I agree totally, Michael. Isolation and lack of education and curiosity are the cause of prejudice no matter where one resides. However, my experience has been that isolation and stagnation occurs more often in smaller, rural areas where there is a physical element to the isolation not typically experienced in metropolitan areas.
However, there certainly are very isolated neighborhoods (if not physically, at least figuratively) in cities where the residents are cut off from the diversity and experience of people outside their social, economic, or cultural classes.
And, I believe rural isolation happens less often now — our society is more mobile — people rarely are born, live, and die in the same town, county, or even region — although many leave and return. Add our connection to the world through the internet and isolation becomes less likely. However, even with the world at our finger tips, we often ignore what does not agree with our world view, cementing what we believe to be true and right based only on our limited personal experiences.
I am curious about the woman you mentioned. I don’t know her level of education or her social/economic status, and you may not either, but she sounds like many people I’ve known who are well-education, have traveled widely, and are successful in their fields but they are not readers beyond what they must read to succeed. And, they weren’t readers as children. Exposure through reading seems to be the key to experiencing different cultures one will never see, even in worldly travels, and allowing one to meet people one could never know if not through the pages of a book.
If the woman had read some of the many books rich with Southern culture and history, she would not be surprised at you being normal!