White Trash, Nancy Isenberg
Nancy Isenberg

White Trash

802 printed pages
In this landmark book, Nancy Isenberg argues that the voters who boosted Trump all the way to the White House have been a permanent part of the American fabric, and reveals how the wretched and landless poor have existed from the time of the earliest British colonial settlements to today's hillbillies.
Poor whites were central to the rise of the Republican Party in the early nineteenth century and the Civil War itself was fought over class issues nearly as much as it was fought over slavery. Reconstruction pitted white trash against newly freed slaves, which factored in the rise of eugenics – a widely popular movement embraced by Theodore Roosevelt that targeted poor whites for sterilization. These poor were at the heart of New Deal reforms and Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society; they are now offered up as entertainment in reality TV shows, and the label is applied to celebrities ranging from Dolly Parton to Bill Clinton. Marginalized as a class, white trash have always been at or near the centre of major political debates over the character of the American identity.
Surveying political rhetoric and policy, popular literature and scientific theories over four hundred years, Isenberg upends assumptions about America's supposedly class-free society – where liberty and hard work were meant to ensure real social mobility – and forces a nation to face the truth about the enduring, malevolent nature of class.
Original publication
2017
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bblbrx
bblbrxhas quoted2 years ago
In Americans’ evolving attitudes toward these unwanted people, perhaps the most dramatic language attached to the mid-nineteenth century, when poor rural whites were categorized as somehow less than white, their yellowish skin and diseased and decrepit children marking them as a strange breed apart. The words “waste” and “trash” are crucial to any understanding of this powerful and enduring vocabulary. Throughout its history, the United States has always had a class system. It is not only directed by the top 1 percent and supported by a contented middle class. We can no longer ignore the stagnant, expendable bottom layers of society in explaining the national identity.
Дарья Ксёнз
Дарья Ксёнзhas quoted2 years ago
a dark and tangled American secret at the core of our history: the pervasive persistence of white poverty.
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