IRL: Another Poor White Trash Motherfucker

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Poverty Sometimes Looks Like This  Image: Google Earth

by Ian Tingen

If you haven’t read Jonna Ivin‘s excellent “I know why poor whites chant: Trump, Trump, Trump“, you should do so right now. It’s uncommonly insightful, and gets down to the nitty gritty of poverty in a way that most haven’t dissected it.

She was nice enough to talk with me about the book I’m working on, and inspired me to take more honest ownership of a part of my identity I’ve had to hide to get ahead. Below, I fix that.

As always: I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment and share below.


You ever have one of those moments where you become uncomfortable with something you commonly say? Today it was:

“I play the game of life on easy difficulty: I’m an educated, cishet, white male in the US.”

When I say that, I am making a big part of my identity invisible. I grew up desperately poor, the product of parents with subpar ‘education’. My economic class (and the commensurate dearth of training, experience, and socialization it came with) constantly tripped me up in the academy. My background has also been problematic in my personal life. Poverty almost assuredly impacted my cognitive development, and potentially my lifespan, too. I have been, sadly, ashamed of my origins – and ashamed that many times I have lacked so much of what so many of my peers consider normal. I’ve hidden who I am to fit in – to pass for ‘rich’. I’ve also seen firsthand how vicious people can be when you bring up poverty in an intersectional framework: if it’s not laughed at or dismissed out of hand, it’s pooh-pooh’ed for ‘the real issues’. Fuck ALL of that.

There is no shame in my origin. There’s never been a lack of will, effort, or drive. I know that the lies both the left and the right tell themselves about poverty are just that: lies. I do not need to hide who I am – even if I know the cost of that honesty. I will miss the old one-liner, but for now:

“My name is Ian. While I am afforded privilege as an educated, cishet, white male in the US, that is far from my entire truth. I grew up below the poverty line. That single facet of my life has shaped me more than anything else I have encountered – and I am not alone.”

If you want to talk more about this reality, ask me questions, or tell me about where I can cinch up my bootstraps, feel free to do so below.


 

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