Talk:White trash/Archive 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

"White trash" is Trash that are white people. IE: uncivilized, uneducated, unemployed, low morals, bad upbringing, no goals etc. Usually embodying a cornucopia of undesirable traits with one or two positive ones. It’s not hard to figure out what it means when you look at it as simply as possible. You can usually recognize it when you see it but it is also a loose and sometimes subjective description. Lower Middle class can be "trash " to the upper middle class. I personally believe that the most acute criteria for being judged “ Trash” is the person’s character and actions. Some people are poor but are not trash; they have just caught a few too many bad breaks. Some people with lots of money are still obviously "trashy", but just have more money ( usually through nefarious means such as drug dealing ). Most trash generally seem to enjoy being poor though. I imagine its like being a kid forever. There are almost no responsibilities. No career, No cleaning around the house, No paying for college. They don’t take very good care of their children but they are always having more of them. Sometimes the authorities take the children away, but trash will invariably just have some more. I'm not absolutely sure about the reasoning behind this behavior, is it a basic “ trash 101” ruse for welfare/ child support benefits? Is there any reasoning at all? Possibly it is just a base instinct to procreate over and over. The children being status symbols of the potency of the trash buck, and the verdancy in the trash female’s uterus. Although I feel trash can be anyone from any race it is usually used in the form of “ white trash”, because these people live there lives as an embarrassment to progressive “ well to do” white people, despised, marginalized and “ thrown away” by there own race. As the western cultures continue to push the boundaries of Technology, Arts and the Sciences. The white trash’s biggest accomplishments seem to be confined to successfully completing probation or getting a 1982 Camero started. They have become ingrained to be ignorant, grimy and without prospects for the future. And I suspect they instinctively know that they would not have the will or the tools to better their condition even if they ever chose to.

I think this page represents an interesting phenomenon--not the phenomenon of so-called "white trash," but the phenomenon of what Wikipedians feel emboldened to write about. On the one hand, for all I know, the notion of "white trash" is actually studied by sociologists and cultural anthropologists (yep--[1] and [2], for example--look at his dissertation topic). So, books have been written about it. People have sweated over dissertations about it. Anyway, I am just guessing that Matt Stoker wrote about the topic simply because he is a very active, intelligent member of American society, in which the notion of "white trash" is sometimes bandied about. In writing about it, he has simply codified what an active, intelligent member of the society can explain and infer about the concept. I just think this is interesting, in that it illustrates just the sort of phenomenon that makes the notion of "white trash" interesting from an anthropological point of view in the first place.

I will leave it up to those who know more about the topic to pass judgment whether the current article is unbiased or not. --User:LMS

Actually, I saw an uncreated link to "White trash" on the Married with Children page and thought, "What the heck, why don't I get the ball rolling?" Besides, I needed a break from writing about things I really know something about, such as Phases of matter, Gibbs phase rule and the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution. BTW, prior to writing the initial entry I did take a look at [3], but most of the thoughts are my own, so if there are any sociologists out there, please make corrections as needed. --User:Matt Stoker

From the outside looking in (I'm Australian, have only visited the states briefly), your definition seems overly broad - I considered that the term usually implied people who were living in very poor conditions with unstable homes, violent relationships, alcoholism and drug use, long-term unemployment, and so on. The Simpson family - to take a fictional example - while certainly not wealthy have a husband with a steady and respectable job (safety technician at a nuclear power station), a stable, loving, and equal relationship, attend church regularly, and while Homer drinks to excess on occasion it does not overly damage his relationships or job performance (such as it is :), and yet you are placing his family as "white trash". -- User:Robert Merkel

Actually, in the episode with Reverend Lovejoy's daughter Jessica, she refers to Bart as "yellow trash". It is common for the Simpsons to make reference to peculiarities of animation such as four fingers; this was obviously meant to imply "white trash" in a medium where white folks happen to be yellow. --LDC

