Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Poor White Boy Perspective

Leonard Pitts, Jr. of the Miami Herald is apparently going to be teaching somewhere near Huntington, WV, according to this op-ed he recently wrote. And that's cool, because he gets a new perspective on some things. It's what I like to call the "Poor White Boy Perspective". I've had this perspective for years, although I wouldn't really call myself poor anymore, so maybe I'm losing touch.

In his article, he talks about culture shock. I experienced some serious culture shock myself a few years ago. When I moved to North Carolina, I was both amazed and disgusted by the amount of racism, flowing in every conceivable direction, that was rampant in this area.

Whites think blacks get away with too much. Blacks think whites are ignorant and prejudiced. American Indians are a joke. Asians are rare, but mostly considered too smart for their own good. And everyone hates Mexicans.

And here's the kicker. Some Blacks do get away with too much, but they are also held back in other ways. Some white folks are ignorant and prejudiced. Not all, but most. Some American Indians do seem to have lost their pride, but they're raking in the dough. That's a choice a lot of Americans, and people all over the world, have made. Asians are far too rare, and they do tend to appear smarter than the local populace. That's not because they're special, though. It's because we're lazy. And Mexicans? Ah, Mexicans. Every stereotype that abounds about them is all to commonly true. But for the most part, they're just here to get a piece of the action, just like us poor mountaineers were, coming down the Hillbilly Highway (I-77) back in the day.

Leonard Pitts talks about how archetypes of poverty are just that, archetypes, and that they can apply to pretty much any skin color or nationality. And he's right. I hope he stays in the area long enough to learn a few things I grew up knowing, too.

Race matters, but class matters more. A rich black man trumps a poor white boy any day of the week. And a wealthy mexican isn't a mexican, he's just wealthy, at least as far as the poor are concerned.

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"Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul..." -- Mark Twain

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Fire does not wait for the sun to be hot,

Nor the wind for the moon, to be cool.

-- the Zenrin Kushu