When a non-native thinks “Arizonan,” a few specific — and usually wrong — stereotypes come to mind. Perhaps this bias is informed by media depictions of Arizonans as cowboys and cowgirls, toting guns and taking names. Every place and culture has common misconceptions and Arizona is no different. Here are a few fallacies we Arizonans would like to go out of fashion.
1. We’re all old.
Actually, the young, hip sector of Arizona’s population is one of the largest in the US. While we host what sometimes feels like gazillions of retirees and elderly snowbirds, families are moving here and having babies. The median age is only 37.
2. We’re all hicks.
Even the most rural of us are pretty darned savvy. We can fix cars and saddles, make and enjoy mescal. Not only that, but Phoenix is a cosmopolitan metropolis and is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, and is sitting pretty at the fifth largest in the US.
3. We’re all tan.
Heck no. We live for months of scorching heat, but we do so indoors, so as to escape the furnace-like climate and the sunburns that go along with it.
4. We have one culture.
Arizona does its best to protect a total of twenty-two sovereign Native American nations within its boundaries. These include the Navajo Reservation and the Hualapai lands at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Each have their own government, laws, and codes of conduct, and there are many sacred sites that non-tribal people aren’t allowed to visit.
5. Our cooking culture only celebrates one darn taco.
UNESCO appointed Tucson the nation’s first City of Gastronomy in 2015, honoring the region’s diverse cuisine. Arizonans, being from countless different cultural backgrounds, cook all kinds of food, and we do so with creativity, love and pride.
6. We’re all conservative Republicans.
Arizonans are a stubborn bunch, that’s for sure, but we get along ok. We’re turning into a purple state as the population changes, and education has come a long way to appropriate forward-thinking values and inclusivity.
7. We’re wealthy.
Magazine covers featuring pictures of Scottsdale golf resorts and Sedona spas give the vibe that we’re all rolling in dough. Quite the opposite. Arizona ranks smack-dab in the middle of the US ranking of wealth, coming in at 25 in 2018. But dire poverty is everywhere, including near the border with Mexico, tribal reservations, big cities, and small mountain towns that the average earner is priced out of.
8. We are prudish.
We were one of the first states to legalize medical pot. We place a premium on our freedom to be individuals.
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