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Hillbilly

Hillbilly is a pejorative nickname for people who dwell in remote, rural, mountainous areas. In particular the term refers to residents of the Ozarks and Appalachia in the United States.
History
It is believed that the term "hillbilly" originally referred to Scots-Irish immigrants of mainly Presbyterian origin, who brought their cultural traditions with them when they moved to the United States. Many of their stories, songs and ballads dealt with past history from their original homeland, especially relating the tale of the Protestant King William III, Prince of Orange, who defeated the Roman Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

Supporters of King William came to be known as Orangemen and Billy Boys (Billy being an abbreviation of William; the term "Billy Boy" is still used today, mainly in Northern Ireland). When considerable numbers of these Scots-Irish immigrants settled in hilly regions during the early 18th Century, they were nicknamed "hillbillies" by the occupying British soldiers.

Alternatively, it is also speculated that the term emerged as a derogatory nickname for the hill-dwelling settlers of eastern Tennessee, most of whom were staunchly pro-Union during the American Civil War. Billy Yank was the common term for Union soldiers, the nemesis of the Confederate Johnny Reb.

The use of the word was probably most apt (and relatively inoffensive) during the period between the western expansion of the early-to-mid nineteenth century and the post-war period of the 1940s. The advent of the interstate highway system and television brought many previously isolated communities into mainstream United States culture in the 1950s and 1960s, but many communities with relatively traditional lifestyles remain throughout the region.

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Historically, there were conflicts between 'hillbillies' and the planters who lived on the plains. During the American Civil War, many resident of western Virgina were pro-Union in that they generally did not own slaves and resented the political dominance of planters who did. This resentment was a contributing factor to the creation of the state of West Virginia. This affiliation may also be observed in the pro-Union names of many rural Appalachian areas, e.g. Lincoln County or Union County.

Country and Western music was originally called hillbilly music, even by its fans, until the late 1950s. However the older name is now deemed offensive (and silly) and is hardly ever used. The first tune that contained the word 'hillbilly' was “Hillbilly Boogie” by the Delmore Borthers in 1946. However, in 1927, the Gennett studios marked a recording of fiddler Jim Booker with other instrumentalists as “Made for hillbilly” and marketed it to a white audience. By the late forties, radio stations broadcast music described as "hillbilly:" originally to describe fiddlers and string bands but was then used to describe the traditional music of the people of the Appalacians mountains. The people who actually sang these songs and lived in the Appalachians mountains never used this word to describe their own music. When the Country Music Association was founded in 1958, the term gradually fell out of use.
Modern usage
Today, "hillbilly" has increasingly insulting connotations - especially as knowledge of the word's fairly harmless origins are forgotten.

To the people of the Appalachian Mountains, the term "hillbilly" carries a negative connotation which has been greatly emphasized by how Hollywood movies and films portray the "hillbilly" as impoverished, ill-educated, toothless, shoeless, unstylish, inbred, etc. While such stereotyping is generally offensive, socio-economic realities have left much of the Appalachian region impoverished, although the economy has been steadily improving since the 1990s. Top

White trash

White trash (extended: poor white trash) is a racial epithet usually used to describe certain low income caucasians, especially those characterized by crude manners or abnormally low moral standards. According to Oxford English Dictionary, "white trash" first came into common use in the 1830s as an American pejorative used by the slaves of "gentlemen" (rich white Southerners, often plantation aristocrats) against poor Caucasians who worked in the field. The term involves both behavioral characteristics (such as mannerisms, lifestyle) and overt racial characteristics (whiteness). The term is probably used most frequently in the Southeast region of the United States.

The nature of the term "white trash", the people to whom it has been applied, and the motivation of people applying the term are studied in connection to racism and politics. In full historical context, the term is difficult to define, and any definition must be considered with respect to the context in which the epithet was applied. For example, the racial meaning of "white" has changed; 150 years ago immigrants from Mediterranean Europe would not have been considered "white." At present, the U.S. census would consider these same people, such as Italians and Italian Americans to be "white."

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Some people argue that "white trash" is a racist term not because it includes the word "white", but it implies that trashiness is the normal state for black people and thus when a white person is trashy it must be specified that the person is white. Along these lines, "white trash" people are sometimes referred to as "white niggers", or "wiggers".

It has been debated why there is no comparable term commonly used for other races, such as black trash or Latino trash. The suggestion is that it is a form of "reverse racism." In particular, the acceptance of the term white trash in everyday media is questioned when offensive words referring to another race, such as nigger, are shunned.

Today, The Jerry Springer Show is an example often used to define white trash. This television show often deals with lower-class white people and situations that are generally considered to be common to the white trash stereotype (e.g. incest, illegitimate children, racist beliefs). The mostly-white audience of this show is also considered by some people to consist of white trash. Redneck Descriptions


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