for that matter.

    Since I’m fond of a good KENTUCKY Bourbon, I’d be in favor of something our immigrant/kidnapped/extorted/forced labor ancestors would possibly drink. Perhaps mixed with Ouzo?

    Glug glug!

  100. Fred Stanford
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    While you are here Steve could you tell us more about these kidnappings?

  101. Brackachetucky
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    No “cheers” for me? Aren’t you supposed to try to make judo nice with everybody instead of answering the questions?

  102. Posted June 27, 2008 at 12:41 pm | Permalink


    Talk with folks that came up here. Get their oral history. Go to their family reunions. If you can earn their trust you will hear some amazing, heartbreaking and ultimately tragic stories.

    We love to romanticize this period in our history. We love the Rosie sign and talk about folks opening their homes to soldiers and factory workers.

    But we ignore the tragedies. Go back and read the newspaper accounts at the time. Read the personal letters of the stories sent home. Folks killed on the job and others that just disappeared. While the big factories did OK by their employees for the most part, it was an entire second and many times third class group of workers in construction, roads, worked farms, shipping and more. Dangerous jobs that were given to the migrants from Appalachia and further South because they were considered expendable and cheap.

    They were abused, money stolen from, family members threatened and despicable things done to kids and women. Child labor and women forced into prostitution and women dragged up to work in the brothels, today we call that kidnapping. These were jobs unregulated, off the books, managed by sub contractors and political bosses. It was the shadow war economy and it was growing all over SE Michigan.

    Much of the abuse was ignored or tolerated because there was a war on. But it was a tumultuous time.

    Look at the riots in Detroit during the war. Most folks don’t even know there were race riots during the war.

    Mark H. hit much of this on the nail in an earlier post. There is far more to this story and I believe we as Americans love to romanticize the past but fail to heed the lessons of the past.

    And because someone asked, a lot of of my family was from Tennessee, they moved West instead of North. They had some amazing tales to tell as well of their journeys and migration over the past 150 years.


    – Steve

  103. EG
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Did they have covered Segways?

  104. Posted June 27, 2008 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Nah, for long distance travel, we use Limos. You can buy them cheap down there.

    – Steve

  105. Brackachetucky
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    … and if you can really REALLY earn their trust, they’ll tell you they don’t mind Ypsilanti being called Ypsitucky because they’re not weenisses.

  106. Marion
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Ah. Steve, thanks for finally verifying that. These are secret stories, hidden from the pages of history, that are only told to rare outsiders who earn the trust of these reclusive people.

    We should send Steve to the Amazon to make first contact with that Brazilian tribe.

    Thank you, Steve. Once again, you have earned my trust.

  107. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Cool ass, sans the oo is class. What was my unconscious mind trying to say? Was it Ann Arbor snobbery? Upper class? Classy? Or maybe middle class or any class?

    It’s not quite as bad as the time I used Pig Latin in addressing a class of my students. “Class,” I said [but in Pig Latin]. Then I thought, “oh.”

  108. Jethro
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Oh I get it. I couldn’t figure out why Steve was trying to pander to Ypsituckians on mark’s blog.

    Then I realized he was just trying to use good old fashioned liberal guilt on mark’s non Ypsituckian readers to keep them from going to Zingerman’s.

    OEC alluded to it earlier.

    Desperate to sabotage your political opponents’ efforts to help the city much?

  109. freeman
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    There seems to be 2 different terms here that are under dispute – “Ypsitucky” and “capitalism”. Both terms clearly seem to mean different things to different people. As I see it, there is no CORRECT interpretation/definition for either term, and it doesn’t seem very wise, in terms of both effective communication and plain ol’ decency, to think otherwise and then try to impose it on others.

    Regarding “Ypsitucky”:
    The term doesn’t really bother me. I’ve never had the impression that the term was strictly negative in terms of connotation. Much of my family has Appalachian roots (West Virginia) and moved north, initially setting in what is known to some as “Warrentucky”.

