Feb 29, 2008

Coming out of the woodwork

And I thought I was the only one...

Found through The Alien Trucker

I felt like that little girl in a bee costume

Cept with better Tejas muzak...

More about the - ahem -ever less reclusive Redneck Liberals out there...

I found
a book (Liberal Rednecks Read!Yeehaw!)

In it, they describe the Conservative Redneck-

ill-dressed, surly... unintelligent and slinking... the sort of people that lynch Negroes, that mistake hoodlumism for wit, and cunning for intelligence, that attend revivals and fight and fornicate in the bushes afterwards. They were undiluted Anglo-Saxons. They were the sovereign voter.

Sounds 'bout right... at first flush. But with a second look, I do take exception at several things-

Making fun of the way rednecks dress is pretty elitist. They were poor and hard working. What little clothing they had was stained with the evidence of their labors. Putting food on the table came in way above "How do I look?" in prioritization. And they were not lackin' in intelligence so much as they were in education. The things that the affluent take for granted often reveal their innate bias. "Just look at them. You can tell they have no breeding." No, what they didn't have, that the "well-bred" did- was bread.

The description in italics above reminds me of how average whites often look down on black folks. The "slinking" bit in itself is particularly damning. Shit, when you are poor, grew up poor, and have been raised busting your ass and having the notion kicked into you every single day that those who had money were better than you- "slinking" sort of came natural. You weren't allowed to look a man with money in the eye. That was arrogance and jealousy, don't you know.

If that description is apt- concerning poor black people and poor white people alike- well, it seems to me that you can take the color description right out of it. Why, to the well-to-do, we are all ni**ers, that is of a certainty.

Another question comes up, in light of this - Why does the racism even get worse, louder, and more obvious, as you go down the financial food chain of white men?

Several reasons. The desire to be one of "You" the affluent- made us disregard what we had in common with the black working class and strive to adopt your own prejudices against them as mimicry. Another- was the fact that our community, within the poorest of the poor, was in direct competition with the black families. If you hired one of us, we tried to get you to hire others in our family, our extended family. Every job, every dollar that a black man got instead of one of us was one we didnt get. And vice versa.

And finally, a big driving factor was shame. We were told that blacks were less than whites. We were told by our "masters" that whites were better. We were told that is why whites ran everything. And deep inside, faced with this line of thought, we asked ourselves- how did we, white that we were, end up poor like just another black man? How worse were we, white people who were no better than our black neighbors? We were told we were innately supposed to be in a higher echelon. Yet here we were- all at the bottom. No matter what our color.

And that just couldn't be right. The rich said so. So We poor whites couldnt be at the same level as the poor blacks. It was impossible! So, armed with the knowledge of our 'betters'- we decided that the blacks must be cheating us, must be stealing from us, must be tricking us, to 'drag us down' to the same level.

And how could we prove that we were above them? The only way we could. We put them in their place. "Shit rolls downhill". We took out our misplaced anger on the black people. We pushed, we insulted, we degraded, we killed. We made sure they understood the "difference" between a poor white man and a poor black man. Which was- that our rich masters exonerated us of our crimes. They used us and rewarded us for our dirty deeds. After all, poor or not, we were still white. But, at the end of the day, our color didn't really matter to the rich, after all. We still were poor dirty white trash- must be because we were lazy and stupid. White or not, we were still subhumans to those "god had rewarded" with the benefit of good birth and good family.

This ain't no excuse for our actions. In fact, it's the opposite. It's a conviction of our ignorance. We WERE ignorant fools and in our ignorance we allowed ourselves to be divided and conquered once again.

But some of us woke up.

Some of us finally figured out we had more in common with the black man than we did the rich man.

And a redneck liberal was born.

"And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your ass"

Okay, that's all I got for now... Thoughts? This is more emotion writing for me than it is conscious thought. But its how I see things. I could be wrong.

Back to the music- On a ZZ Top kick right now...

Love the older bluesy stuff..

My Favorite late-night-hand-me-the-last-beer-and-by-the-way-shut-the-hell-up-so-I-can-hear-the-music song...
(Number 136 on the Jukebox at the Sand trap...)

And with that, I think I'll call it a night.


Bob said...

Good post. Right on the money. Years ago one of my students did an interview for the local paper and in it dubbed me the "high tech redneck." I liked it. Still do. Tho I would stick "liberal" in front of it now since even a moderate is liberal where I live. Btw, I ran across the origin of the term "redneck" (come out of the coal mining wars in WVA and has to do with the distinctive bandana worn by the strikers) (There's a study that perfectly illustrates your point)

Fade said...

I saw a special on the coal mining strikers and saw that "origin" of the term as well. I've heard 3 distinct origin stories about it. Not sure which one to believe. Since I actually have a red neck (back of my neck is permanently red from years of working outside under the sun) I tend to lean toward that one- that its a derogatory term for poor white laborers...

C.J. said...

WOW Fade!! You are on a roll with these fabulous posts!

I remember when Kanye West said that George Bush doesn't care about black people. The grump (hubby) said he didn't believe that. That for all GW's faults he wasn't a racist. I said you are correct - GW doesn't care about poor people no matter the color of your skin. He doesn't much care for the middle class either, but someone has to pay taxes so he pretends to tolerate us.

That whole class of rich conservatives is exactly the same way. The way they use/manipulate the "working man" is despicable. Either by scapegoating minorities (the mexicans are invading!!) or using Jesus & homophobia, it's all a ploy to get enough votes to make their rich friends richer. The liberal redneck may look just the same but isn't so easily fooled.

If you haven't - you should read "What's the matter with kansas?" by Thomas Frank. Midwest rednecks are the same as rednecks everywhere.

Comrade Kevin said...

My roots are decidedly humble and I am one to be talking when I decry the rednecks, because they are, for better or for worse, blood relatives.