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White trash

As an epithet, white trash, or the more extended poor white trash first came into common use in the 1830s. The Oxford English Dictionary identifies it in its earliest usage as an American pejorative used by the slaves of gentlemen against poor whites who worked in the field. Some might argue that the term belongs to a category of insults focusing on behavioral characteristics (such as mannerisms, lifestyle) rather than overt racial characteristics (as with nigger, yid). The term is probably most used in the southeast of the United States of America.

The nature of the term "white trash", the people to whom it has been applied, and the motivation of people applying the term is studied in connection to racism and politics. In full historical context the term is difficult to define and any definition must be considered with respect to the context in which the epithet was applied. For example, the racial meaning of "white" has changed. 150 years ago immigrants from mediterranean Europe would not have been considered "white". At present, the U.S. census would consider these same people, such as Italians and Italian Americans to be "white".

Some people argue that, "white trash," is racist not because it includes the word, "white," but because it implies that trashiness is the normal state for black people and thus when a white person is trashy it must be specified that the person is white.

Related, but not necessarily equivalent, terms include Trailer park trash, Redneck, Hick and Hillbilly

Of these terms, White Trash is probably the most extreme. For example the term Redneck has been "reclaimed" as a self referential name by whites who are proud of their rural roots. However, no one would proudly call themselves white trash.

Compare: Nigger