I don't think "white trash" implies such a state of abject poverty, just that they are poor and not upwardly mobile. Admittedly, the Simpsons would be near the upper limit for "white trash", but I still think they qualify. I hope others will join in and state their opinions on the matter. Are the Simpsons white trash? If not, do any other characters in the mentioned television shows qualify? For the record, I included the Drew Carey show because Mimi frequently refers to herself as "Trailer park trash". -- Matt Stoker

"White trash" to me has always implied both poverty and squalor, but that does not mean it's necessarily correct. We should probably be careful about drawing inferrences from fiction; perhaps the screewriters and / or the actress playing Mimi also have a poor understanding of what "white trash" is, according to sociologists. --KQ

What's of interest to anthropologists is not just the life of people who are sometimes insulted with the epithet "white trash" but the very phenomenon of people using the epithet. That's probably as important and interesting as anything you might mention about the lives of poor rural white folks. --User:LMS

IMO, Larry is dead on here, speaking as a native of Tennessee.

Fair enough.

The tone of the article suggests that the writer does not count any of these ``white trash people as personal friends. A far more simple definition of white trash would be someone who believes that dismantling automobiles, and leaving dismantled automobiles (possibly for decades), in one's front yard, ain't nobodies business.

But this coming from someone who understands the value of a trailer in the ozarks vis-a-vis a loft in downtown San Fran.

Growing up I had plenty of friends in the lower economic classes (at least if you count 8+ kids in a single wide trailer or our neighbors who used to feed us Twinkies and Ding-Dongs, which they got out of the dumpster behind the day-old bread store), but I never regarded any of them as "trash", so perhaps you're right. -- User:Matt Stoker

User:Jimbo Wales here --

I grew up in Alabama, I own a 12 gauge shotgun, and my granddaddy was a sharecropper. I feel qualified to speak with some authority on the subject. (I also collect fine wine and own a Ferrari, so maybe my credentials don't count for much here.)

The Simpsons could be white trash, if only Homer Simpson would be a little less diligent about mowing his lawn.

- The Simpsons are sometimes called yellow trash.

Hank and Peggy Hill of The King Of The Hill are most decidedly not white trash. Hank, after all, is a successful salesman of propane and propane related accessories, while Peggy is a substitute teacher in Ess-pan-yole at Tom Landry Middle School. They are upstanding members of the community, and not even a particularly disfunctional family. (Perhaps the author is not familiar with the show and jumped to a conclusion?)

Admittedly, I'm not very familiar with "The King of the Hill", but I was under the impression that some of Hank and Peggy's friends, who are significant characters on the show are "white trash", in which case the listing would still be appropriate. Is this not the case? -- User:Matt Stoker

Al and Peg Bundy of Married with Children are almost certainly white trash, even though they are yankees from Chicago as well. They've probably never eaten possum, but only because one never died on their front porch.

Drew Carey in The Drew Carey Show is solidly middle class. He is (or was) a manager at a department store. He owns a home. He isn't wealthy, but he surely isn't poor.

Actually, I agree with you on this one. As stated above, I only listed the show because Mimi constantly calls herself "trailer park trash". I don't think any of the other characters could be considered as such. -- User:Matt Stoker

Cheers? Good grief, no. These people live in Boston! They are barflies, to be sure, but not white trash. Norm was an accountant. Cliff is a postal worker. Ted Danson's character (forgot the name, egads!) is a retired professional athlete. Maybe Karla has a white trash background, but her story is hardly the focus of the show. I never saw a shotgun or chewing tobacco once.

