Of Rednecks And Niggers

In my piece over at The Root I put out the following challenge:

I saw no picket signs when Toby Keith declared himself—on his sixth album—White Trash With Money. I'm still looking for the white Al Sharpton, who'll deign to protest Jeff Foxworthy for his album, You Might Be A Redneck If…While we were hemming and hawing over potty-mouthed MCs, Steven Spielberg was backing a magazine called Heeb.

Challenge accepted. A commenter over there linked to an absolutely fascinating article on the word "Redneck." In the piece the writer, Will Campbell, basically argues that Redneck is a racial slur. I think that's pretty inarguable. But he actually goes further and parrellels many of the argumunets that people make about nigger. The Essence:

I am growing weary of people like Jeff Foxworthy making millions of dollars with their "You may be a redneck if..." books and television shows.  If what?  You may be a redneck if you eat fried squirrel and Moonpies for breakfast, for example.  Well I ate fried squirrel for breakfast of necessity, sir, but Moon pies were a delicacy for the more affluent. We didn't have the nickel the Moon pie cost in

Amite   County



in those days.  You may be a redneck if you mix Jack Daniels with butterscotch malted milks.  Don't knock it if you ain't tried it, Mr. Foxworthy, but those of the poor, rural, working class of the South of my youth had neither a surplus of Jack Daniels nor butterscotch ice cream around the house to mix.  You may be a redneck if you hang around the bus station all day and pick your nose.  Very funny.  But put those putdowns in front of the epithets used to describe and insult African-Americans, women, Jews, people of Polish, Italian, Japanese or Chinese extraction, or any other ethnic, racial, or gender minority and see how many of your politically correct friends laugh. But redneck isn't indexed yet. Well, let's index it.  There comes a time when a body gets weary.

There seems to be a subtle difference in that if feels like Campbell's beef is that people are basically making fun of poor Southern whites, not that it's been reinvented with a measure of cool. Anyway, it's a fairly interesting piece. Worth taking a look.