I Got Your Poor White Trash

First of all, I am by birth and heritage Poor White Trash. I was born and raised right here in Knoxville to a father who was a locksmith and a mother who was a "carhop" and later a cook at a BBQ restaurant on Magnolia Avenue that doesn't even exist anymore. That said, I have just a few questions and comments about the "article" which appeared in your tabloid Jan. 10: Do you people call this journalism? What exactly gives you the right to print what amounts to a four-page insult to a fairly good sized cross-sector of people from this area? Did all of this tripe start over a few Sam Adams at Patrick Sullivan's, exchanging Poor White Trash jokes?

Does a degree and Certificate of Appreciation from Whittle give you the right to publish bigotry? Or is it OK for you to sit in your Ivory Tower of pseudo-intelligentsia and print something like Mr. Gibson's "piece," thinking that only those anointed individuals would read it? Or did it occur to any of you that maybe, just maybe, some people might be hurt by this?

My dad asked me a very interesting question a long time ago: If everyone had a college education, who would pick up the garbage? Or dig the sewer line ditches? I didn't have an answer for him. Do you? Do you know who does pick up the garbage?

We all know that jokes based on ethnicity (or characteristics of certain ethnic groups) are wrong. But was Mr. Gibson's article right just because most Poor White Trash don't read your publication? I don't think so. Quite simply put, this article was no more appropriate to run in your publication than four pages of jokes about blacks, Poles, gays and lesbians or for that matter any group which may or may not have some identifying characteristic. It was offensive, divisive, and just plain uncalled-for.

Though the last page of the article tries, half-heartedly, to soften the blow (in essence mentioning Dolly Parton, Lucinda Williams and Belle Brown to say, "Well, not all Poor White Trash are bad"), it was too little, too late.

In conclusion, contempt breeds contempt; and Mr. Gibson's (and your paper's) contempt for all those economically or educationally challenged people in this area is just sad and irresponsible... And I do not believe it was journalism. It was just wrong.

David Allen Wilson


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