Karla was definitely white trash. Woody's background was white trash. Cliff might be, but more because of his disfunctional relationships than his economic status. At first I thought he definitely was, but now I'm not so sure. Misfit? yes. White trash, maybe not. Norm was usually not white trash, but may have become such during a few episodes while he was unemployed. The other characters definitely weren't. Despite a cast that was primarily not "white trash" the show did frequently deal with or at least make fun of "white trash" issues through the characers of Karla and Woody. -- User:Matt Stoker

From some of the above posts, I get the impression that many people feel that "white trash" applies predominantly to people in the south or in rural areas. For me (originally from rural Washington State) "white trash" does not cannote a specific locale and can be applied to both urban and rural dwellers. On the other hand the terms "redneck" and "hillbilly" do indeed imply a rural or Southern locale. Do others agree or are all three terms synonymous? -- User:Matt Stoker

Redneck refers to the actual state of a person's neck as a result of spending a large amount of time outdoors, whether it be bustin sod or running cattle. Plenty of these in Montana, Iowa, Tennessee, Vermont, etc.

Hillbillies: lots of them in the Sierra Nevada racheer in Callyforny.

White trash don't mow the yard (ain't much to mow these last 10 years, what with all that motor oil out there under the sugar maple), or clean up the dog piles from the Blue (Red) Tick operation in the side yard. (Speaking of which, Jimbo, the most impressive Red Tick breeder I ever saw was outside of Paint Rock. He had at least 40 hounds chained up, 35 of which were standing on their damn dog houses howling when we drove by. Cool.) Regular country folk build kennels, down by the barn.

But these are really fine hairs to split here on wikipedia, where most people would not care to know either 1. any such people, or 2. the difference between them.

The emergence and popularity of these shows likely reflected the economic trends of the time, during which rapid growth and prosperity in the stock market greatly benefited the upper classes, but left many in the middle and lower classes feeling left behind and somewhat hopeless. Thus the average American could sympathize with the situation of the "white trash" characters, while at the same time feeling slightly superior themselves.

This is more of an op-ed than a neutral POV. I'd be happy to see it reinstated if anyone could provide actual data suggesting the poor and middle-class have not enjoyed economic gains in recent decades.

Agreed, I'm just glad the page has gotten such a response. Admittedly, I'm not an expert, so please wiki-on everyone! -- User:Matt Stoker

Continuing in the op-ed vein, my hunch is that the economic prosperity enjoyed by the lower-middle to working class is more related to not being laid off lately, rather than enjoying increasing earnings potential.

Economists prefer data to hunches. If this hunch is true, you could probably find lots of economists who have already proven it with the data. But you won't.

From 1984 to 1994, the percentage of poor American households who possessed a washing maching rose from 58.2 to 71.7. Dryer - 35.6 to 50.2. Microwave - 12.5 to 60. Color TV - 70.3 to 92.5. VCR - 3.4 to 59.7. Personal computer - 2.9 to 7.4. Telephone - 71 to 76.7. Air conditioner - 42.5 to 49.6. One or more cars - 64.1 to 71.8. For many of these items, ownership among the poor had surpassed the national average from 25 years earlier.

The data support the view that the benefits of economic expansion are indiscriminate.

Those same data might also support the view that credit is being extended indiscriminately.

The question is whether the economic expansion benefitted only the rich, or whether it also benefitted those that were not rich. Comments, to be relevent, should touch on this question.

The comment is relevant, thank you; it points out that there is more than one way to interpret the data that you had assumed had only one interpretation.

I would say that the data address the wrong question. Few would argue that the lower economic classes didn't benefit at all from economic expansion, but the real question is how did the benefits to the lower classes compare to those for the upper classes? If middle and lower class incomes rose by 10% and upper class incomes rose by 1000% then "average Americans" may still have felt "left behind".--User:Matt Stoker

Economists. Data. Harumph. Lot's of ways to interpret economic data: the right way, the wrong way, and my way...

