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- Jul 2021
‘Don’t get fooled by those mangled teeth she sports on camera!’ says the ABC News host introducing the woman who plays Pennsatucky. ‘Taryn Manning is one beautiful and talented actress.’ This suggestion that bad teeth and talent, in particular, are mutually exclusive betrays our broad, unexamined bigotry toward those long known, tellingly, as ‘white trash.’ It’s become less acceptable in recent decades to make racist or sexist statements, but blatant classism generally goes unchecked. See the hugely successful blog People of Walmart that, through submitted photographs, viciously ridicules people who look like contemporary US poverty: the elastic waistbands and jutting stomachs of diabetic obesity, the wheelchairs and oxygen tanks of gout and emphysema. Upper-class supremacy is nothing new. A hundred years ago, the US Eugenics Records Office not only targeted racial minorities but ‘sought to demonstrate scientifically that large numbers of rural poor whites were genetic defectives,’ as the sociologist Matt Wray explains in his book Not Quite White: White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness (2006). The historian and civil rights activist W E B du Bois, an African American, wrote in his autobiography Dusk of Dawn (1940) that, growing up in Massachusetts in the 1870s, ‘the racial angle was more clearly defined against the Irish than against me. It was a matter of income and ancestry more than colour.’ Martin Luther King, Jr made similar observations and was organising a poor-people’s march on Washington at the time of his murder in 1968.
examples of upper-class supremacy
This seems an interesting sociological issue. What is the root cause? Is it the economic sense of "keeping up with the Jonses"? Is it a zero-sum game? really?