Trash, not class
“ ‘White Trash.’ For many, the name evokes images of trailer parks, homegrown meth labs, and beat-up Camaros, rural poor whites with too many kids and not enough government cheese. It’s a putdown for the down and out and white. White trash is the name given to those whites who don’t make it, either because they’re too lazy or too stupid. Or maybe because something’s wrong with their inbred genes. Whatever the reason, it’s their own [. . .] fault they live like that. They’ve got nobody to blame but themselves.
“It’s sometimes used to name the rich and famous when they act badly or misbehave. So, despite her millions, Paris Hilton can be called white trash for her pornographic lifestyle. [. . .]
“All of which makes the reality that white trash names pretty complicated and confusing. Is it, as John Waters once said, ‘the last racist thing you can say and get away with’? Or has it transformed into a symbol of something like ethnic pride?”
Matt Wray, writing on “That Ain’t White,” in American Sexuality at nsrc.sfsu.edu