Was it Mark Twain who said that economists are right behind thieves, used car salesmen, and politicians? or was that statisticians? -- User:mike dill

Twain came up with lies, damn lies, and statistics

Sounds like Twain (who also, in his later days, said something to the effect that God shouldn't expect any gratitude for creating humanity, since no one asked him to). I think his bitterness nearly outraced his wit.  ;-) --KQ

Am I the only one who questions the notion that they are politically conservative? While many may staunchly guard their right to own a shotgun or hunt, how many of them are pro-union? How many vote for democrats that support the "working man"? It seems to me that most of the conservative values they might uphold are more of the type of "rural" values that either party might have subscribed to in the past. they are more cultural remnants of a stagnant social class than adherence to a political motivation. Another example might be the confederate flag issue. that's more of a southern thing when you get down to it than a left-right thing.

Additionally, many people I might classify as "white trash" don't espouse any sort of religious doctrine (though some might occasionally to justify some personally held belief). Not because they are atheist, but because they are too scummy to put up with the rigorous moral upkeep of religion, and too dumb to read the anything, let alone the bible.

Being a leftover "rebel" that treats his wife like a servant and loves his shotgun doesn't make him necessarily a conservative, it just makes him a hick.

Yup. White trash is no more likely to vote one way or another, if they vote at all.

The Stars 'n' Bars thing is a riot: How many pickups in West (By God) Virginia don't fly the flag (note to non-usians: West Virginia went Union. They had virtually no economic ties to the Tidewater slave-owning gentry). Same in East Tennessee, a strongly pro-Union region. And it is a southern thing (American by birth, Southern by the Grace of God, etc), not a left vs. right, rich vs. poor, white-trash vs. decent-country-folk thing.

It would be really cool if someone could extend the main page more, with more than anecdotal writing. It's likely that usian white trash shares a lot of common traits with people of similar mentality in other cultures, and this would be fun to read about.

Explaining my edit about Jim Goad

Hope I'm posting this in the right spot. Didn't want to post it under the "Archives" heading, because I didn't think that was appropriate. If that's where it belongs, please feel free to move this. Anywho: this article was in need of some proofreading, which I did some of. I made other changes, which I’m not going to review, but I think the most major is (although really rather minor) what follows. We had:

I’m going to review what I changed point by point, so even if someone disagrees, at least they know where I’m coming from. First, the link was to Wiki:1997 in Literature, and the text displayed the same, so it basically said the year his book was published was “1997 in literature,” which is absurd. Next, I took the liberty of changing “Historical Outlook” to “social commentary. One, these words shouldn’t be capitalized. Two, nothing I find online (ie Amazon) gives me the idea that it refers to history whatsoever. It seems more current. Also, “historical outlook” seems like a weird way to describe a book, but that’s just me. This is the edit I made that is least important to me, but I think it’s more accurate. Nontheless, if you disagree, I won’t be party to an edit war . Finally, the sentence ended with “quotes Goad.” First, quotes implies he’s using someone else’s words. If he is, this needs to be established…but I doubt he is, so I replaced it with “he says.” I also put it before the quote, because it serves as a good transition into the quote, and there wasn’t one. Thanks for listening to me blabber. I know it’s just a sentence, but we should all strive to make Wikipedia the best it can be. Also, agreement from the majority is important to me, so I figured I’d present my reasoning. The sentence, rewritten, looks like this:

  • In Jim Goad's 1997 social commentary The Redneck Manifesto, he says "Through relentless exposure to images of lowlife undesireability, we are led to sniff disdainfully at the sour stench of retrograde Eurosweat."

Hope this issue hasn't been reviewed, I skimmed the talk page archive and saw nothing about it. Thanks again. Cheers! -"Yes...It's Raining" 00:55, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

Archives: Archive 1

"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 financially disadvantaged caucasians"

This unsourced statement sounds dubious to me. How many upper class non-white Southerners were there in the 1830s? Melaena (talk) 21:50, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

-- The term white trash may historically be racist because it was a way to distinguish average whites (considered superior in racist societies) from inferior whites. In a racist mindset there is no term to distinguish among different African-Americans because they were all considered inferior. Thus by even using this term, one is invoking these racist concepts. Instead it might be better to just refer to people as trashy, if that is what you want to say. Ticino55 (talk) 16:26, 20 March 2010 (UTC) --

Clarification: this term IS racist

I just wanted to clarify the fact that this term is racist. If you call a black person "black trash", there would be no doubt that it was racist. The same standard has to apply for White trash and it will.

