Sunday, March 6, 2016

Core Reading Post // The 'Right' Type of White: White Trash in America

What interested me the most in Sweeney’s article was the concept of White Trash as interpreted by one’s actions, behavior, and composure, and why this is insanely frowned upon in white culture. While white complexion is highly considered the ‘desirable’ trait by western culture, much of what we associate with whiteness is also class, education, composure and sophistication. Sweeney most specifically mentions that “The White Trash body is, by definition, an excessive body...While the middle-class audience has critical distance--it applauds, distances itself, reacts intellectually to performance--the carnivalesque working-class audience is verbal, it reacts physically and emotionally: it often invades the performance space, wears colors or favors, mimics the performers, and intrudes upon the action...often with the tacit permission of the performers”. There’s a certain unspoken rule of class and composure among upper-class white communities not to act too rowdy or impolite, or else you’ll seep into a lower-class crowd because lower-class is most often associated with the black community. In this essence, class is achieved by control of one’s emotion, most specifically in understanding one’s distance from a performance or piece of art because reacting too carnivalesque, in the perspective of White culture, displays your lack of control. So, in essence, even though you’re white, you’re not the right kind of desirable white to fit the standard mold - all while still being a notch above black people because of your skin tone.

Sweeney additionally mentions why the idea of White Trash is so frowned upon. They mention that White Trash is perceived as ”’acting like blacks’, which in the language of racism is worse than being Black because it constitutes a degradation of ‘racially superior’ Whites...they are seen as degrading to dominant White culture because they reveal the lie of racism: that the so-called inferiority of the Blacks is embedded racially’”. Essentially, acting ‘black’ is even worse than BEING black because it uncloaks the falsity of the social construct of racism as a whole. No longer is the racist ideal supported by pigmentation because when white people ‘act like blacks’, the issue comes down to composure vs. skin color. When whites act like blacks, no longer are Whites ‘superior’, thus in order to propel this facade the white community must continue shunning those who don’t fit the standard, idyllic mold of whiteness.

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