Monday, March 27, 2006


Everyone's entitled to his opinion and far be it from me to tell Chuck Darrow that he's over the top on his complaint about the use of the words "white trash". Well, okay. He's over the top.
Here's part of what he said: As offensive language goes, I find this (white trash) just as ugly, racist and hurtful as the N-word or any other. And I can't understand how a reference to any human being as "trash" is ever tolerated. To me, it's as demeaning as any other ethnic slur.

Sorry. It may be ugly, it may be hurtful but I know of no ethnic slur that beats the n-word for hideousness. And "white trash" is not an ethnic slur as much as a class slur. You wouldn't apply it to just any white person; you'd apply it to the guy with his car sitting on blocks on his front lawn, the one who gets regular visits from the cops because he beats his wife, doesn't pay his rent or is otherwise a person of some disrepute. It is very much a word from my childhood vocabulary, often, unfortunately, applied to the West Virginians and Kentuckians who'd moved north to work in the industries in my northeastern Ohio city. To be fair, while many of them seemed to have the aforementioned cars on their lawns, most of them weren't wife-beaters, targets of cops or deadbeats. We sometimes used the word to describe a woman down the block from us, who had seven kids, no husband and who went to school functions where she swept as much food as she could off the table and into a bag to take home to her kids. Yeah, she was white, and very overweight and southern. (And why we, as kids, didn't see how awful her situation was and have more compassion is more suited for another discussion. The guilt is flooding in now.)

The more common phrase today might be "trailer trash".

I object to the phrase now because by saying "white" I think we're suggesting that "trash" would ordinarily mean black, but we feel the need to modify the word. No surprise, but Wikipedia has more.

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