You can't really base your argument by comparing the word to "black trash" because there isn't such a word, and we could never know the real connotation of the term. What if, hypothetically, middle class black people started to use the term "black trash" to describe lower class blacks. Would it still be racist? (talk) 00:07, 20 July 2008 (UTC)

"White trash" fits the definition of racism: "Discriminatory behaviour or remarks towards other races" - white trash is a such remark.

"White Trash" hardly remarks on a person's race. The label might be limited to white people, but the term makes fun of someone's social class and economic status. (talk) 00:07, 20 July 2008 (UTC)

And other then this, white trash does not only apply to European-descendant whites. It applies to every person thats white (light-skinned) and is culturally, socially or economically poor. This includes arabs too. 23:05, 12 May 2007 (UTC)

Anonymous, I think you may misunderstand what "neutral" means on Wikipedia. Please read WP:NPOV and WP:V. We should be trying to characterize published arguments, not arguing the issue ourselves, as you seem to be doing above. --Allen 03:29, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
My edits dont contain original research. My justification contains argumentation, but so does yours. Classifying a term "racist" is not original research - I did not define racism or create the term. 18:16, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
Please take a look at WP:NOR#Synthesis_of_published_material_serving_to_advance_a_position. My edits on talk pages contain all sorts of argumentation, but hopefully my additions to articles don't contain unsourced argumentation, at least not beyond the most trivial and uncontroversial. While I agree that "white trash" is a racist term, it seems that others do not. Perhaps there is consensus among experts that "white trash" is racist; if we had sources we could say so. --Allen 20:39, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
Okay, so I admit that again, I lost the battle against the racial double standard. It annoys me, but I acknowledge that I have no power over this. The fact that non-whites also use "white trash" should be enough. Black trash, the black version, would be on a level similar to the N-word. I just wish racial equality and justice could prevail, but thats not the will of the people apparently. 15:24, 14 May 2007 (UTC)
How can it be racist when it refers to a socioeconomic bracket specifically. White trash != all whites as causation of ethnicity. Further, we have similar terms for blacks, gangsters, hoodlums, etc. These are also not racist because they are not predicated on the inherent inferiority of a given ethnicity. Vrlak (talk) 19:39, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
I see this is an OLD comment thread, but in case anyone is still contemplating this, I wanted to talk about it. I don't think it's a racist term at all. What you have to realize is that the words aren't really linked to each other. White trash means someone is white, and they are trash. Black trash would mean someone was black, and trash. I can understand objecting to something ridiculous, like n****r trash, but that's only because the descriptive word is racist. White is not racist. Black is not racist. White trash is not racist. Racism implies superiority of one race over another. I surely don't think "white trash" implies all whites are trash. It'd be like if "Chinese jerk" were a term - no, it does not imply "Chinese people are jerks," just that the particular person it is directed at is Chinese, and a jerk. Secondly, does it matter to the article? Is there a section saying it's racist, or do you want to add one? If the first, I'd say let it go, and if the latter, I disagree on the basis of the above points. Just wanted to throw in my two cents. Thanks!

-"Yes...It's Raining" 01:08, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

Is this racist???

21 Jan 2007: the current version of this page has been edited to read 'since all white people are racists....' - is there any way of perhaps banning further postings from this IP address? --

If "white trash" is considered a racist slur, would calling an Asian "yellow trash" or a Black "Black Trash" be a slur also? I've had public school teachers who used the term openly and loudly in class to refer to less-than-educated-and-well-behaved people in their class. Nobody considered it racist. And many people I know use "white trash" to refer to other Caucasians they consider their inferiors in terms of education, class, or profession. It has nothing to do with race. It's a deragatory term, yes, but not racist.

