White trash

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The term white trash is offensive on many levels. First, it implies that there is a white standard, or a “normal” whiteness. In other words, if you are white, you should be educated, wealthy, and conform to certain social standards. Because of this, it implies an understanding and acceptance to barriers to advancement for black people. There is an expectation of achievement attached to this phrase, and therefore attached to whiteness.

The words we tend to associate with white trash are: poor, lazy, uneducated, violent, dirty, and immoral. In this case, white suggests purity and cleanliness, while white trash is about impurity, dirtiness and the profane. This distinction is created for white people who don’t “act white” (explained in Acting White), making it inherently racist and discriminatory because it implies that these expectations of laziness, violence, etc. already exist for People of color.


This term is completely unacceptable in all circumstances and should not be used. People are people, not trash, and should therefore not be described in such a derogatory way.

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