It’s not Pessimism, it’s Reality
Reading Hillbilly Elegy and White Trash has been a cathartic experience for me. Now, my family isn’t the backwoods of Appalachia but the Deep North isn’t exactly known for its refinement. The farther I move into adulthood, the more intimately familiar I get with Poverty. With her hair, her eyes, her smell, her nose. She is a nymph of circumstance and I know from living that she is not always fair.
However, one aspect that stood out to me was how much people commented on poor white’s outlook on life. We’re almost universally a pessimistic group of people, and I believe that pessimism is used to further isolate us from the norm. For one, society likes to mold itself as some sort of positive Fairy Godmother that only focuses on the bad when they’re forced. We have a words for that: privilege, naïveté, ignorance…take your pick.
Two, why would poor white’s — or any group — feel that way? They’ve been proven right. Granted, there are a lot of people who sit on their ass and do nothing, but for the most part, society has pushed certain segments of the population back into corners and then derides us when we bare fangs. Beautiful cycle, isn’t it?
However, what is one to do when the society continuously rejects you thereby validating your “pessimistic” world view? But, let’s not stop there. Let’s now imagine that no matter where you went on this Earth, those same things happened. The beatings from the people who enjoyed how easy it was to hurt you. The laughter from above at how easy it was to make you cry. Being exposed to the great irony of the world — humans are the same no matter how many of us there are — shaped me very early on.
For that, I reject the label of pessimistic, and I always have. The world is not negative because you don’t like the truth.