Oh, and the "Jerry Springer" analogy is extremely accurate, especially within the Chicago area. It's a general stereotype that not only does "white trash" appear on this show, but that its audience is also white trash.

re: i definitely see a big chunk of that racist, and removed it. it would have been acceptable if it was "racist" in an academic manner. however, it sounds alot more like just plain slander against white people in general. things like "because non-whites are generally more aware of racial issues" especially. they aren't even presented as theories or possibilities, but plainly as fact.

Re: The term "white trash" is not in the least a derogatory term that refers to the white race. It does not refer to the race in its entirety, but to a subset of it. It is a derogatory term it is true, but it is typically directed towards a subset of whites: working class uneducated whites. The term “white trash” is akin to “redneck” it connotes a subset of white that is typically, poor, uneducated and because of this irrational in their behavior.
Public school teachers are racist often enough, as well as imperfect in other ways, and just because no one notices something doesn't mean it doesn't happen. If it had nothing to do with race, why would race be included in the term? Why would the term itself, and its users, bring up race if they weren't saying something about it? Hyacinth 05:04, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

I am curious as to how you think that "white trash" is not derogatory? It is a term that specificly identifies the race of the person and that the person is garbage. Just because a race adopts a term and uses it for their own use does not stop that term from being derogatory when used by others. Think about the N-word as used by African Americans. They use the term but that does not make it less racist or more acceptable when other people use the term. Also the fact that it has widespread use also does not limit the fact that it is derogatory. In the past many racial slurs were commonly used that does not make them less offensive.

The term White Trash is much different than the word Nigger. It's true, many African Americans use the N word to describe each other, but in that context, the term is being used affectionately. When someone who is not black uses the word, it is almost always derogatory. Now white trash...well that's always derogatory, even when being used by whites against other whites, because few whites would ever consider themselves white trash. Though the term is limited to white people, the term is derogatory because it insults the poor. It's not insulting anyone for being white. The term really isn't racist. It's classist. (talk) 00:01, 20 July 2008 (UTC) 10:38, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

"Racial epitaph"? Sounds ominous, a reference to the incarnation of the demise of the white race? Or did you mean "epithet"? What's the "N-word"? Would that be the racial epithet that dare not speak its name? Unlike "white trash" of course. 10:38, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

Someone keeps changing this from reading a 'racial' slur to read an 'ethnic slur'. Race is a sub class of ethnicity, and since 'white' refers to race, and not any other ethnic factor, it is clearly a racial slur. A black cannot be "white trash", nor can an asian be "white trash, regardless of their national, tribal, religious, or linguistic ethnic factors.

The difference is the difference between saying polar bears are white versus polar bears are an unspecified color.User Anonyplus (talk) 22:21, 10 April 2008 (UTC)White Trash are just like Black Trash, Yellow Trash, Red Trash and Brown Trash. Only paler.



Perhaps I'm being over-cautious, but I'm somewhat leery of the picture of 3 people being called "white trash". That might be a personal attack on real people. Besides, I don't see what's "white trash"y about them, except for the fact that they're white and poor. If poor qualifies as "trash", then a lot of people are (unfairly) being thrown into that category. Mike Church 21:18, 5 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Imho you are right after all this is supposed to be an encyclopedia and i do not find the picture helpful at all.In particular white trash isn't really recognized by those visuals, but a combination of looks, speech, action and social surroundings of a person.

The picture shouldn't identify another group or organization (such as a University.) I know it's temping to be able to say "look up 'white trash' on the wikipedia and you'll find a picture of our collegiate rivals." I don't think that a picture is needed. -Red

  • The purpose of the photograph is not to bash another school, but the member of the photograph displays many of the characteristics from the article. If you wish to photoshop out the logo feel free. AStudent 02:52, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

Of course..., is just a coincidence. The argument that the picture displays MANY of the characteristics from the article is incorrect.Red and Guilty 16:20, 14 July 2006 (UTC)(signed after the fact-sorry)

Hahaha. If I took my digital camera to a Spartan tailgate, I could provide a lifetime supply of white trash photos.

