Thar's always been some confusion among the unenlightend about what a Cracker is...an' ain't.
So first off, I'se gonna make a big point: Crackers is a people wif' a real culture an' a philosophy. They know who they people is.
While both terms is generally understood to mean Southern rural white folks, Never Confuse a redneck wif' a Cracker. I'll give some pointers on that directly.
But let it be said straight from the gitgo, a redneck is a lower species of bein' and rednecks can be anywhar'--
The north, the south, the midwest, the leftwest--all geographies have these shiftless no-account rednecks who toss they spam cans out the window of they 1982 Cameros onto the side of the road.
Rednecks is been known to call a fella a Cracker as a means of sayin', "I'se moved to the edge of the city an' is more socialized than yore folks."
But Crackers howl in laughter since they know the neckers is like vultures on the edge of every city dump. Rednecks is jes' a step above a vagrant, an' I might be doin' an injustice to the vagrant.
Rednecks kick they mangy dawgs fer sometin' to do when they's bored. As I said over at Troll's, they wimmin is named Raylene, Sherlene and Mavis. They chillen's never say "Sir" or "Mam" while Cracker chillens say "Sir" and "Mam" until they's in they 50s --at least.
But Cracker is more elusive to layout fer ya'll.
The simplest explanation is a skilled homesteader in the Southern states of Florida and Georgia, an' he has usually been in his location two -three generations or more. Some say iffin' ya ain't been heah afore the War Between the States, youse a new comer. ( Mention should be made that many will say that a Cracker is anybody who can proudly claim they folks' been heah three generations an' whose forebears is Southern, but not Scots-Irish...like our Troll.)
A Cracker's people--mostly1700s Celtic immigrants from Scotland and Ireland-- came from the mountains of the Carolinas an' Eastern Tennessee, but moved south as economics, politics, religion and family feuds drove them to search for a new place. Some English colonists who grew disaffected wif' city ways-- and smug British brutality before American Independence-- also joined in the move south into Florida cause it were NOT a British colony, but a sparsely populated region whar' land could be bought cheap.
Florida warn't much of a place fer money makin' like the plantation lands of South Carolina, Virginny, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. The swamps and heat, the Indians and 'skeeters kept back all but the hardiest an' headstrong.
Some came fer independence since citified ways was encroachin' into the countryside. By the early 1800s Cracker forebears preferred freedom and independence to money made wif' European commerce, Yankee bankers, an' citified airs. Crackers is conformity averse. They's pretty conservative on the main thangs like family and freedom. Compromise ain't much virtue to 'em.
In south Georgia and the Florida panhandle the theory is that the name "Cracker" came from the cracked corn that were a staple of the diet in the 1750-1830s. Further down the state of Florida, these hardy settlers had rounded up horses and cattle left behind by the Spanish (listen to audio)--the term "Cracker"refers to the cowboys whose whip crackin' over the herds of Criollo cattle could be heard fer long distances. I'se persuaded both of these has a claim to the truth of it--even though scholars allow that "Cracker" is a term from Middle English (Shakespeare) that ain't nuthin' but a term fer a smart aleck wise-cracker always on the edge of polite conformity. I reckon thar's somethin' in that view, too.
Over at Daytona Beach a lady put on a show at the moosem about Crackers. Her idea was that some Crackers is furious iffin' ya call them so, while others is proud to own the name. I reckon she was muddled up some. During the racial strife of the 60s, black people went to callin' white men "crackers" an' the newspaper boys down heah from the Chicago Trib understood that to mean "poor white backwoods segregationists."
Thas' a far cry from the truth of it. Yankees always miss the distinctions in all things Southern. "Cracker" meant a white family wif' anglo/celtic history who did not plan to let go of his history, even iffin' that history was long on Civil War heroics now under attack in the South of the 1960s. Cracker's know who in their family served in the Civil War and where. Rednecks abuse the Confederate flag by confusin' it wif a bikini fer Raylene, and stick in the eye of Tshonda.
Some Crackers is of modest means, but mor'n you'd believe is folks of considerable means, though the only difference ya might notice is they have season's football tickets. They's still livin' on they land ( however small) still usin' granny's old cast iron pots, an still watch over Pappy Jack's grave. They keep family records and heirlooms. (rednecks pawn anything their granny give 'em--iffin' they knowed who they granny is.)
(1860s Cracker homestead in Florida...Crackers lived in they first cabins until the next generation had enough money to build a two story "big house" wif verandahs and sleeping porches.)
What ya wanna' git a hold of is the Cracker mind.
Crackers know stuff. They walk the woods an' know the names of all the kids of pine trees and oak trees(Turkey oak, blackjack oak, laurel oak, myrtle, water oak, and The Live Oak). THey know what is poisonous an' what ya can eat. They start they fires wif' literd knots, a redneck builds a fire wif' the trash lying around his truck. Rednecks doan trouble theyselves to learn much 'cept whar' the cheap tattoo parlours is. Crackers decorate they Christmas trees wif' Sweet Gum Tree balls, rednecks decorate wif strings of shot gun shell casins. Cracker's have a cuisine, rednecks open cans.
Crackers lived off the land, coaxin' it to productivity, rednecks is like gypsies, takin' what they is and movin' on. Crackers hunt legally and eat they game, rednecks is gutless poachers.
Crackers know Uncle Remus is literature, rednecks thinks it's a snide name fer ole black men.
Not all Crackers is makin' they way wif cattle or agriculture. Some is finest fishermen ya ever will find. Thy lived in the Keys (Conchs), on Lake Okeechobee or on the Gulf or on the Ocklawaha or along the St. John's River
(Uncle's folks lived on the St. John's fer a spell.) Fried fresh caught mullet ain't tha same when fried by a reg'ler kitchen cook as when a Cracker lifts that golden sizzlin' fillet outa the cast iron pan and lays it on yore plate alongside swamp cabbage and homegrown 'maters.
I could wax lyrical another hour or so, tellin' ya'll Cracker lore an' all....but jes' know that the True Cracker loves his land and his folks, is kind to dawgs and chillen an' is a stinging rebuke to the indolent.
He is elusive and private by inclination, preferrin' space between hisself an' the next family over--he's social enough, but holdin' back some fer decorum an'modesty. He's often happy en famille but friendly toward honest men, though he doan expect to meet so many of them in this life. He adheres to a "good neighbor" policy. He keeps his own counsel an respects yore freedom. The Cracker fella is near 'bout immune to trendy ways. Crackers is often highly edoocated--they teach at the university, but lives out from the city. They reads an' writes, an is fond of poetry an' song.
In the Cracker ya'll will find the soul of early Florida, a land apart from the over English-ed colonies. A land still in memory of its Spanish idyll. The self-possesed people who settled heah an' learnt to live among the moss hung trees an' the gators in the river, they jes' ain't quick let go of the virtues that stood against the decadent ways of yankee urbanites.