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October 7, 2009

"White trash" worries: Do you find this term offensive?

Sometime back, at a former workplace, some co-workers and I were joking around and using the term "white trash." Another co-worker admonished us and told us she found the term offensive, on par, she said with the N-word.

This question came up because of a recent thread of comments, where some readers were calling another reader "white trash." I wondered, should I allow this term on my blog? I don't know what I think about it. It's a term that's pretty widely used in popular American culture, but that's not necessarily a justification.

Just wanted to see what others think...

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

When i waas a kid in the deep south, the same people that routinely used the N word used the "white trash" term. Either one is demeaning and thus unacceptable in civil company.

Anonymous said...

I'm Anon 8:17. Sorry about the two typos in that post. I'm going to Peet's to correct my caffeine deficiency now!

Anonymous said...

I strongly disagree that this term is "pretty widely used in popular American culture." I don't know what circles you run around in but this term is offensive everywhere. It has very strong racial connotations.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is offensive. It incites others to rage, just as the N-word. It is meant to be demeaning. I would say, however, that it is a reflection of the person using it. I wonder what would prompt anyone to do so? Certainly not the content of yesterday's blog.

Anonymous said...

I agree that both terms are unacceptable in a civil discussion, but I would not equate "white trash" with the N-word because one term, while being offensive would be applied to a particular subset of a race and the other term equally offensive seems to be applied against all members of a race.

Lisa Mc said...

Calling someone white trash is demeaning and classist. It's putting people down for not having money, style or substance. It's putting people in their place. It's elitist and mean. My two cents.

Anonymous said...

demeaning yes, heck that is what you are doing when you call someone a name. Sticks and stones people. If I am trying to call someone a name or hurt their feelings you will call them something demeaning. Just the way it is. But there are those that think it is wrong to call someone out of their name, they are retarded.. (oops is that not PC either?)

Anonymous said...

Trash is trash regardless of the color. Whites are white regardless of the term used to describe them. Black are black regardless of the term used to describe them. The hell with politically correct, tell it like it is and get on with your lie. A word is just a bunch of letters. It is people who make it right or wrong.

MickeyMartin said...

I think it is a negative term in any respect, and has no place in a civil debate. When civility leaves the conversation, then all rules go with it...

Anonymous said...

Coming from the South, I always considered the term classist rather than racist. The intended effect is the same as the N word though -- to socially marginalize the target.

Diablo Scott said...

I'm not easily offended, but this phrase clearly doesn't carry the visceral vulgarity of the others it's being compared to.

Your decision on allowing its use on your blog should be based on the level of decorum you're trying to maintain, rather than obscenity censorship.

Anonymous said...

For some, and unfortunately, i think it is a linguistically transitional phrase in the history of human group behavior.

In other words, I think some have used it as a way to signal to others (ethnographically speaking) that there are some whites who are perhaps "just as low" as those they would also call the n-word.

People use such phrases to elevate themselves and to denigrate others - to create an "us" and "them". One can justify lots of things in life by mentally extending such distinctions between I and thou - from wars to excluding "just those ones" from birthday parties.

To classify by race is just a vulgar extension of exclusion, and most exclusion is done as a result of fear.

In other words: should someone not be a civil human being, why not just call a jerk a jerk?

Anonymous said...

Yes it is offensive to bring race/color into a civil discussion. Lots of trashy folks do it.

LeftCoast said...

Yawn

Anonymous said...

LeftCoast, how would you feel if I called you "sleepy trash". Oops, you're probably dozing off.

Annie and Maggie said...

I never have thought much of it...and yet I use that term frequently. Good point though, because of the "white" part, it's segregating a race. Not good.

The "trash" part, well...not sure; isn't it the same as calling someone a jerk, a moron, or a creep (as in: "You're acting like trash.")?

As for me, I'll reconsider the use of that whole phrase. Thank you for bringing it up.

P.S. The sick-humored side of me so wanted to end that last paragraph with: Thank you for bringing it up asswipe - but then again, that might get my post bumped off. :-)

Anonymous said...

Well it is used to offend, sure. If people don't say one thing it is another. Is it appropriate in the context of commenting on a blog post? probably not, but people still say it and some are offended others are not. I guess people could just say "trash" that may ease it ...

Example:

@Anon 8:56 -- I wouldn't consider retarded un-PC either. If someone does something and I say retarded, I mean it. They are being socially retarded. I'm not bashing the people who are mentally retarded, the word has more than one meaning.

LeftCoast said...

LOL Anon. Good one now that I am awake and have read it. I just can't tell which of the 13 Anons you are though.

Anonymous said...

Y'all, I gets my hide all upturned when some yokel calls me white trash. But I'll tell ya, I pull up my pants over the crack since I don't wanna be the butt of no darn jokes, and looks them square in their yokel eyes and I smiles, pick out the food left between my last two good teeth and after I spits on the street in front of them I walk away, butt crack and all because sticks n stoners wont break my bones by name callin just shows how stupid some folks can be.

Anonymous said...

Given the fact that the system is still titled in Caucasians' favor, I don't think "white trash" is a racially loaded statement on a par with the N word, but it does seem like an elitist class statement.

Then again, there are poor people with lots of class (it itself, that's yet another "class bias" term), and rich, powerful people who are tacky as hell (why DO so many people with lots of money have so little taste, by the way??)... so there we are. Back to square one.

Anonymous said...

oops, in my 7:30 post, I meant to say the system is TILTED in Caucasians' favor (not "titled," ha).

Typo on my part. Going crosseyed from too many work hours online! And of course, there's the need for reading glasses at this point (ahem) ...

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Dear Crazy in Suburbia,

Yep, time to look at your unmoderated posting policy. Do it sooner rather than later.

Soccer Mom said...

10:47 p.m.
Sorry that those comments were sitting up there. Maybe I will have to look at my policy. This has not been much of an issue, and I can catch them quickly.

Lisa Mc said...

I find that "dirtbag" works for me.

LeftCoast said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

White Trash. Rattlesnake handling, bible reading retarded inbreds.

Obvious.

Anonymous said...

What if you take out the "white" and replace it with "trailer." I hear "trailer trash" much more often than "white trash," and in this case it's clearly a class distinction, not racial.

Do people feel differently though, if it's not racist? Could there be black and white trailer trash?

I'm not condoning the phrase, but I am surprised that no one's brought this term up yet.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, people. GTF over it. It's NOTHING like the "N" word (that euphemism is even WORSE than the actual word , because it makes everyone sound like a bunch of 4-year olds in the sandbox going, "UMMMMMMMM! You said the "N" word! I'm tellin'!" I'd spell out the word if I didn't KNOW my comment would be deleted, because it's like calling someone who's been RAPED "sexually abused" when they were actually RAPED, not just "touched" or whatever; stupid news reporters don't want to offend their sensitive little viewers with the harsh REALITY of the "R" word because they 're afraid to call it what it is. The---UMMMM!---"N" word is offensive; I see no reason why it has to be referred to as that when paraphrasing someone else's offensive comments.....). I'm white--I call my OWN household white trash at times, because half the time, we live in hoarding conditions and it FITS. I am SO effing tired of "politically correct". BTW, we're not a low-income family in the least--we just happen to be slobs and hoarders. White trash has nothing to do with class where I'm coming from--people with MONEY are as tacky as not, i.e. the Kardashians are a perfect example of trash as far as people go. God man, stop getting offended by everything and grow a thicker skin.