Although I am poor and white and work by writing for a living, I know I’m not meant to be included in the phrase or demographic. I live on the outskirts of an urban city. I’m disabled. I’m a single mother. I’m gay. I voted for Clinton. I don’t blame my poverty on social welfare programs or benefit recipients of color. They don’t mean me when they say it.
“White working class” means racist, rural, redneck, Rebel flag waving Southern (or Southern wannabe) hicks who disown their queer children and beat their kids after church on Sunday. I hate classism as much as the next poor person,but I don’t need to celebrate or coddle the worst aspects of white culture to say so. I’d rather work with other urban and suburban poor. I’d rather work with people of color than racist whites. I’d rather work with people focused on real solutions, not blame.
The “white working class” must be understood for what it really means: hateful bigoted rednecks who’d shoot themselves in the wallet before they’d see a woman president, or racial equality, or an end to transphobia. They didn’t get duped or deceived into voting for human rights violations and possible genocide because they thought they’d get a raise out of it. They sacrificed overtime pay and benefits they rely on in exchange for racial animus. They bought race war, at a high cost.
Because ultimately what’s happening in the US right now is not about the economy. It’s about white supremacy. White people as a whole voted for open racism. White men, white women, white rich, white middle class, white poor. Shifting all responsibility to poor white rednecks is a convenient way for whites in the upper classes to dodge it. If we pretend it’s all simple white country folk who don’t know better, we can try to ignore the giant racist elephant in the room a little bit longer.
The situation we now find ourselves in is the fault of white racism, period. Sexism, homophobia, and ableism all played their parts, but racism was the star of this electoral show. Racism ran for president and won, and white voters (and white gerrymandering congress members) are why. It’s not about money. It’s about racial hatred three hundred years in the making, stoked for profit by FOX News and other propaganda makers. It’s racism. The “white working class” are racists.