We were given an assignment in class this week to explore the reputation of a particular state. I received Arkansas. When I asked my fellow classmates what their thoughts were on the state I received a variety of answers. It is obvious that Arkansas is seen as a very rural and under developed state, marked by Ozark hicks, ignorance, racism and violence. My own personal opinion of Arkansas was a place in the Deep South full of poverty. A little Internet research shows that Arkansas procured this reputation due to many factors. The physical terrain caused by the flood plains of the Mississippi, has kept the area from being developed for the first 150 years of its establishment. It’s history in The Confederacy and slavery created a reputation of racism and violence with heavy KKK activity. Other writers and artists have created an idea of ignorant hill people in their description of the Ozark people. Television shows and Movies such as Gone With the Wind and The Beverly Hillbillies strengthened this reputation. Some people are offended and contradict this; others have accepted the stereotype and embrace it to the fullest.
The latest attempt at changing the reputation of Arkansas gives it the nickname The Natural State. Arkansas.com has all kinds of information on planning a affordable family friend vacation complete with camping and tours of a diamond mine. The site is boasts photos and links to videos about the wonderful outdoor activities awaiting the visitor. There is a Pinterest link on each photo. YouTube does not have just one video advertising the state, but at least ten videos on various things to do from outdoor to fine dining. Although these attempts to increase tourism and present Arkansas as a family friendly state, I think more needs to be done to change their reputation on a national scale. You really have to seek out the information; it’s not in your face. People listen more when it right in your face.