Why Are New Yorkers Called Yankees?
It was the summer of 1989 and my siblings and I were so excited because we had just been told that we were going to be taking a road trip to Arkansas to see our great-grandmother.
Our road trip became a memory that I will never forget. It was when we hit I-285 in Atlanta that things started to get interesting. I-285 is a highway loop that circles Atlanta and just so happens to be not only the busiest highway in Georgia but also in the United States.
My mother, being a good law abiding citizen from New York, decided to drive the speed limit on I-285...until she realized that if she didn't speed up, the cars behind her were going to ram right into her and have no regrets about it.
I sat next to my mom in the front seat and watched as she clenched the steering wheel, checked her mirrors, asked Jesus for forgiveness for the law she was about breaking the law, and laid on the gas while other cars continued to speed past us, honking and shouting things like, "you dumb Yankees."
I was nine years old and it was the first time I ever heard someone shout out the word "Yankees" and not smile when saying it like the people back home did when they were talking about the baseball team
My mom explained that it was because we had New York plates on our car and the people thought calling us Yankees would hurt our feelings. I was so confused.
Calling someone a Yankee in a derogatory way dates back to the Civil War era. Back then, the word Yankee was used by Confederates to describe Federal Soldiers and other Northerners and there was definitely no love between the two. Today, it's used by some Southerners as a way to mock Northerners.
The funny thing is that being called a Yankee by a Southerner isn't really the insult those hurling it believe it to be. The war ended over 150 years ago and when it did, slavery was completely abolished in the United States of America and that's something we can definitely get behind.
As far as the baseball team in New York, the New York Yankees adopted the name because the team's original name, Highlanders, wasn't a big hit with fans. So, the team decided to call itself the Yankees because the term carries patriotic symbolism.