    I don’t use the term myself and don’t really plan to, but I also don’t plan on moralizing to others about it, recognizing that my conceptual map of reality is not reality itself. Neither is Steve’s, nor anyone elses’.

    I could think of many words or symbols that personally offend me, but it seems mighty rude for me to demand that others refrain from using such words or displaying such symbols just because they upset me. They’re just silly abstractions anyway – arguing over them seems like a waste of time to me.

    Regarding “capitalism”:
    I personally think it’s mistaken for people who claim to advocate freed markets to identify with the term “capitalism” since I think it ultimately fuels libertarian self-marginalization, but again, it’s really none of my business what others choose to do.

    The term itself seems rather meaningless to me. Some view it as anti-conceptual, obsuring understanding and often hindering meaningful communication. People understand and define it in so many different ways, some of which are mutually exclusive, some even merging mutually exclusive concepts into a truly clusterfucked abstraction. Roderick Long, one of my favorite libertarian thinkers, expanded upon all this in a blog entry written earlier today (good timing, eh?).

    My thinking is left-libertarian in nature, as I ultimately advocate acheiving leftist ends through libertarian means. As much as I like Kevin Carson’s phrase “free market anti-capitalism”, I no longer identify with it just because I’d rather avoid using the C-word altogether. I’d rather not have other people mistake me for someone I’m not (a corporate apologist, for example), and I’d rather not use terms that’ll ultimately serve to hinder, rather than promote, understanding.

  110. mark
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Steve, all kidding and BS aside, if you know people that have stories concerning family members that were brought to this region against their will, or forced to work as prostitutes, I hope that you would encourage them to tell their stories to an oral historian. If such things did happen, we need to have a record of it. As these people trust you, my hope is that you could convince them to speak with someone. If you need help finding the resources, I’d be happy to help.

  111. Posted June 28, 2008 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Mark, absolutely, but you can see how I was attacked when I brought up these issue, you can understand why folks are reluctant to talk about these things.

    Human slavery and trafficking still occurs today. Today it is Asian and Eastern European women that are forced into the sex trade. Many of these women are brought to this country. Fifty and 100 years ago it was immigrants, legal and illegal, and the rural poor.

    We seemingly can’t have a discussion about race and abuse of the poor and disadvantaged without attacking each other.

    For many, it is too painful to talk about and you end up being vilified because the stories run counter to the popular perception of Rosie the Riveter and the war propaganda that was promoting the idea of unity and harmony that was far from the reality of the time.

    One of the issues that came up in the Downtown Blueprints was the racism that is still prevalent downtown. During one public forum, only two people stood up to speak about racism problems and perceptions in our downtown, me and Jim Vick.

    Nothing happened from that discussion and I can’t remember if it was even included in the final report, I have to go back and check.

    Did you know, that there are a large number, I mean in the hundreds of people that live in the Southside of Ypsilanti that still believe that restaurants and bars in downtown Ypsilanti do not serve or welcome African Americans.

    Others that will tell you that the City is openly hostile to black businesses and discourages them from locating downtown.

    I am NOT saying the city is hostile to black business, it is the perception that the City as well as business and elected leaders are hostile to black business’ in Ypsilanti.

    This is passed down from generation to generation because of what had happened during the 40’s and 50’s and the parents and grandparents pass along those stories to warn their children where it is safe to go and what happened to them and their ancestors. This is a well documented process of oral history in the African American community and has been for hundreds of years.

    It is the same oral process that passes along the stories like chicken at Churches Chicken causes sterility in African-Americans and everyone knows that because you only see Churches Chicken in black neighborhoods.

    White America is shocked when they hear this and their reaction is much like what happened in this thread with attacks and accusations.

    CBS 60 minutes conducted a series of interviews back in the 90’s with middle class African-Americans to discuss some of these stereotypes. It was ground breaking because it was one of the first times this was discussed in the mainstream media. Yet 60 Minutes was attacked for even talking about this and accused of furthering these stereotypes.

