Friday, August 11, 2006

White trash v redneck

Nashville blogger Aunt B examines the difference between the terms redneck and white trash and determines that redneck is the more pejorative.

Well, she is originally from the Midwest, so I suppose she doesn't know any better. But she always has a fine turn of phrase, so it's a worth a read anyway. She states that the modifier "white" is used when there's a class a distinction - e.g. WASP - Anglo-Saxon is already a racial (or at least an ethnic) descriptor, so is white needed? Yes, apparently, when discussing class.

So is the term "white trash" racist? Does it imply that most whites aren't trashy and most non-whites are and so we need to make the distinction? Perhaps. Or perhaps it's come to mean that. What it does imply is that whites needn't be trashy, that their natural state isn't trashy, and so somehow it's even more disgraceful when a group of whites get so low they ain't never leavin' their trash past behind.

I think the "white" in white trash is a warning to other white folks. If you are white and you see the trash of some other ethnic or racial group, you can think that you'll never be like that - you can ascribe ignorant, low behaviour (incorrectly) to the race of that trashy person. From a white speaker to a white listener, "white trash" says "watch your step, a few wrong choices and you can be trashy, too."


The best party I ever threw was a white trash party I co-hosted with the Texan. It's legendary. People still talk about it. But I'll tell you this, we didn't use the terms "white trash" on any official correspondence. We called the party "Deep South and Dirty" - partly because we didn't want to be exclusionary. We wanted everyone to reach down into their own trashiness and pull out the worst. It was a blast, but it did turn out to be exclusionary. Some Brits came, one (yes - just one) Yankee came. The rest were ex-pat Southerners, and we did surely revel in it.

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