phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

White trash

Posted by R. Berg on May 18, 2001

In Reply to: Implications of term posted by Kory on May 18, 2001

: : : Now I realize that "white trash" refers to poor U.S. Southerners with Caucasian complexion. But what does the term imply in terms of habits of life, social relations, ethics and such? Thanks for the help.

: : Think Bundy as in "Married with Children".

: Insensitive? Superficial? Wanna-be self-indulgent? Lascivious? Confused? Am I on the right track?

Here are some qualities included in the stereotype as I reconstruct it from my childhood in a small town in
California: Ancestry in the British Isles, immigrant ancestors came over long ago (it was more respectable to have ancestors from continental Europe who had immigrated in the 19th century, or else British ancestry of a better sort). Rural residence for several generations back, possibly in Appalachia or the Dust Bowl; current residence might be within the city limits, but if so, was on the wrong side of the tracks. Poor and destined to remain so because "those people have no ambition." Children leave school after a few years, with parents' approval; likely to become delinquent. Adults work, if at all, irregularly and at unskilled jobs; occasionally involved in criminal activity. Do not practice the middle-class virtues of controlling impulses and delaying gratification. Do not limit family size. Do not speak correct English; may be illiterate. Stupid (perhaps from inbreeding) and not intellectually curious. Untrustworthy. Not attentive to cleanliness of body and clothing, and probably have skin parasites: "Don't touch those children, dear--you might catch something."