I’ve always known my home state has a bit of an image problem. For years, whenever I’d say where I’m from I’d be met with smirks and replies of “Oh, you mean JOISEY.”
Let me repeat that: NO.
I’ve never met a single native who pronounces it ‘Joisey.’ Period. And as for the ‘What exit’ routine, give it a rest. The entire state doesn’t reside three blocks from the Turnpike, and no, my book’s title isn’t a play on that overused expression either
New Jersey has been called ‘The Armpit of America” and the butt of countless jokes. Sadly, it’s unlikely we’ll be shaking perception that anytime soon. The U.S. seems to need somewhere to laugh at and it looks like we’re it. We get that. We’re from Jersey, we have a sense of humor. When your home is the punch-line for constant depreciating jokes, a thick skin and the ability to laugh it off are vital. Most everyone I know thought South Park’s ‘It’s A Jersey Thing’ was brilliant, especially because it ripped into the very shows we all detest. But between The Sopranos, The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Jerseylicious, MTV’s Jersey Shore, the media seems to be profiting quite nicely on making us look bad.
We’re a proud state for good reason. We’re a state of diversity, both in population and geography, rich in history and heritage. Such notables as Thomas Edison, Buzz Aldrin, Frank Sinatra, Anne Hatheway, Meryl Streep and Kevin Smith all hail from NJ. But these days we’re more associated with Snooki, and that little train-wreck is, in fact, a New Yorker. People snicker at the title of ‘Garden State,’ unaware of New Jersey’s miles of woodlands, marshlands, mountains, farmland, creeks, rivers, lakes and barrier beaches. I live 25 minutes outside of New York City and regularly see eagles flying overhead. Foxes are common, deer even more so. Seal sightings on the Hudson River are not unusual this time of year. Yet much of the U.S. insists our state is one giant stretch of needle-strewn beaches, oil refineries, chemical plants, and toxic waste dumps.
I’m not the only one speaking out against my home state’s negative image these days. Others are voicing this sentiment as well. And I’ve noticed that my site draws in many visits from people searching things “New Jersey” related, so I’d like to call out to my fellow residents to speak up about what you feel makes your corner of this state great. If you have a Jersey-positive site, Facebook page or blog, let me know and I’ll add a link. If you’d like to guest-post I’d love to hear from you. Let’s fight the bad stereotypes and show the world what we’re really about.