White trash

White trash

White trash is a pejorative term targeted at lower social class white people with poor prospects and/or low levels of education. To call someone "white trash" is to accuse a white person of being economically, educationally and/or culturally bankrupt. "White trash" should be differentiated from the more socially acceptable term "Redneck", as each has an unique historical etymology and context in modern usage. While white trash is most commonly used as a pejorative, low- to middle-income rural whites often self-identify as rednecks.


The term "white trash" originated in the Baltimore and Washington, DC area during the 1820s post-revolutionary war reconstruction boom. During that period, many poor people migrated to the area, and white and black semi-skilled workers were competing for the same jobs, resources and marriage partners.Wray 2007] The term "white trash" first came into common use in the 1830s as a pejorative used by upper-class United States southerners of all races against poor whites.Fact|date=July 2007 It was synonymous with the slurs "sand hiller" and "clay eater". White trash were hyperbolically assumed to farm ineptly on poor land, and therefore resort to eating clay in order to survive.Fact|date=June 2008

In 1854 Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote the chapter "Poor White Trash" in her book "A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin". Stowe tells the reader that slavery not only produces "degraded, miserable slaves", but also poor whites who are even more degraded and miserable. The plantation system forced those whites to struggle for subsistence. Beyond economic factors, Stowe traces this class to the shortage of schools and churches in their community, and says that both blacks and whites in the area look down on these "poor white trash". Sociologist Max Weber described white trash as " [those] not owning slaves".Fact|date=July 2007

In literature

* In Sherwood Anderson's 1920 novel "Poor White", a Southerner who thinks of himself as "poor white trash" makes his way as an inventor in a small Midwestern town.
* In Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel, and later the movie by the same name, "Gone with the Wind", the term is used several times, always pejoratively, by both the black and the white characters. Neighbor Emmy Slattery is described by Mammy as "poor white trash" when Ellen O'Hara goes to midwife her illegitimate baby.
* In Harper Lee's 1960 novel "To Kill a Mockingbird", the Ewell family is referred to as "white trash."
* In Maya Angelou's 1969 autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings", she mentioned that the "powhitetrash" kids would come from down the hills and cause trouble at her grandmother's store in Stamps, Arkansas.
* In Chuck Palahniuk's novel "Diary", the character Misty thinks of herself as "white trash".

In film

* 1939 "Gone with the Wind", Mammy, played by Hattie McDaniel warns Scarlett O'Hara and her peers not to do certain things as it may associate them with "white trash."
* 1991 "The Silence of the Lambs", Hannibal Lecter refers to Agent Clarice Starling as poor white trash: "Good nutrition has given you some length of bone, but you're not more than one generation from poor white trash, are you, Agent Starling?" referring to her West Virginia origins and accent.
* 1992 "Siberia"
* 1993 "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?"
* 1997 "Gummo"
* 2000 "Joe Dirt"
* 2001 "Poor White Trash"
* 2002 "8 Mile" The protaginist, Jimmy (Eminem) is viewed by a gang as white trash.
* 2004 "Million Dollar Baby", Maggie (Margaret) Fitzpatrick came from a white trash family in the "Ozarks", which she ran to Los Angeles to escape from.
* 2007 "Gone Baby Gone"
* 2007 "The Simpsons Movie", Bart Simpson says: "Poor Yellow Trash"

In television

"White Trash" jokes, stereotypes and images relating to the topic can be found on the TV comedy series "Roseanne" starring Roseanne (Barr-Arnold), another TV comedy series "Blue Collar TV" starring "Redneck" comedian Jeff Foxworthy and the animated series "The Simpsons" features a poor rural white man Cletus and his wife/cousin Brandine. Many white trash stereotypes are also present in the sitcom "My Name is Earl".

In music

* "White trash (album)" was the first album by Marilyn Manson when he played in the rock band Spooky Kids.
* "White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean" is the fourth album by Californian punk rock band NOFX
* "White Trash Beautiful" is the fourth album by Everlast.
* "White Trash with Money" is the eleventh album by Toby Keith.
* "White Trash" Rob Lind is a member of Blood for Blood.
* "White Trash with Cash" is the first track on Southgang's second album "Group Therapy". [ [http://www.amazon.com/Group-Therapy-Southgang/dp/B000008KZV Amazon.com: Group Therapy: Southgang: Music ] ]
* "Edgar Winter's White Trash" is the second album by Edgar Winter.
* "White Trash Wedding" is a song on the Dixie Chicks album "Home."

ee also

* List of ethnic slurs
* Hillbilly



* Berger, Maurice (2000). "White Lies: Race and the Myths of Whiteness". ISBN 0-374-52715-6.
* Goad, Jim (1998). "The Redneck Manifesto: How Hillbillies Hicks and White Trash Became Americas Scapegoats". ISBN 0-684-83864-8.
* Hartigan, John Jr (2005). "Odd Tribes: Toward a Cultural Analysis of White People". Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-3597-2
* Mickler, Ernest Matthew (1986). "White Trash Cooking (Spiral-bound)". Ten Speed Press. ISBN 0-89815-189-9
* Pitcher, Ben (2007). The Problem with White Trash - Review of M. Wray (2007) "Not Quite White", Duke University Press. ISBN 0822338734. [http://www.darkmatter101.org/site/2007/03/12/the-problem-with-white-trash/ darkmatter journal]
* Sullivan, Nell (2003). "Academic Constructions of 'White Trash' ", in: Adair, Vivyan Campbell; Dahlberg, Sandra L. (Ed.) (2003) "Reclaiming Class. Women, Poverty, and the Promise of Higher Education in America". Temple University Press. ISBN 1-59213-021-6
* Webb, James (2004). "Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America". Broadway. ISBN 0-7679-1689-1
* Wray, Matt and Annalee Newitz, eds. (1997). "White Trash: Race and Class in America". ISBN 0-415-91692-5.

External links

* [http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/skinall.html A Question of Class by Dorothy Allison]

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  • white trash — 1831, originally Southern U.S. black slang. The slaves themselves entertain the very highest contempt for white servants, whom they designate as poor white trash. [Fanny Kemble, journal, Jan. 6, 1833] …   Etymology dictionary

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  • white trash — white′ trash′ n. usage: This term is a slur and should be avoided. It is used with disparaging intent and is perceived as insulting. 1) off soc (a contemptuous term used to refer to a member of the class of poor whites, esp. in the southern U.S.) …   From formal English to slang

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