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Ask a Redeck, Season 1 Episode 2

This Episode of Ask a Redneck is brought to you by Houser Meats located just outside scenic Rushville, IL.

On today's episode of Ask a Redneck, "Somewhat Southern" from Smithfield, NC asks:

Dear Redneck,

Please explain the difference between a "redneck", "white trash", and "just country". It's gettin' difficult to tell them apart down yonder.

Well Somewhat, this is a tricky question. There is no real easy answer because those words are like comparing Pork BBQ and collard greens. They just ain't the same kinds of critters.

The term "redneck" was originally used to describe working class people from the country. Their necks got sunburned so they were called rednecks. On the surface that doesn't seem like such a bad thing. But some uppity folks started using it as an insult to describe poor, ignorant, uneducated dirt farmers and eventually it grew to be an insult. To make matters worse, people like Jeff Foxworthy, make up redneck jokes which only compound the confusion over what a redneck is.

Basically, redneck is a state of mind. It describes someone who would rather live a country life and associate with country people, than live a city life and associate with city people. Therefore, rednecks are found in all walks of life and in every social class.

People who paint everyone from the country as ignorant dirt farmers should spend some time with a farmer sometime. Farmers are among the most intelligent people I know. Ask a farmer questions about animal husbandry or plant biology and see if you are not surprised by their answers. It takes a very intelligent person to run some of the hi-tech computerized farm equipment that farmers use these days. So go visit a redneck farmer sometime. Heck, you might just learn something.

Now the term white trash describes a social sub-class with a certain state of mind. Generally these folks are lower or middle class with no desire at all to better themselves or their families. Rednecks might be happy as pigs in slop but white trash is happy as pigs in slop to be pigs in slop. You take your average lower or middle income person with a family and you give them $1,000. Most likely they are going to figure out how to spend it to better the lives of themselves or their family. You give that same $1,000 to a white trash person and the next thing you know, the '74 El Camino parked on the front lawn that has not run in 10 years will have a brand new set of chrome hubcaps on it.

Ever see the movie, "Million Dollar Baby?" The female boxer's family, now they were white trash. And not country white trash either. They lived in a town. And they had every opportunity to change their station in life that anyone else does. White trash people have this twisted sense of entitlement. They all think they are owed something. If they are not trying to figure out a way of getting something for nothing from the government, they are mooching off some family member who has managed to go and make him/herself a better person. I have a whole family of white trash cousins who are still pissed off over ten years later that they didn't get my Grandmother's farm and my father did. Yet they never lifted a finger to help my grandmother and only when they discovered that she had actually managed to save enough to make a nice life for herself, did they become interested in her at all. White trash people tend to resent other people if they are able to be successful.

White trash people also tend not to care about their kids. They seem to think their only responsibility to their children lies in bringing them into the world. After that, the kids are pretty much on their own. Which is why many of them end up raising families that perpetuate all the really negative aspects of white trash life. A white trash mother will find the earliest opportunity to dump the responsibility of raising her kids off on someone else. I'm not talking about working mothers who have to use day care here. I'm talking about people who just can't be bothered to give their kids any sort of direction or hope for their lives. If they can find a relative or neighbor who is willing to do the raising or watching of their children so they can go off and get drunk or high or laid (and produce more kids) then they are in seventh heaven.

White trash people are generally slovenly, not caring how their surroundings look or even if they are clean and sanitary. I know people whose houses I'm scared to go into for fear I might pick up an infestation of fleas or a new disease. This gives you a clue as to where the trash part of White Trash comes in. Their houses are generally a disaster inside and out and since they don't care to try and better themselves, nothing ever gets done about it.

They also tend to have a number of uncared for animals hanging around. Sometimes it's not clear if the animals are owned by anyone or not or just hanging out for a free meal. The animals are cared for about as well as the kids so sometimes, they just wander off and find a better meal ticket.

The term "white trash" began as a description of poor white farmers living in the rural South during the time of slavery. They were indentured servants or subsistence farmers who were essentially enslaved by a class system that did not let them rise above their current social status. They were uneducated so they were denied the right to vote.

