NPR

Why It's Still OK To 'Trash' Poor White People

A lot has changed in the U.S. over two centuries. One thing that hasn't? How we talk about poor white people.
Source: LA Johnson

You can get away with calling something "white trash" in polite company, on cable television and in the headline of a magazine article. An article in The New Republic once posed the question of whether President Trump might be "a white trash icon." For some reason, the term manages to come across as less offensive than most other racial slurs.

Yet "white trash" could be called the Swiss army knife of insults. It's deft in its ability to demean multiple groups at once: white people and people of color; poor people and people who "act" like poor people; rural folks and religious folks and anyone without a college degree.

So why does "white trash" still get thrown

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR3 min read
A Daughter Talks With Her Father About Coping With Her Mother's Suicide
Sylvia Grosvold was 5 years old when her mother died by suicide. At StoryCorps, Sylvia, now 16, tells her dad how she's processed the loss. "I guess I'm stronger than I think I am," she says.
NPR3 min readSociety
R. Kelly Bribed Official To Marry 15-Year-Old Aaliyah, Government Alleges
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, N.Y., have added another charge against the R&B singer: that in 1994, he paid an Illinois official to make a fake ID that claimed that Aaliyah was 18 years old.
NPR3 min read
'At The Mountains Of Madness,' Spheroid Space Monsters Are Just Like Us
Gou Tanabe's graphic novel adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's novella makes its monsters both terrifying and weirdly human. Even if space spheres aren't your thing, Tanabe's art still prompts wonder.