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White trash

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Egypt unveils ancient coffins, statues found in …. Samy Magdy, The Associated Press. Harris inspiring young Black Canadians toward …. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press. They were "loafers" dressed in rags and covered in filth who did no work, but accepted government relief handouts. They were seen as only slightly more intelligent than blacks. One observer, James R. Gilmore, a cotton merchant and novelist who had traveled throughout the South, wrote the book Down in Tennessee , published in , in which he differentiated poor whites into two groups, "mean whites" and "common whites".

While the former were thieves, loafers, and brutes, the latter were law-abiding citizens who were enterprising and productive. It was the "mean" minority who gave white trash their bad name and character. A number of commentators noted that poor white Southerners did not compare favorably to freed blacks, who were described as "capable, thrifty, and loyal to the Union.

Sidney Andrews saw in black a "shrewd instinct for preservation" which poor whites did not have, and Whitelaw Reid , a politician and newspaper editor from Ohio, thought that black children appeared eager to learn. Atlantic Monthly went so far as to suggest that government policy should switch from "disenfranchis[ing] the humble, quiet, hardworking Negro" and cease to provide help to the "worthless barbarian", the "ignorant, illiterate, and vicious" white trash population.

So, during the Reconstruction Era, white trash were no longer seen simply as a freakish, degenerate breed who lived almost invisibly in the backcountry wilderness, the war had brought them out of the darkness into the mainstream of society, where they developed the reputation of being a dangerous class of criminals, vagrants and delinquents, lacking intelligence, unable to speak properly, the "Homo genus without the sapien", an evolutionary dead end in the Social Darwinist thinking of the time. Plus, they were immoral, breaking all social codes and sexual norms, engaging in incest and prostitution, pimping out family members, and producing numerous in-bred bastard children.

One of the responses of Southerners and Northern Democrats after the war to Reconstruction was the invention of the myth of the " carpetbaggers ", those Northern Republican scoundrels and adventurers who invaded the South to take advantage of its people, but less well known is that of the " scalawags ", those Southern white who betrayed their race by supporting the Republican Party and Reconstruction.

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The scalawag, even if they came from a higher social class, was often described as having a "white trash heart". They were accused of easily mingling with blacks, inviting them to dine in their homes, and inciting them by encouraging them to seek social equality.

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The Democrats retaliated with Autobiography of a Scalawag , a parody of the standard " self-made man " story, in which a white trash southerner with no innate ambition nevertheless is raised to a position of middling power just by being in the right place at the right time or by lying and cheating. Around , the term "redneck" began to be widely used for poor white southerners, especially those racist followers of the Democratic demagogues of the time.

Rednecks were found working in the mills, living deep in the swamps, heckling at Republican rallies, and were even occasionally elected to be a state legislator. Such was the case with Guy Rencher, who claimed that "redneck" came from his own "long red neck". Also around , the American eugenics movement turned its attention to poor white trash. As always, they were stigmatized as being feeble-minded and promiscuous, having incestuous and inter-racial sex, and abandoning or mistreating the children of those unions.

Eugenicists campaigned successfully for laws which would allow rural whites fitting these descriptions to be involuntarily sterilized by the state, in order to "cleanse" society of faulty genetic heritages. In , Indiana passed the first eugenics-based compulsory sterilization law in the world. Thirty U. Bell , the U. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Virginia Sterilization Act of , allowing for the compulsory sterilization of patients of state mental institutions.

The beginning of the 20th century brought no change of status for poor white southerners, especially after the onset of the Great Depression. The condition of this class was presented to the public in Margaret Bourke-White 's photographic series for Life magazine, and the work of other photographers made for Roy Stryker 's Historical Section of the federal Resettlement Agency. A number of Franklin D. Roosevelt 's New Deal agencies tried to help the rural poor to better themselves and to break through the social barriers of Southern society which held them back, reinstating the American Dream of upward mobility.

Programs such as those of the Subsistence Homesteads Division of the Department of the Interior ; its successor, the Resettlement Administration, whose express purpose was to help the poor in rural areas; and its replacement, the Farm Security Administration which aimed to break the cycle of tenant farming and sharecropping and help poor whites and black to own their own farms, and to initiate the creation of the communities necessary to support those farms.

The agencies also provided services for migrant workers, such as the Arkies and Okies , who had been devastated by the Dust Bowl — the condition of which was well-documented by photographer Dorothea Lange in An American Exodus — and been forced to take to the road, jamming all their belongings into Ford motorcars and heading west toward California.

Important in the devising and running of these programs were politicians and bureaucrats such as Henry Wallace , the Secretary of Agriculture ; Milburn Lincoln Wilson , the first head of the Subsistence Homesteads Division, who was a social scientist and an agricultural expert; and Rexford G. Tugwell , a Columbia University economics professor who managed to be appointed the first head of the Resettlement Agency, despite refusing to present himself with a "homely, democratic manner" in his confirmation hearings.

Tugwell understood that the status of tenant farmers would not change if they could not vote, so he campaigned against poll tax , which prevented them voting, since they could not afford to pay it.

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His agency's goals were the four "R's": "retirement of bad land, relocation of rural poor, resettlement of the unemployed in suburban communities, and rehabilitation of farm families. Other individuals important in the fight to help the rural poor were Arthur Raper , an expert on tenancy farming, whose study Preface to Peasantry explained why the south's system held back the region's poor and caused them to migrate; and Howard Odum , a University of North Carolina sociologist and psychologist who founded the journal Social Forces , and worked closely with the Federal government.

Journalist Gerald W. Johnson translated Odum's ideas in the book into a popular volume, The Wasted Land.

