Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Poor Pam

It was 20+ years ago, but I believe her name was Pam. Being one of the few women in my engineering classes, I knew who she was. One glance told me she was strongly Scots-Irish.

Well, what I really thought was 'hillbilly'. Because many of the settlers of rural mountain communities were Scots-Irish, and at the time I didn't know enough to distinguish between the two.

She had to have been smart or she wouldn't have been there - getting in as an out of state student cost at least an extra 100+ SAT points on each test. And she was in a big city at a major university instead of back home in what I believe was southwestern Virginia. Things were changing for Pam.

But then one fall she didn't return to the campus. According to the campus newspaper, back at home that summer she broke up with her long-term boyfriend. And he killed her.

Feminists would want to think of this as a male-violence thing, but to me it was about something else that nobody wants to talk about. Poor whites.

Although whites as a group are more affluent than blacks, there have always been more poor whites than poor blacks. But they usually don't live in urban areas, so they don't show up on TV except as exhibits on "Jerry Springer" (but they'd better not show up in blackface, huh?). They're diffused, so they don't have any influence, and they're too hard to mobilize on Election Day. They too have poor school systems that tend to keep them back home, where there's little opportunity. They often have associates that tend to pull them back down when they try to escape their rural ghettoes.

But they have no excuses. Poor blacks are there because they're kept down by the Man. Poor whites have all the advantages of course - they're white, aren't they?

And if you craft a political appeal to them, just watch the accusations roll in. Do you think they're racist? If so, what does that supposition say about you?

All of you who are so !@#$ sensitive to what you inferred Trent Lott might have meant with his silly throwaway line at a party a few days ago - see if you can't be as demanding the next time you hear references to "rednecks", or "crackers", or "hillbillies", or just plain old "white trash".

We miss you, Pam.

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