    The Anti-Defamation League has produced a wonderful series of videos on racism and stereotypes and the harm it causes. It is a great basis for fostering discussion.

    But until we can stop the personal attacks and instead listen to each with respect and dignity, well then, we are doomed to continue to hurt each other in ignorance.

    It is ignorance that is the greatest barrier to breaking down stereotypes and overcoming racism in our country and in our community.

    – Steve

  112. ytown
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Do people look for a reason to be offended? Lighten up you way too p.c. libs! There is nothing derogatory in saying ypsitucky. There is nothing derogatory in Ypsilanti or Kentucky! Find something else to be offended about! Maybe you shout be upset that Obama has gone to a racist church for the last 20 years!! Now that is worth being offended!

  113. ytown
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    oops, should not shout. Sorry I can’t type. I’m a Republican.

  114. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 2:48 pm | Permalink


  115. ytown
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Racist! Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. Look it up.

  116. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    Thanks Steve. Can you help me reconcile that with what seemed to be your earlier statements equating the term Ypsitucky with the “n” and “k” words.

    Speaking for myself alone, I wasn’t offended that you brought up the issue that many folks from Kentucky moving to Detroit had a very difficult time and encountered prejudice. I was a little shocked that you seemed to equate Ypsitucky with slavery and the holocaust and the associated harm of those various slurs.

    In this post, you’re the only one I’ve found who’s typed out the “n” word. While, many have had no problem spelling out “Ypsitucky.”

    How, again, in your mind, are they the same? How are there histories equated?

  117. Posted June 29, 2008 at 2:00 am | Permalink

    Ol E,

    The ADL has some very good videos and companion materials on racism and stereotypes that you should take the time to watch and perhaps from that you can help reconcile your internal dilemmas.

    I never equated one stereotype or bigoted word to another.

    It is interesting when I hear folks say they aren’t bothered by the word Ypsitucky. Especially since it sounds so eerily similar to folks in the 50’s and early 60’s who said the same thing when using the N word.

    Not once in the some 9 years I have been here where I heard the word Ypsitucky was it not used as a derisive word to put down people that live in Ypsilanti. This is especially true when used by people in other communities.

    I remember just shortly after I moved here the wife of a department chair at U-M asked where we had bought a house. I said Ypsilanti and she responded, “Couldn’t you find a better Realtor?”

    She was perpetuating the stereotype and she had great influence because she would recommend to newly hired professors and their spouses where the good places to live in Washtenaw County and she was clearly biased against Ypsilanti and she showed that bias because she thought it was safe to make those stereotypical comments based solely on my skin color and where I last lived. She assumed it was safe to let her guard down.

    I ran into a similar conversation one time at a gathering where discussion about black and white came up and several folks made outrageously hateful and bigoted statements. They did so because they thought it was safe, they assumed I was one of them. But they didn’t know my sister-in-law was black and how as a single mother, she left D.C. to start a new life out west because she didn’t want to see her son live the life that her friends and their kids were living. Her son graduated with an engineering degree from the Air Force Academy and became a 4-engine pilot in the Air Force.

    Here is a story I just heard this week in Ypsi. A black man that grew up here asked, “What it like to wake up a white person in Ypsilanti.” The white person said, “I don’t think about it, I think about my kids, and work and family. I don’t wake up thinking about whether I am Black or White in Ypsilanti”

    The black man responded, “I do. I think about it every single day.”

    The best way to shed the bonds of racism and stereotypes is to confront it and say you will not tolerate it. Isn’t it interesting that early in the Civil Rights movement, it was the Jews in synagogues that spoke up early and often about the tyranny of racism and discrimination against African Americans. It was the Jews that went south to organize voter registration drives and raise money and some of them were killed for standing up for their belief that all people no matter they race or religion were first people that deserved the right to be free and vote. It was because they had their own direct experience of a similar hatred. Few words make me cringe. But I wince every time I hear the word “Crystalnacht”.

