Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Hidden Meaning of White Trash

The phrase “white trash” — you’ve probably heard it before — is used to describe poor white people. According to Wikipedia, the label “signifies lower social class and degraded standards of living”. So clearly, “white trash” is a derogatory term. But, what about the phrase’s other implications? Why don’t we have “Mexican trash”? Why don’t we have “Asian trash”?
I see the term “white trash” as a further elevation of the idea of being white. It has the ability to separate white people from other white people that are deemed as not meeting the standards of being “white”. So that, even if there are certain white people who are somehow not people that — how do I say this in a way that is politically correct? — one wants to associate with, or who somehow are not dignified enough, the ideal of being “white” can be kept up with the further separation from these groups. The phrase white trash is a subtle way of affirming “white”. The lack of “Mexican trash” or “Asian trash” hints at what exactly this affirming of whites means (to label a white person as white trash is like throwing them back into the pool of other labeled peoples).
In part, this same tactic is employed by Chris Rock when he does his standup bit on black people vs N words. Yes, it is a stand-up comedy joke, but it also exemplifies the meaning behind “white trash”. In this case, the N words are used as a separation so that black people can be elevated. The N words prevent black people from going out at night etc. etc. because they (N words) are the ones who do bad things and give black people a bad image. I claim this is exactly the same thing that is going on with the term “white trash”. White people are elevated by the separation of an undignified group in the same way.
Now the question is, what is to be done about this? Honestly, I don’t think this is a major problem. I don’t think it’s right to start creating terms like “Mexican trash” or “Asian trash”. In fact, it’s possible that each culture may have their own equivalent word that I don’t know. I just think it’s interesting that there is even a term like white trash — it couldn’t be a more blatantly contrived term. I’m just here to tell you its hidden meaning.

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