Instaread Summary of White Trash The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg
Five out of five stars
For some time it appears that only people that understand history know that the passage in the Declaration of Independence “. . . that all men are created equal” did not include all people. In this context the word “men” was referring to all landowning white males. Females, Native Americans and free and enslaved blacks were not considered equal to their “betters.” The purpose of this book is to emphasize that fact regarding white people and point out that it lingers today.
The phrase “(poor) white trash” has been used for many years to refer to the economic underclass of white people. One strong point in the summary points out the critical fact that there are far more poor white people in the United States than there are of any minority group. Yet, some of the more racist elements in the society are convinced that most of the people on welfare are people of color.
One great point made in the summary is that poor whites tend to have a more racist trend in their thought patterns. Since they are looked down on by wealthier whites, being prejudiced against people of color is one way that they can increase their feelings of self worth.
The summary mentions one point that is certain to be controversial and that is that there is less opportunity for the poor to become well off in the United States than the popular view claims. Secondly, it is a historical fact that poor immigrants have been discriminated against and exploited since the states were colonies. Before there were slaves, there were indentured servants, people that worked for years to pay off the cost of being transported across the Atlantic.
While the story of the role of the poor white people in American society is not untold, people that know the history are well aware of what has transpired. The problem is that the history has been overwhelmed by consistent and broad claims of opportunity that simply do not exist. While there are uplifting success stories, the reality is that it is harder to rise from poverty than is claimed.
There are many good points made in this summary, convincing the reader that the book is well worth reading. For in the words of a famous sportscaster, “It tells it like it is.”
This book was made available for free for review purposes.