This view is a somewhat laughable and an oversimplification of what Hollywood's view of white trash is. People who are unfairly pegged as "white trash" suffer no less the consequences that the minority groups who are condemned for being non-white suffer.

We are talking more classism and less racism. The same so-called white race who sees me as a white piece of trash has the same amount of respect for my white heritage as their racist ass has for a person of color. The classim has more to do with bank accounts than skin colors.

So, we have this definition of classistic/racial slur and a photo next to it with the lines "White trash and the law after a Molly Hatchet concert". Fair enough. So how about inserting some other photos with similar lines next to them into other entries on racial slurs ("Police forces arresting some broke niggers in front of a liquor store", "Rich Kikes buying their way out of NYPD custody"?) After all, everybody has the right to be insulted on Wikipedia.

Might not be a bad idea to use a well know representative of the white trash social class as a picture. Perhaps a self-described white trash individual. Or we could just put a picture of Kevin Federline. Davelapo555 17:20, 13 March 2007 (UTC)


User:Colinpcarr has added a lot of nonsense that isn't even complete sentences. I'm reverting. RickK 04:27, 1 May 2004 (UTC)

Rickk - you can revert because it was nonsense but those were complete sentences.  :-)

Proclivity toward Extreme Urban Camping. Shift from historical kinship and marriage toward a vast array of family types, including less prohibitive exogamic and class endogamic rules. are complete sentences? RickK 04:53, 1 May 2004 (UTC)

Except that fragment :-)

I've noted that Colinpcarr is responsible for all of the "White trash in the 21st century" section, none of which makes any sense to me. It appears to be talking about some kind of obscure "white trash" aesthetic or philosophy (??), but it's too poorly written for me to make any sense of it. Colinpcarr: if you really want to write about this, I would recommend that you make a new article entitled something like "White trash (aesthetic)", and that you make it clear what in the world you're talking about. The main article is about the pejorative term to describe people, As it is, Colinpcarr's contributions are just baffling, so I've cut them entirely. Here they are:

Cultural aesthetics of White Trash communities in the 21st century.
The word 'White Trash' has very little content of its own. It is a sign; a pointer in reference to other concepts, like the word 'South.' The White Trash ethos resists unified, all-encompassing, and universally valid explanations. It replaces these with a respect for difference and a celebration of the rustic and particular at the expense of property value. White Trash likewise entails a rejection of the emphasis on rational discovery through the scientific method, or even common sense. At its foundation, then, the White Trash outlook is anti-rational.
Northern White Trash: Preservation of communal identities in the White Trash Diaspora. Current migration movements and the role of a nation’s Diaspora.
Southern White Trash:
Jerry Springer and White Trash Renaissance: Art and co-opting of culture.

--Shibboleth 03:04, 25 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Headline text


No one I've ever spoken with who is familiar with the term "white trash" considers it anti-black racism. The notion is downright silly. I think this should be deleted. "White trash," was a term that referred to a group of white people based on their socioeconomic status and certain cultural affectations, as opposed to just plain "trash," which, back in the day was used commonly in the context of morality. The term was actually "POOR white trash." They were poor white folks -- and they were considered "trash" -- for any number of reasons. Historically, there was often a mutual antagonism between PWT and slaves -- an antagonism that served those who weilded power over both groups: the voters, landed gentry, the slaveholders. PWT needed the work for pay that black folks were forced to do for free. The very house slaves who used the term most often thought themselves better than PWT -- and, indeed, were often better off, materially. PWT resented the fact that these "inferiors" looked down on them and were better dressed, sometimes better fed. PWT often were employed by slaveholders to do their dirty work for hire when it came to tracking down runaways (they had -- or trained -- the coondogs and needed to make a few bucks). Many overseers were particularly brutal because they were NOT landed gentry/aristocracy; they were PWT for hire. There was no love loss between the two groups.

