Trying to justify the usage of a racist/classist term when the term is used to as an insult with the specific purpose of insulting is backwards. It's not what a movement should be about. When black people reclaimed and try to reclaim 'nigga' that was not to say they were calling each other 'nigger' and when people make that argument we can tell exactly where they are going with that. They want to use that to justify their usage of the word. 'Well they call themselves that. Why can't I?' So when socio -economically privileged people call other people who are not privileged white trash the message is loud and clear that it is an insult or that a mannerism is white trash it is an insult. Because the idea of white trash specifically speaks to classist actions against people who are not the 'kind of white' we can respect or that other white people can respect. They are not the 'good upstanding white people' we always hear about. They are 'one step up' from a 'minority' and that's what it's really about in the pecking order. They are looked at with disgust and not admiration. And when we stick to notions like that we not only perpetuate racism and classism we make contribute to the cycle that makes it okay for us to degrade people based solely on economic disparities. Which feeds into the 'stupid are poor and lazy' and the 'maybe they should just try harder if they want to succeed' memes. And if we're going to start dismantling shit, we can't if we use the same tools that the oppressors have used to oppress others. I can't remember who said it but the phrase goes, "The oppressed make the best oppressors.'" It's completely fucking true We are excellent at using those tools and I bet it feels really great to exercise that power over someone.
But one of the reasons I was really bothered by it was it specifically tapped into something personal for me. My good friend is a straight white male and he understands that privilege and during his childhood was considered white trash. His mother lost her leg in a motorcycle hit and run accident. They lived on government assistance. His mother's social security check for both children was $1.07 each while the cost to print the actual check was $7. His father left to live in Miami and was an alcoholic leaving his sister and him to be raised by their grandparents. He grew up in a town named Homestead which was very poor. Everyday they ate butter and bread sandwiches or spaghettios. He was living below poverty level. Then he went to live with his mother again while living in an affluent suburb of Florida (Sarasota). While he was there he had friends that were the sons of doctors, lawyers, bankers. He began to understand that he was less fortunate. Is his childhood a reason to dismiss his valid opinions? Does his childhood speak of a mentality he may have? Or may be carrying with him? When he says he is proud to be white trash or that he is from white trash he is not accepting that as a slur. He is accepting that as what society labeled him and in fact saying that he is not ashamed of his heritage of the place he came from of the people he associated with or the life he live. If we begin to rob people of their dignity based solely on things they could not control or even things that our enemies will use against us, how are we any better than them? When my friend says he is white trash it is not an insult to himself. He does not view 'white trash' with disgust. The things he learned as 'white trash' have taught him a level of humanity that most people who can flippantly use the term to insult or take those really nice vacations and never receive food stamps from the government may never understand.
So fuck it, I won't pussyfoot around it's true we should toughen the fuck up, but you know what else? Part of being tough says that I can get in your face and tell you when you fucked up and then rub your nose in it like a bad pet owner. You were wrong. You did a bad bad thing!
Ps. How can I get tough if my mom says I'm charming?
PPs. If you touch it you're going to get burned. You will get smoked like various tasty meats in the smokehouse! Sizzle. I'm serious. You will be the crispy creme donut to my deep fryer.