Today, I'm curious about the influence of socioeconomic position on self-perception among White Folks. Identifiers such as Cracker, Redneck, Hillbilly are often derogatory because none of those folks have any money to speak of, but at the moment, I can't think of any vocabulary words that describe middle class white people - except, maybe, Honky. There are variations within that demographic based on country of European origin - like Italians or Irish, for example. And there are Religious variations, too, such as Catholic, Protestant and Jewish - although Jewish gets a little complicated because there is a cultural component that extends beyond simple religious affiliation. When money becomes a factor, all these variations become irrelevant because nobody has near the kind of money that the descendants of Robber Barons and Slaveholders have. Now that the middle class is growing smaller by the minute (Swerve Left, The disappearing middle class), a lot of white folks have to scramble to keep from getting mixed up with their dark skinned neighbors. Maybe that's what the Teabaggers are doing - but miscellaneous groups of White People have always been jockeying for position among themselves.
If you look at college admissions statistics, we see that lower class whites are underrepresented at "selective" or "elite" universities. A NYTimes article this week, The Roots of White Anxiety, sites Minding the Campus where Russel K. Neil states:
Most elite universities seem to have little interest in diversifying their student bodies when it comes to the numbers of born-again Christians from the Bible belt, students from Appalachia and other rural and small-town areas, people who have served in the U.S. military, those who have grown up on farms or ranches, Mormons, Pentecostals, Jehovah's Witnesses, lower-middle-class Catholics, working class "white ethnics," social and political conservatives, wheelchair users, married students, married students with children, or older students first starting out in college after raising children or spending several years in the workforce. Students in these categories are often very rare at the more competitive colleges, especially the Ivy League. While these kinds of people would surely add to the diverse viewpoints and life-experiences represented on college campuses, in practice "diversity" on campus is largely a code word for the presence of a substantial proportion of those in the "underrepresented" racial minority groups.Personally, I wouldn't let in Pentecostals either - and I don't think there is a place on the demographics information form to check Italian or Greek like there is for Caucasian, Pacific Islander and Hispanic. I can't remember if Black is the race or if it's labeled African American because, here in New York anyway, there has been some disagreement among African Americans who have been here since Slavery and recent immigrants from Africa who aren't American citizens but are certainly Africans living in America. It's all very complicated.
I wonder how The Rich benefit from having all of us in the dwindling middle class arguing about Racism. It's easy to forget about a Class War when somebody is trying to instigate a Race War.