Chapter 6: Waspish Classism

Sneak Peeks – Classless

…Throughout American history rednecks have experienced rejection and insults, particularly from their upper class southern neighbours, wealthy northerners, and also from ‘blacks’. Over time, these once proud men became objects of ridicule. They became known as ‘poor white trash’ which carried not only connotations of being financially worse off, but also genetically worse off. The image of the redneck as the poor ‘white’ is reinforced in movies and television programmes as well as in the news media. These days the image has expanded to include bigotry, thuggery, ignorance and backwardness although people like Crit Callebs are trying to reclaim the term as a positive self-identifier.

Rednecks were the first to settle in the Appalachian Wilderness in the United States and large parts of the south, although they were also found in California and Alaska. But, apart from being characterised by their distinct Scottish Irish heritage and language, according to Crit Callebs, they were a resourceful, honorable people who were proud of the title ‘redneck’.

Rednecks were known for their martial spirit. Tennessee had a reputation for being the ‘volunteer state’ because of the large numbers who volunteered for duty in the American Revolutionary War, the War of eighteen twelve, the Texas Revolution (including the defense of the Alamo) and, in particular, the Mexican War. According to accounts of their history during the Civil War, rednecks, in essence poor ‘whites’, did most of the fighting and died on both sides of the conflict. They were also said to be unsure about slavery, perhaps because of their shared suffering. Even though the experience of ‘black’ slaves was worse by far, many poor ‘whites’ also had a hard life…



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