Black folks originated the term "poor white trash"! It was clearly not about anti-black racism. This ridiculous notion stems from people's ignorance and annoying compulsions to be overly PC in matters of race/ethnicity. I'm getting rid of it! If someone disagrees strongly enough, they can put it back. But for now, it's outta here.

So, moved:

Some people argue that "white trash" is racist, not because it includes the word "white", but because it implies that trashiness is the normal state for black people and thus when a white person is trashy it must be specified that the person is white.

Now, about this business of what's most offensive -- my inclination is to delete this info also, because it's just plain inaccurate. I've heard on numerous occasions folks with "poor white trash" roots refer to themselves and their families as "white trash." Hell, I even have a "White Trash Cookbook," and have seen numerous in-print examples of self-referential use. I don't know who the author speaks to, but it's common.

  • Well, I do object strongly to the removal of that sentence, so as you suggest, I have put it back. Please note that the sentence doesn't argue that the origin of the term was anti-black racism, which would as you say be historically incorrect. It argues that "white trash" is — that is, is today, words can drift any distance from their historical origin, as linguists know — racist, in the sense of expressing anti-black racism. The proud self-referential use of "white trash" that you mention wouldn't have any problem with fitting into this angle on the word. C 'mon, it's an encyclopedia, it needs to include this well-reasoned interpretation of what use of the word implies today, as well as give its history, and of course give other interpretations. Taking it out has just left an obvious hole in the article, IMO. --Bishonen 15:03, 12 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Frankly, if I were to choose a single term as being most offensive, it would be "trailer trash." Certain "white-trash" cultural characteristics used to be implicit in the term "trailer trash," but growing numbers of people who are not from white-trash backgrounds also live in mobile homes. And they -- as well as their hard-luck, "white-trash" neighbors -- take great umbrage at the term. But "white trash" increasingly speaks to cultural affectations (note the dropping of "poor" from the original term), more than socio-economic status -- the pastimes, the dress, the food, etc. -- and is used self-referentially with ease and humor. -- deeceevoice, June 27, 2004

I don't mind your deletion particularly, deeceevoice, but I'll just mention that according to Wikipedia NPOV policy, the convention is to neutrally express all points of view which are commonly held and the arguments which defenders of those positions use, regardless of whether or not they're right or wrong. I think some "PC" people would indeed believe that "white trash" connotes racism against non-whites.
You've raised interesting points about the history of the term "white trash". I think they should be added to the article. You could say something like "Some people believe the term denotes racism against blacks, but historically it originated from black people themselves ..." and go on to include in the article what you wrote here in a more encyclopedic tone. Also, feel free to rewrite (don't just delete) the offensiveness stuff if you think it's inaccurate. --Shibboleth 08:43, 28 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Shibboleth, I'm a little pressed for time, but it's my intention to return in couple of weeks to do just that. Removal of the passage was just a temporary measure. Peace. -- deeceevoice 14:23, 28 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Deeceevoice, apparently you just came back and removed the sentence again. This is my first time ever editing anything on Wikipedia, but I'm outraged: I am in fact one of those "'PC' people" who does indeed believe that the term reeks of racism against non-whites. To me, it's just obvious: why is the race mentioned here at all? Why does it just happen to refer to the dominant race in the U.S., but is never used with any other race? Could it be that "black trash" is considered redundant? That's the clear implication to me.

So I'm re-adding the sentence.


was it not stated that the term originated with the slaves? why would they be racist against themselves? Novium 01:26, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Jerry Springer

I think the link to The Jerry Springer Show I added was unfairly deleted. As it is, this article hardly says anything about what it is to be white trash. I wanted to build it up a little, and The Jerry Springer Show is the first thing that comes to mind when most people hear the words white trash. I'm going to add the link again, hopefully someone will want to write about the definition of white trash instead of just the so-called controversy surrounding the term. -- CPS 03:39, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)