I am thinking about the term "white trash" and choices.
Is "white trash" a discriminatory term? A derogatory term? Is it a type of person or is it a "lifestyle choice"? Or is it a sum of choices?
A friend tells me that it is not discriminatory. Not an insult. A lifestyle. Then the friend says, "Some people would assume that I am white trash because I live in a trailer (manufactured home) and don't own my own land. I rent."
Would this person be white trash to you? Does it make a difference if they are male or female? Over 60? Under 30? Single? Have children? Would you feel differently about a single male parent than a single female parent? Would you feel differently if they are widowed instead of divorced?
And at what age do we become responsible?
If I am a child growing up in a household with alcoholism, verbal abuse, parents with mental health issues or grave illness or abandonment, where is the line where I become responsible for myself?
I surveyed my smokers for years, what age did you start? The men mostly said age 9. There was more cultural pressure on women, but the youngest started at 11 or 12. And then the horrific stories, where the parent is offering whiskey to a child under 10. My sister and I wandered around peoples' houses in the dark when we were under ten. She was three years younger. I was a kid who did not trust adults and was careful. Scared. So we did not get into drugs or alcohol and I hated my father's unfiltered camels. My parents would not touch illegal drugs, thankfully. I took care of my sister, but we were entirely unsupervised in barns and houses and outside....
I think that our teens are making choices at far younger ages than parents want to admit. I see parents check out when the child is fourteen or even younger. Teens who are nearly living at friends. Teens who already seem lost. And sometimes the parent is wrapped up in a divorce or a parent is sick or dying or a parent is in jail or abandons the family.
What age did you make choices? Did you make good ones? And is white trash hate speech? If you made bad choices, were you able to change later on?
What is the line between free speech and hate speech? And what is the line between love and enabling?
I am still searching....
Over the Rhine: Fool and Let it fall