Gut Rumbles

August 27, 2004

jawja crackers

When I was young, somebody told me that the term "Georgia Cracker" came from back in the days when Atlanta was still called Terminus, and all the railroads intersected there. Farmers would drive their wagons loaded with cotton and tobacco into town to sell to the factors there.

Supposedly, the people driving the wagons used whips with special tips on the end that make a loud CRACK! when they snapped that whip over their horses or mules. People in the factor houses could hear them coming a mile away. "Here comes another cracker," they said, long before they saw the wagon.

If that story isn't true, it should be. The term "Cracker" today is a racial slur that means an ignnorant Southern red-neck. Or ANY racist bastard with a simian brow, a Confederate flag, four teeth and a chaw of Red Man in his cheek. The same people who are shocked... SHOCKED, mind you, by the notorious N-word don't have a problem calling Southerners "Crackers," and they mean it as an insult.

But that's not what the word means to me. It means good ole boys and pretty wimmen, hot days and languid evenings, sand gnats and mosquitoes, grits and eggs, friendly people and good dogs, pickup trucks and firearms. I LIKE that stuff.

So, I call myself a Cracker. I AM ONE!!!


That word has always meant hillbilly to me. And I don't me in a bad way. I mean someone literally from hill country. I didn't realize it was a negative word until just a few years ago. guess I was pretty naive.

Posted by: drc on August 28, 2004 02:03 AM

Don't forget about our Georgia Peaches, pretty women everywhere and friendly also. The south is known for our pretty women.

Posted by: Catfish on August 28, 2004 08:14 AM

..I am a Tennessee Hillbilly... only an "honorary Jawja Cracker"... and, I am proud to be both...

Posted by: Eric on August 28, 2004 08:22 AM

No, actually, the term "Cracker" ISN'T a racial slur that means ignorant Southern redneck. It still means the same thing as it always did, which is middle to lower-middle class "one horse farm" type Southern white folks. Mainly from Georgia and Florida, I might add. But the people who would use "Cracker" as a racial slur WANT everybody to buy the load of crap that would make it so. Which don't make it so at all. I still don't follow their line of reasoning that makes Cracker a bad word. What's wrong with hard-workin' middle class people? I think they were just flailing about for something that would carry to white people the bone-deep sting of the "N" word, and lamely landed on Cracker without any thought or judgement as to the etiology of the term. It's no slur, and If anyone were to ever call me cracker to my face I'd say yeah, and I'm proud of it. If you're looking to insult me, you didn't. Get an intellect and a new gibe.

If they'd bother to think about it, they'd realize that "white trash" is a much, much worse thing to say. There never was any hope for slovenly, lazy white trash people, and there still isn't. But the people who use Cracker as an insult don't think much about anything at all. Either that or white trash is too obviously racist, and they're afraid of that because it's what they really are.

I'm sorry, Acidman, but I'm very disappointed that you apparently have bought into their crap. I know you said that's not what it means to you, but you also said it's a racial slur. I beg to differ. As I noted above, just because THEY say it's a slur don't make it a slur...but if we who are Cracker buy into their shit, by even thinking secretly that it carries the connotation they want to give it, soon it will be.

BTW, the story I've heard my whole life had to do with cattle drovers from Florida and Georgia and the whips they used to keep their cattle bunched and moving to market.

Posted by: Amy on August 28, 2004 08:29 AM

Cracker, redneck, and hillbilly are all north British terms, from where the people of Appalachia originated. "Cracker" meant a jokester, as in "crack a joke." In the context used today, I'd never heard of it until I was in my 30s, naive Yankee that I was.

Posted by: Fred on August 28, 2004 08:41 AM

Hmmmm... interesting take on "cracker". The story I was always told (From folks who lived just south of Georgia in the Florida panhandle) was that cracker referred to oyster crackers. No, not the little white things you drop on a bowl of soup, but people that shucked oysters.

The story goes that some white people were just so poor & white-trashy that they dredged oysters for a living, and mostly lived off part of the harvest. The affluent whites would have a crew of slaves who did the backbreaking work, and had the oysters shipped up north packed in seaweed. They had enough money to eat "real food" and not crack open oysters for most meals.

I've heard the whip story too... usually as the source of the term 'brushpopper' in regards to vaqueros who'd use a whip to get cattle moving out of thick brush.

Posted by: El Capitan on August 28, 2004 08:46 AM

My understanding is a Cracker is a Georgian who migrated to Florida in the 1800's. They were horse and catlle drivers, and always used particularly loud whips. That's why they are alternately referred to as Georgia Crackers and Florida Crackers.

Posted by: Velociman on August 28, 2004 09:38 AM


It's a soda cracker, and it can't be glorified. No matter the argument, no matter the background tale, one thing holds true: these derogatory terms - any of them, pick one - are no longer (if ever) intended to describe a hard-working individual with manners and class.

So, although I'll smile and roll with the punches when my good buddy Geoffrey links me as a "cracker," you won't catch me using the term to describe myself...

(I had it coming from Geoffrey anyway; I had just called him a "Yankee asshole" : D )

Posted by: Key on August 28, 2004 02:46 PM

Agree and somewhat disagree-I was born American, but my Dad was all POLISH as well as his ancestry. Pollock jokes were big as I grew up, but I always had a TAG line-I'd ask my abuser to tell me what "*** meant in english (from my last name to Grandma), and when they said "I don't know", I'd ask how it FEELS to be DUMBER than a pollock...after about , 12 years in the Air Force, I was in a Social Actions class (read Poor Oppressed Blacks Indoctrination) and referred to myself as a Pollock-Big "NO, No"!! I was told I had used a Racial FLAG word-and I replied, you can't hurt me or any other Pollock by calling us 1-It's what we call ourselves, like my Moms' family calls themselves Micks, 'cuz they're Irish, AND PROUD OF IT-Only Blacks take OFFENSE at the 'N' word, even tho'they call themselves THAT-'cuz they have no pride in themselves, Apparently...I was ignored for the rest of the class and was given a (barely) passing score-they feared the waves FLUNKING me would cause...I'm now a Texan, and unashamed of Cowboy, Red-neck, or Cracker tags either-I'll just agree and GLORY in the names thrown at me...PS, I never got to Vietnam, tho a Volunteer and served from '65 to ''87, aand KERRYS' Slanders Affected us as much as those who went-EVEYONE in Uniform was Smeared and Feared 'cuz of JOHN F'N KERRY...

Posted by: J R Pietrzak on August 29, 2004 04:04 PM

I've been researching the "Cracker" appellation for a while. In 1895 artist/writer Frederick Remington came to Florida, visited our interior cattle country, and pronounced the indigenous cattle "hunter" (rustler?) a Cracker Cowboy. And the cracking whip legend was born. Other researchers have tagged "Cracker" to the Spanish circa 1709, who characterized Crackers as destitute, American Bedouins who had wandered into Florida. From Territorial days to 1895 "Cracker" referred to the lowest class of white people...vagabonds who lived from hand-to-mouth...begging, stealing, hunting-fishing. Doing anything "a la Cracker" translated to primitive and rustic. One article I found indicates that "Cracker" was a worse insult to blacks than other terms. In fact, contemporary Black usage of "Cracker" is fairly close to the original meaning. 19th Century Floridians would not be flattered by their descendants calling them "Crackers."

Posted by: Jim Johnson on December 28, 2004 03:48 PM

What does it mean if a man calls a woman Cracker? Should this be taken as a compliment or an insult

Posted by: sonia on October 19, 2005 09:12 PM
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