resolved fixed and replaced with another situation.
When you have as many adult children as I do, who are still young enough to do something stupid, you never really get to the point where everyone is chugging along happily, you just replace one crisis with another one. But that’s ok. no one died, no one is sick (other than Will’s nasty cold, for which I fixed him 6 pints of garlicky chicken soup and ordered him to eat 1 pint a day until he felt better), no one is homeless or starving. In the grand scheme of things, we’re all doing pretty good.
So I’ve been thinking. Yes, I do think once in a while. In the wee hours of this morning, while I was asleep, a friend wrote a very interesting blog post about classism and while yes, she curses like a Friday Night Stevedore, she makes a few excellent points. That is, poor whites (especially Southerners) are an acceptable target for ridicule and contempt. I’m white, Southern, and have been poor. I’ve lived in a 30 year old housetrailer at the edge of a peanut patch, and endured the polite yet pointed remarks from other women, when upon finding out where and how I lived, would say things like “oh. Well. Come see me sometime.” That’s Southern White Woman’s version of “oh I don’t think I want to see you, and I certainly don’t want to spend time in a (delicate shudder) 30year old housetrailer” I wanted to shout at them “IT’S NOT CONTAGIOUS!”
Oh, and Renegade Evolution, who wrote that post? She *is* a friend. Not just a “she writes an interesting blog I follow from time to time”. She’s a friend because she’s honest and not afraid to tell it like it is, and I respect that. And yes,we’ve met in (as she calls it) “meatspace” or (as I call it) Real Life.
The thing is, this whole idea of classism, it’s so easy to fall into, isn’t it. “I’m not one of THOSE”(…people who shop at Walmart or Goodwill.) or “well, I’m educated so I know better”(…than what?). Now, she’s talking about classism within feminism in her post. Uh Boy is it ever there. Makes me queasy, in fact. I’m talking about good old Southern White Woman Classism. I don’t know feminism much, other than what I read (and laugh at) in bloglandia. But I certainly do know SWWC. The Housetrailer Years, the Tiny Old Farmhouse years taught me much about “Who’s Your People” classism, the kind that you see in very small Southern towns, inbred and old.
When I was 9 we moved from Illinois to a small Georgia town, and I had the apparent misfortune of sharing a last name with a (shudder…you’re one of THEM) not very well respected family, the kind that had a Family Compound (you know,a cluster of housetrailers around an old farm house, fenced in with big dogs and trigger happy adults), and I learned really quickly how important your name was, and it went downhill from there. The other people whohad the same last name? They were nice, not very wealthy, old clothes and the boy who was in my class sometimes didn’t smell so good. The girl, a cousin of the boy, got the hell out of Dodge as soon as she graduated. I moved my senior year, to a town who didn’t have anyone with that last name, and escaped the stigma. However, the residue of being treated like “Poor White Trash” because of a nonexistent affiliation stuck with me.
When we married, we didn’t have
much any money. A good day was when there was $3 in the checking account the day before payday. A bad one was when we had to use a credit card to buy milk. Thank God for WIC, which provided infant formula and baby food. That experience taught me to understand how and why people need public assistance like WIC and food stamps. Sometimes you just don’t have the money. It’s not a character flaw.
Then we moved into the housetrailer at the edge of a peanut patch. It was down a dirt road (called Mud Road, isn’t that clever). I kept it clean and tidy. It was spacially adequate, and pleasantly situated with a couple of giant oak trees. But it was a housetrailer, and I never had a visitor. As soon as I’d say “turn off the paved road” they’d start looking panicked, and when I’d say “it’s the old white housetrailer” the panic turned into a look like they’d gotten a whiff of a dead animal, and they’d smoothly say “oh,well…next time you’re in town come by for a visit”. This taught me that living is a housetrailer isn’t a character flaw, sometimes it’s all you can afford. Not having nice furniture, not owning a new car or a house in a fine neighborhood or being able to eat out all the time or wearing new clothes from Dillards, these are not character flaws.
Yes, sometimes people spend their money differently from the way I do. Sometimes they’d rather have a $400 tattoo than spend it at Dillard’s on clothes. As ong as it’s not a swastika, I’m ok with that. There’s a spot I’d like to spend $400 for a tattoo, but have yet to locate $400 that isn’t claimed already. Sometimes I’ll see an old housetrailer with a $60,000 custom bass boat parked behind it. I reckon the people in the house love to fish, maybe someone won the boat in a tournament. Who am I to look down on them for that? I once lived in a 30 year old housetrailer and had a 2 year old minivan with payments that were bigger than the rent we paid on the trailer. I reckon my priorities were not so good?
The thing is, classism is there and it’s such an integral part of our culture that no one even sees it. Racism is evil. People who are blatant racists are vilified and rightfully so. Classism is funny, let’s mock the dumb uneducated redneck hicks who don’t know any better than to put blowers on their 1980 Monte Carlos and roar up and down the road. Never mind that uneducated redneck hick with the Monte Carlo had a heart big enough to give my rebellious child a home, when he was running away. Let’s make fun of the old guy with the house and yard full of broken down appliances,never mind he is a safe haven for teenaged boys, gives them a meal and a ride home, and is mentoring rebellious boys in the Gospel so when they get tired or the rebellion they have something meaningful to consider.
Thank God for people like these. who don’t really care what wealthier people, the ones with The Good Family Name and the house in The Right Neighborhood think about them.
And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.