    It is easy to say ah heck, I am not offended by the word Ypsitucky. But for many they fail to understand how that term is used. It is meant as a put down. It perpetuates a stereotype of incompetence, low class, and low intelligence.

    This is not about being P.C or needing to grow a thicker skin, it is about standing up to intolerance.

    Mayor Paul Schreiber said Ypsitucky is a pejorative. He is right. To stand by and do nothing is to endorse and tolerate the continued stereotype.


    – Steve

  118. Posted June 29, 2008 at 2:53 am | Permalink

    I remember just shortly after I moved here the wife of a department chair at U-M asked where we had bought a house. I said Ypsilanti and she responded, “Couldn’t you find a better Realtor?”

    She was perpetuating the stereotype and she had great influence because she would recommend to newly hired professors and their spouses where the good places to live in Washtenaw County and she was clearly biased against Ypsilanti and she showed that bias because she thought it was safe to make those stereotypical comments based solely on my skin color and where I last lived. She assumed it was safe to let her guard down.

    she showed that bias because she thought it was safe to make those stereotypical comments based solely on my skin color Not bloody likely. Maybe she just doesn’t like Ypsilanti. It’s a free country isn’t it? One is allowed to not like Ypsilanti isn’t one? From the real estate as investment school there is no question that Ypsilanti is terrible place to buy a house — you’ll make far more money (when you sell in 10+ years) buying in Ann Arbor. Numbers don’t lie. Was here spouse in U-M’s Buisness dept?

    Cut the me too victimology for Allah’s sake.

  119. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Ytown: “Racist! Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. Look it up.”

    I’m familiar with the accusation–I’ve not seen proof to back it up. I could have let it slide, but I’m sick of people repeating lies (intentionally or unintentionally) to make truth. I challenge you to prove it.

    For you to look up: the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.

  120. Reclusion
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Years ago I was working with a mason crew. Most of them were from Ypsi. Sitting taking a break with the oldest mason we watched a really tall mason working. The older one said; “That there is one of Ypsituckys finest” It was a high form of compliment.

    Blacks can use the N word with each other often as a greeting or compliment. Ypsitucky can be used both ways. Depending on the transmitter and receiver.

    Thats how I see it. I have no offense to someone from Ypsi, or close freinds using it.

    People who recently moved to Ypsi that find it offensive should lighten up.

    Thats just one more reason why I voted for Lois.

  121. Brackachetucky
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Steve’s going to continue to demagogue harder to back up his demagoguery, we’re going to continue not being fooled by his demagoguery, and Zingerman’s Ypsitucky dinner is over. I think this topic is fingerlicked.

  122. egpenet
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    I asked on the “Annexing Thread” as well …

    Is there a vision from our Council candidates for our home sweet home here that will take us into the next five years? Or is is more status quo? Our mayor and councilperson Robb have made their ideas clear. Where are we going here in whateveruky?

    Just asking?

  123. Marion
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    “I never equated one stereotype or bigoted word to another.

    It is interesting when I hear folks say they aren’t bothered by the word Ypsitucky. Especially since it sounds so eerily similar to folks in the 50’s and early 60’s who said the same thing when using the N word.”

    Not equated, just “eerily similar.” Almost the same. Uncanny how alike the two terms are. Not that you ever said that.

  124. egpenet
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    I’m a relative newcomer and have more of an openness to the “realities” of my neighbors and friends. I’ve lived in different parts of the country and gained a lot of appreciation for folks that live off the land, folks who work in coal mines, folks that make hubcaps in sweaty hot factories in Valdosta, Georgia … and right here in town … for folks so broken and poor they need all the help they can get.

    For folks that do not know me, I should be more careful with language, but often I am not. I regret that urge in myself to be funny or clever or sensational. When I add -ucky to anything, it’s with fondness and a very clear picture in my head of the folks that know me.

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