White trash of today, choose by their own sloth to keep themselves locked in a certain social class. They have the same opportunities at education as any other poor or middle class person. They have the same opportunity to go out and get decent paying jobs. They have the same opportunity to save money and try to make a better life for themselves. They just choose not to. And white trash are not confined to American caucasians either. All nationalities and geographic regions have a version of this social sub class. But like ticks and fleas are part of the food chain, white trash has it's place in society as well. Someone has to buy all that useless plastic crap at flea markets.

The term "just country" is most closely aligned with "redneck" though it pertains solely to people who do live in the country. I think people use that term because they are afraid of the stereotypes others attach to the word redneck. People who say they are just country want you to know they live a simple country life with no frills. Just good salt of the earth type of people.

I hope this answers your question Miss Somewhat. For participating today, you win a gift certificate for a free plate of chicken livers at Bruiser's Gizzards and Livers on the East Side Square in beautiful downtown Rushville, IL.

Yee haw!

Wander the Roving Redneck.


( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 15th, 2007 07:24 am (UTC)
My priest came from a farming family. One day someone called his father a 'dumb farmer'. His dad replied, "And just how many of us dumb farmers do you think it takes to feed you and your family?"

I love your redneck photo on these posts. Please keep it there. Great work!
Feb. 15th, 2007 09:11 am (UTC)
I often ride the combine or planter with my farmers (cousins) who tell me about all the varieties of corn or soybeans they could plant and why they might or might not plant them and it's a mystery to me how they keep all that straight. It's not a job any idiot could do.

Feb. 16th, 2007 02:02 am (UTC)
I've rode on a combine too and seen how the coyotes dig holes to get the field mice and how the field mice destroy soybeans. I didn't know this until being on the combine. I've seen where lightning has struck in a field...it's all interesting.

But as you say, farming isn't something just anyone can do. It's not like large scale gardening in the back yard. It's a science. I don't know anything about this corn or that and what's best for what.

I know dairy farming is another area that requires a lot of knowledge as is raising cattle for beef. Feed them this, then feed them that so the meat will be tender.

No, I'm not a farmer. I've never thought farmers are dumb. It really worries me about the number of huge farms that are being sold off to land developers who turn the land into subdivisions. Someday I think we may face a food shortage. I call these sell outs and subdivisions "rural ruin".
Feb. 16th, 2007 03:09 am (UTC)
And when the soybeans are harvested all the field mice come into my house. I hate mice. Up our way people don't sell their farms to developers. Anyone that has money is buying up farm land to plant corn and soybeans for the fuel trade.

I don't like seeing good farm land go for development either. People gotta live somewhere but people gotta eat too.

Feb. 18th, 2007 07:18 pm (UTC)
Apparently you can kill mice in a ten-pound sack of cat food. I learned that today.
Feb. 15th, 2007 08:29 am (UTC)
Hmmmmmm.....okie dokie. Yup, gonna have to post on this. Yup, gonna be good too.


Feb. 15th, 2007 09:13 am (UTC)
Dude! I figured I might as well hit this one in the early going. Can't wait to see your post.

Feb. 15th, 2007 11:24 am (UTC)
Wow - you have described my family (not me) to a T! White trash is where they're at. I don't let them mooch off me though. They did that to my grandmother, and now my Mom is one of them.

I love your definition of a redneck. I've always felt that although I was born in the North I feel more at home with a Southern attitude!
Feb. 15th, 2007 01:28 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I was born in Illinois which isn't exactly southern but it was a farm town I was born in and a farming family I came from. I do know some Northern rednecks and some city folks who have become rednecks. But if people are raised in cities, it seems to be harder for them to ultimately embrace country values. And that's fine too. It takes all kinds of people to make the world go around.

Feb. 16th, 2007 02:05 am (UTC)
Hi! It's been ages since I've seen a post from you. I hope you're okay and staying warm in this Winter weather.

I hope you will post soon.

Take care,
Feb. 16th, 2007 12:10 pm (UTC)
Hi there! Been busy with tax season and life in general. Things are going well - my son is home from Iraq for a few weeks and we are making the most of his leave time. I'm hoping to post again soon. I read your entries and think about you - just haven't had the time to post! Take care and hopefully I'll post again soon.
Feb. 16th, 2007 04:36 pm (UTC)
I'm happy that your son is home on leave from Iraq. I know it's good to have him there for awhile.

