Are you (or do you know anyone who is) half white-trash?

I recently discovered that my mother’s side of the family (middle-class Jews) considers my father’s side of the family (working-class Jews) to be “white trash.” I’m surprised the subject hasn’t come up before (to the best of my knowledge). So if this sort of thing is passed on from one generation to the next, I suppose that would make me half white-trash (perhaps off-white or ivory or ecru).

In Spain there isn’t quite an equivalent concept, but when my parents started dating, his brothers scared their mother telling her that J’s new girlfriend was “de baja extracción” - the literal translation would be “bad quality”.

It was a joke on her dad’s job selling coal.

By the standards of Certain People, I’m half-white trash, as Dad was one of them and Mom was very much not.


Fathers side has been here since 1630s, included one Royal Governor, and spent quality time as a Barons of Industry [hah! =)]

Moms side, been here since 1700s, Pennsylvania Dutch, Amish and Mennonite farmer stocks wandering westwards and settling ultimately in Iowa. She did factory work during WW2 [engineering department working on the X1] as her rumspringa/wanderyear and decided to go to college and get a degree [speech therapy, go figure] and met Dad who was being sent for a degree to the same college [army officer]

I never really recognized it when I was younger, but in retrospect I see that there was a certain disrespect when referring to my mom’s side of the family. There was a certain tension a few summers when we went to visit her side of the family, or some of them were visiting us and there were dad’s side family reunion type functions going on.

I can see how there may have been “disrespect” from the snooty side of the family with its’ glorious past of barons of industry - but I wouldn’t ordinarily think ‘white trash’ about a respectable Amish/Mennonite!!!

I think my ex boyfriend was “half white trash.” If I remember right he said his dad was all a family of engineers and his mom was of the Akron-via-West Virginia factory-working sort. Seemed to me that his dad didn’t quite fancy the trappings of an “upper class” life and his mom wasn’t interested in a life of trailer parks and factory workers, so they made a happy suburban couple.

His dad’s family did not speak to his dad for quite a while because he “married down.” They got over it.

:Slowly raises hand:

I do a lot of genealogy research one all my family and have for years. I had good information on three of my four grandparents practically to the beginning of the U.S. but not much on my maternal grandmother. Everyone was a little confused on her family’s story. I finally just buckled down a few months ago and got every little scrap of information I could from people’s memory and notes on old pictures etc. I found lots on after that.

I did not like what I found. It turns out that I am 1/4 white trash. My maternal grandmother had a mother who owned a beauty parlor, had my grandmother out of wedlock with an inconclusive father, then bounced around the country in the early 20th century doing anyone and anything until she eventually succumbed to injuries from multiple car accidents and the effects of alcoholism. I am picturing a less classy version of Joy from My Name is Earl. Thankfully she, had dumped off my grandmother to be raised by the grandparents well before that.

My cousin married a guy (J) from a white trash family.

You would never be able to tell from looking at him. J is extremely smart, graduated from a top-ranked college and law school, and is just an all-around personable polished nice guy; if you didn’t know you’d swear he was from an upper-class family.

But his family… working-class, trailer park, uneducated, not interested in education, always needing money. (Cousin and husband have to give them money on a regular basis.) I honestly have no idea how J turned out the way he did.

Oh sheesh. At least half my extended family could fall into this category. Drug use, unemployment, in and out of jail, you name it, I got it in my family. Not my immediate family, but pretty darn near.

Well…by marriage, yes. My uncle married a woman from a classic white trash family, and they lived across the street from us. Lazy? check. Uneducated? check (the day one of their kids graduated from high school, there were tears of joy because no one in the family graduated from high school!) Drinkers, partiers, welfare abusers, food stamp abusers. Neglect and mistreatment of animals? check. Obese, knocked-up at an early age, poor dental hygiene? check…The family was trash, pure and simple, every stereotype you can imagine, and they only got by in life as well as they did because one of them married my uncle (a stolid blue-collar working man who imposed some few standards). My cousin from that marriage got pregnant at 16, had a baby girl with an exotic high-falutin’ name, got married to some loser, left him and went to live with a drug dealer, left him and moved into, yes, a trailer with some other guy…so it went. Last I heard her daughter is now an adult and doing well. But my cousin just never got it together and bounced around with low-class men, drinking, working crappy jobs, and for a while was sleeping on her daughter’s couch until her (cousin’s) boyfriend got out of jail and got his son-in-law’s old trailer fixed up for them. :rolleyes:…I would go live alone in a room over a bowling alley bar on the South Side before I, at age 45, would barge into my daughter’s house and demand she put me up on her couch. There’s another woman from that family who married into my family, and her husband refused to put up with any of that shit, making all of them furious! He died, and that woman he married was sucked back in to the dysfunction, living with her original family now. Cops called every week, old cars up on blocks in the driveway, grandbabies spilling out of the cruddy old cars…yikes. Nothings ever changed with them up to this very day. It just goes on and on for every generation, until one of them marries into a “normal” family who just puts their foot down.

I wouldn’t consider anyone in my family trash. But I think my maternal grandmother kind of looked down on my paternal grandmother a bit.

Oh, I’m at least 3/4 recovered white trash.

I was born poor white trailer park trash in small-town Alabama. Lived in several different trailer parks by the time I was in elementary school. (Parents kept getting evicted for non-payment of rent).

At this point in my life I am at a point where I can reach out and touch middle-class. (almost there). I am so glad I was able to learn from my family’s screw-ups and addictions, so that I did not turn out like them.

So if I was born white trash, but worked up out of it, does that mean I am still considered white trash? I hope not… :frowning:

I guess I am. Maybe more than half, even. There are pockets of less-than-classy behavior on both sides, but it’s much more evident on one side. Trailers, scandals about who stole whose spouse and who the kids’ fathers are and who has to have (not gets to have) custody of some of those kids. Money issues (usually self-imposed by overspending and newest-gadget one-upmanship). Reasonably competent middle-aged people who still can’t hold down a job and rely on their parents or their own children for a corner of a room (or trailer). Health issues, some genetic but many also self-imposed (type 2 diabetics and issues related to weight problems), missing teeth, rowdy uncontrolled kids and pets… it goes on.

I didn’t realize a lot of this until I got to college. Why? Sounds cheesy, but there was a lot more love and support and fun on that side of the family. Those who kind of break out (a cousin who is a pop singer with a major label contract and big tours, a few people who going for advanced degrees - or finishing college at all) are celebrated. I always loved the big get-togethers with this group and dreaded the stuffy formal dinners at the doctor-and-nurse, tennis-loving, spoiled kids-containing house on the other side.

Now I see all of these people much more infrequently and can appreciate them for what they are. I think I’m going to land somewhere in the middle - a (probably almost-broke for life) music teacher, few or no kids, some ideals taken from both sides.

Yes. I listed all the bad things, but these families are often super-loyal and supportive to each other, and in spite of being head-shaking messes, they do manage to have fun in life! Not only buying the biggest TV and every new gadget, but my god, the celebrations! Everything, every occasion, is celebrated! (My friend’s boyfriend came from a family (not quite trashy, maybe a step up) and they didn’t have a dime to spare, but there were 12 - 12! of them with birthdays in March and April every year, and each and every one of them got a party. Momma made a Duncan Hines cake in the battered old 9 x 11 pan, yellow or chocolate, and happy birthday was sung at 12 separate parties.)

LOL, I tend to agree, and obviously my dad disagreed, they were married from 1949 until he died just about 2 years ago. And I think my brother and I turned out pretty well :smiley:

Reportin’ fer duty!

I’m half-white trash via my mother.