Now, before you get all upset with me for writing those words, I want to be clear. I am calling myself that… sort of.
The hastily scanned together pictures above show a small snapshot of where I grew up. Though, I am not sure where I am in the picture where I am holding a beer. I just thought a picture of me holding a beer as a child fit somehow. No judgement. I think it’s cute. It just fit.
The picture of the Rallye Sport Pinto is also there to show you not only the trailers around mine, but the sweet ride I saved up and bought for myself. I truly loved that car, so don’t you even say anything mean about her.
Ok, so my point.
I grew up poor white trash. I had it all. Absentee father. Single mom who worked three part time jobs. Latch key kid at 9 years old, the same age I started earning money as a babysitter. Cars that broke down weekly. A trailer with holes in the floor. Some kids selling drugs at the grocery store in the trailer park. Sexual abuse, which I talk about in this blog.
I also had a mom and two grandparents who loved me, dearly. I had a roof over my head. I had clothes, and really did not care that most came in a black Hefty garbage bags from Mom’s friends at work… because her friends’ kids had great taste. I had “food”, or something to eat and drink. (My kids would be shocked at what I ate, but hey… I had “food”.) And…
I had white skin.
Despite kids calling me “trailer trash”, and some “friends” beating me up in the bathroom on the daily, and my nightmare abuse, I had an advantage. I had white privilege.
So many people don’t really get it, but I do.
There was not one day, not one, when I was afraid of a police officer. They were always there to protect me. In my life, there wasn’t a bad one in the lot. I love and am friends with many officers to this day, so I still believe in more good than bad, by far. However, I am also white.
I was called “trailer trash”, but I was not discriminated against because of my skin color. No one held a purse close to the chest when I walked by. No one, as far as I could tell, assumed I was a criminal. No one denied me service or entrance into a place of business.
I didn’t go to school and celebrate great heroes of our history, and know they held my ancestors as slaves. I assumed, as a child, that I was getting the full picture. I am ashamed to say I didn’t have that until I was in my 20s. My history lessons were most certainly white-washed. I didn’t know any better. I was white.
If you are white, you hold a certain level of this white privilege. Listen, seriously, if I can say it… than anyone can. It bears repeating: I grew up in a trailer, without a dad, sexually abused from the age of 4 to 13, poor, and called names. I was beaten up in middle school for being white. I still had white privilege.
Don’t believe me?
Let me see if this helps.
Neo-nazis, the KKK, alt-right groups, and all other white supremacists marched into Charlottesville, VA to protest the removal of a statue honoring Confederate and succession supporter, Robert E. Lee. They had a legal permit for that protest. While they protested, they were carrying guns and hunting knives. Vice News embedded a reporter who watched one of the white supremacist take several guns and a knife off his person at the end of the day. (I highly suggest watching that link I provided. It is disturbing and something everyone should watch.)
As the white supremacist unloaded all his weapons, I couldn’t help but wonder: What would happen if a large group of black men, fighting for black supremacy, and carrying shotguns, were marching the streets? How long would it take before they were arrested? We won’t know, because we don’t have an identical group to the “Unite the Right” group that is now formed to bring together all those hate groups.
Whoa… before you try to talk about AntiFa (a group using violence to fight the white supremacists and race issues across the country)… let’s be clear on the difference. I’ll use an analogy.
Imagine, if you will, a huge thumb pressing you to the ground. It doesn’t want you to have rights. It thinks you are dirty and worthless. You could stay still and pressed to the ground. You could try to talk your way out of it with kindness. However, decades pass and that thumb is causing you pain.
Do you fight?
Yes. Don’t say you would just take it. You wouldn’t. You would either fight, or die that way. AntiFa is sick of the violence and hatred from the thumb of white supremacy. Members want it to end. Do I think they should use violence? No. Do I understand why they do? Absolutely.
Senator John McCain put it better than I could right now.
“There’s no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate& bigotry. The President of the United States should say so”
“No moral equivalency”
Back to being white trash, and having privilege.
I have a dear friend who has a kind heart and wants equality across the board. I read a post he put on Facebook right after the death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, when a white supremacist ran her and other counter-protesters down with a car. My friend said some disparaging things about “white trash”.
Of course, my 12-year-old self came out. Why 12? That’s when I became sassy.
I told him to watch it. I told him I was considered white trash at one time, and look how I turned out: a bleeding heart liberal. I want equality for all. I think the poor should have assistance. I am 100% against any white supremacy group, anywhere. I believe words matter, and being kind is the only way to act.
And, we aren’t going to be kind if we can’t realize that not everyone wears the same labels based on race, financial standing, or where they grew up.
We also aren’t going to be kind, if we ignore the truth. There IS white trash that is promoting their race over all others, believing all other races should die, or go somewhere else. This hatred is real, it is violent, and some of it is institutionalized.
And, then there is white trash that wants to denounce its own people. I believe there are more of us than “them”. It is our moral obligation to speak up when we can, to stand up for those being oppressed by a big thumb.
That moral obligation trumps any heritage or skin color you may have.
Poor White Trash