I've started writing reflections again. I'll continue through Lent and I'm doing some other type reflections too. Hope to see a comment from you one of these days.

Take care!
Feb. 15th, 2007 02:28 pm (UTC)
So what do you really think about white trash (aka the people I went to school with aka the cast of "Gummo")? ;)
Feb. 15th, 2007 03:50 pm (UTC)
The knowledge that only comes from personal experience.

Feb. 15th, 2007 02:41 pm (UTC)
Haha! Awesome!
Feb. 15th, 2007 04:01 pm (UTC)
When my brother and I travel down to the beach at Christmas to see my folks, we either go down US 70 or all the way out to Warsaw on I-40 and then down NC 24 to the beach. We almost always play a game we made up called "Name that White Trash icon"

You have to choose something from White Trash culture and guess how many there will be on your side of the road before you reach your destination. I always choose strip clubs housed in trailers. Joe usually chooses roadside hair salons in trailers.

Feb. 15th, 2007 03:02 pm (UTC)
i love that picture! my one and only time answering an internet personal ad had me showing up at a single wide trailer with a brand new mustang parked out front. ah huh.
Feb. 15th, 2007 04:07 pm (UTC)
One of my unfortunate past jobs was telemarketing cheap 35 mm cameras and film. Sometimes I got the delivery end of the job where you then try to sell them on a trip to Florida or Hawaii. More than half of the delivery calls were to trailer parks. and ineveitably they all had shiny new Camaros or Mustangs but you got inside and the place was an absolute pig sty. Oh and there was usually a huge Satellite Dish somewhere near and 15 trailers spliced into it.

Feb. 15th, 2007 03:59 pm (UTC)
Yee-HAW! Chicken livers!!! I hope they're better than ones at The Chicken Barn in Smithfield. Of course, thank you for answering the question. By the way, lovely pic. Unfortunately it reminds of Kid Rock.

I realize now that I meant "trailer trash", which would have been more appropriate than "white trash". Ooooooh well. :P

Much love and sweet tea to you,
Somewhat Southern


Feb. 15th, 2007 04:03 pm (UTC)
Trailer trash is a sub culture of White Trash making them a sub sub culture I guess. Same trappings of White Trash culture just they prefer to live in trailers and attract tornadoes.

Feb. 15th, 2007 04:04 pm (UTC)
I'm older, Kid Rock looks like me. I've owned the look for longer than him.

Feb. 15th, 2007 06:42 pm (UTC)
Heh...it's funny, I see your descriptions of the "White Trash" and recognize the people that have been coming out of the woodwork since mom died. Good description and you've never met any of them! Guess you don't need to!

And they are all still mad at me too. Ask me if I care. LOL.
Feb. 16th, 2007 03:10 am (UTC)
Just proves my point about white trash being everywhere.

Feb. 15th, 2007 07:41 pm (UTC)
Dude, you are friggin hilarious.

And I LOVE the graphic.

As soon as we give up our high faluting city ways, we're gonna be rednecks too!
Feb. 16th, 2007 03:11 am (UTC)
You can always be weekend rednecks. No reason to give up the city life if you still find it useful. I'm going to do one of these comparing city life to country life pretty soon. There are some things I like about cities.

Feb. 16th, 2007 05:43 pm (UTC)
Us too, but we've been doing this city cha-cha for far too long now. It's time to buy some land, get some chickens and go to the lake.

Good times.

Well, I work in the heart of Downtown L.A.....so if you need any city stories, I got plenty :)

Feb. 16th, 2007 03:14 am (UTC)
The pic is a self portrait I did last year at the farm. I think it's one of my favorite self portraits.

Feb. 15th, 2007 09:21 pm (UTC)
i'm lovin' this current trend in your journal! it's informative AND hilarious!

mike is a redneck at heart and proud of it -- he's never really been able to articulate it well, i think in part, because he was raised in rural pa until the age of 5 and then they moved to the md suburbs... so it's something that's within him, but he can't really explain it. i think this will resonate with him and i'm looking forward to sharing it...


Feb. 16th, 2007 03:13 am (UTC)
Glad I could help. Lots of people feel that way but don't express it because of the negative associations of the word. I say, embrace your inner redneck!

( 29 comments — Leave a comment )