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Got it! Vittoria, Ontario. Barrie, Ontario. Beaconia, Manitoba. Programs such as those of the Subsistence Homesteads Division of the Department of the Interior ; its successor, the Resettlement Administration, whose express purpose was to help the poor in rural areas; and its replacement, the Farm Security Administration which aimed to break the cycle of tenant farming and sharecropping and help poor whites and black to own their own farms, and to initiate the creation of the communities necessary to support those farms. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador.

It was Odum who, in , mailed questionnaires to academics to determine their views on what "poor white" meant to them. The results were in many ways indistinguishable from the popular views of "white trash" that had been held for many decades, since the words that came back all indicated serious character flaws in poor whites: "purposeless, hand to mouth, lazy, unambitious, no account, no desire to improve themselves, inertia", but, most often, "shiftless".

Despite the passage of time, poor whites were still seen as white trash, a breed apart, a class partway between blacks and whites, whose shiftless ways may have even originated from their proximity to blacks. Trailers got their start in the s, and their use proliferated during the housing shortage of World War II , when the Federal government used as many as 30, of them to house defense workers, soldiers and sailors throughout the country, but especially around areas with a large military or defense presence, such as Mobile, Alabama and Pascagoula, Mississippi.

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In her book Journey Through Chaos , reporter Agnes Meyer of The Washington Post travelled throughout the country, reporting on the condition of the "neglected rural areas", and described the people who lived in the trailers, tents and shacks in such areas as malnourished, unable to read or write, and generally ragged. The workers who came to Mobile and Pascagoula to work in the shipyards there were from the backwoods of the South, "subnormal swamp and mountain folk" whom the locals described as "vermin"; elsewhere, they were called "squatters".

They were accused of having loose morals, high illegitimacy rates, and of allowing prostitution to thrive in their "Hillbilly Havens". The trailers themselves — sometimes purchased second- or third-hand — were often unsightly, unsanitary and dilapidated, causing communities to zone them away from the more desirable areas, which meant away from schools, stores, and other necessary facilities, often literally on the other side of the railroad tracks. In the midth century, poor whites who could not afford to buy suburban-style tract housing began to purchase mobile homes, which were not only cheaper, but which could be easily relocated if work in one location ran out.

These — sometimes by choice and sometimes through local zoning laws — gathered in trailer camps, and the people who lived in them became known as " trailer trash ". Despite many of them having jobs, albeit sometimes itinerant ones, the character flaws that had been perceived in poor white trash in the past were transferred to so-called "trailer trash", and trailer camps or parks were seen as being inhabited by retired persons, migrant workers, and, generally, the poor. At the same time, as white privilege declines in general and minorities continue to hold a growing percentage of jobs in a declining job market, the poor white segment of the population will continue to be caught in the paradox of being a part of a privileged class, but without being able to benefit from their supposed privilege.

Being white will no longer enable them to get and hold a good job, or to earn a suitable income. Poor white people, like other oppressed minorities, are born trapped in poverty, and — again, like other minorities — are blamed for their predicament, and for not being able to "raise themselves" out of their social conditions and economic status.

Meanwhile, upper- and middle-class whites will continue to label them as "white trash" in order to solidify their feeling of superiority by making sure that "white trash" people are seen as outsiders. White trash is a central, if disturbing, thread in our national narrative. The very existence of such people — both in their visibility and invisibilty — is proof that American society obsesses mutable labels we give to the neighbors we wish not to notice.

American pop culture connects both drinking and violence to being a white, poor, rural man. White supremacist Daniel R. He used the supposed existence of poor whites with bad blood to argue that genetics and not societal structure was the problem, and that therefore slavery was justified. He called white trash the "laziest two-legged animals that walk erect on the face of the Earth", describing their appearance as "lank, lean, angular, and bony, with The prostitute Feemy says to Blanco "I'll hang you, you dirty horse-thief; or not a man in this camp will ever get a word or a look from me again.

You're just trash: that's what you are. Ernest Matthew Mickler's White Trash Cooking , based on the cooking of rural white Southerners, enjoyed an unanticipated rise to popularity. Inness writes that authors such as Mickler use humor to convey the experience of living on the margins of white society, and to expand the definition of American culinary history beyond upper-class traditions based on European cooking.

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By the s, fiction was being published by Southern authors who identified as having redneck or white trash origins, such as Harry Crews , Dorothy Allison , Larry Brown, and Tim McLaurin. Gay rights activist Amber L. Hollibaugh wrote, "I grew up a mixed-race , white-trash girl in a country that considered me dangerous, corrupt, fascinating, exotic.

I responded to the challenge by becoming that alarming, hazardous, sexually disruptive woman. Dolly Parton regularly referred to herself as white trash telling Southern Living "White trash! People always say, 'Aren't you insulted when people call you white trash? Because when you're that poor and you're not educated, you fall in those categories. President Jimmy Carter quoted a supporter who called him "white trash made good". Use of "white trash" epithets has been extensively reported in African American culture.

Some black parents taught their children that poor whites were "white trash". From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. American English slur for poor white people.

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For other uses, see White trash disambiguation. Further information: Cold Mountain novel. In Coleman, M. SAGE Publications. Code Switch. Washington, D. Archived from the original on May 25, Retrieved August 3, In Slade, A. Reality Television: Oddities of Culture. Lexington Books. Duke University Press. Quoted in Isenberg , pp. Worcester, Massachusetts. The quote from Kemble is reprinted in page 41 Archived at the Wayback Machine of the book.

In Hill, Mike ed. Whiteness: a Critical Reader. NYU Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press; quoted in Isenberg , p. Smith , NE 2 Ind. Bell U. Eastman and Douglas P. Archived from the original on March 6, Retrieved March 5, The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, The Mississippi Quarterly. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Archived from the original on Retrieved September 12, Southern Cultures. Rolling Stone. October 30, Washington Post. Retrieved March 5, — via American Prospect.