It’s been over a week since beginning my reading of White Trash. And I’m still on chapter 1, “taking out the trash”.
I’ve started skimming paragraphs. Then I feel guilty, and actually go back and READ them. Then promptly wish I would not have…
The odor is getting pungent.
I’m not sure what to do…
How do I explain this?
Perhaps this snippet of a discussion will help:
“Have you heard of ‘The White Trash Studies’?”
“No… but I did see something a while back, a social research experiment. I wonder if it was part of the same study?”
“Really? What did they do in the experiment?”
“Well, they took the participants, all white males from different socio-economic backgrounds. They put them through this pre-set ‘maze’ and they had to find their way through. But, the researchers scattered people and situations throughout the maze to slow down or stop the participants…”
“Wow, really cool! What happened?”
“Well, the upper class men, when they were stopped, they just went along with it, and continued through the maze.” She leaned in conspiratorially. “But, the lower class men… they got angry, and belligerent, and eventually ended up cussing the people out.”
We both laughed.
“Wow… isn’t it interesting? I mean… it really shows how class status affects a person’s patience and understanding about the world.”
She stumbled to a stop, her eyes went blank. She really, really, wanted to say, “what?” Her lips closed and pursed to form the first sound, but then, she thought better of it.
It was at that moment, I realized the “trump-supporter” bashing tirade forming… (the topic began with the election results). I had gotten so caught up in the experiment explanation, I’d forgotten why we were talking about ‘white trash’ in the first place.
Therefore, I realized, we had been having two completely separate conversations… and…Her funny moment was how she saw the lower class men as having an over-perceived sense of entitlement. While my funny moment was, well… evidently not part of the research project’s methodology.
We were laughing about different aspects, of the same thing.
And… up until then? I was the one missing the point.
Funny how the world seems drastically different, from different perspectives. But, we all laugh?
Of course, I think my point-of-view about the experiment is Right. And, she is, well, a bit of an upper-class snob. (Bless her heart.)
Because, growing up lower class… clawing my way to lower middle class, touching middle class with the tip of a finger… I KNOW, intimately, that at the bottom, covered in the waste, debris, and smoke of society…
The stench gets in your hair, your skin.
The stench settles in your lungs.
It weighs you down.
It holds you hostage.
How did I escape?
I ignored what everyone else told me.
I read the voices of the ages.
I was mentored by philosophy,
Funny thing? I still don’t feel like I escaped.
Because… how can you escape, your birthplace? Your home?
I’m not sure I even want to escape.
Where and how I grew up – shaped who I am today. It made me tough. It made me resolute. It gave me perspective. Understanding. And compassion.
I hope by tomorrow… (Tuesday) I will be able to speak more on the subject… but for now…
I had to express my point-of-view.
I had to explain why, I just can’t seem to accept the writer’s premises…
Yes, different times had different values.
Yes, different times had different goals.
But, historians cannot weight the past with present values… any more than we can expect the values of today to be accepted by future society.
If we cannot learn to step out of our selves long enough to see a situation objectively?
We will be doomed to the fate of all those complained about in this book.