21 NACOS #1.11 Recognizing the Culture of American White Poverty

Native American Course of Study (NACOS)

NACOS #1.12 Recognizing the Culture of American White Poverty – challenges to ministry.
David O Kueker

Tools for Cross-Cultural Ministry 

Ruby K Payne
With a view through an economic lens that has only become sharper and more focused since its initial publication in 1995, Framework’s premise is unchanged: Middle-class understandings of children and adults in poverty are often ill-suited for connecting with people in poverty and helping them build up the resources to rise out of poverty and into self-sufficiency.
Nearly 25 years and 1.8 million copies later, innumerable individuals and groups have used Framework to create a groundswell of responses to the challenge of poverty. Educators, social service and healthcare workers, law enforcement and the judiciary, communities, employers, and individuals from all walks of life are engaged in supporting children and adults to build resources, patterns of learning, and behaviors that will help them exit poverty.
Expanded edition includes:
Best practices teachers can use immediately to improve outcomes
Deep dives into the mindsets of generational poverty, middle class, and wealth
New case studies, exhaustive references, and an evolving understanding of poverty’s intersections with race, health, immigration, and more

A Framework for Understanding Poverty: A Cognitive Approach, 6th Edition

The Ugly American by Eugene Burdick & William J. Lederer  

Wikipedia: The Ugly American is a 1958 political novel by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer that depicts the failures of the U.S. diplomatic corps in Southeast Asia. The book caused a sensation in diplomatic circles and had major political implications. The Peace Corps was established during the Kennedy administration partly as a result of the book. The bestseller has remained continuously in print and is one of the most influential American political novels.[1] It has been called an “iconic Cold War text.”[2]

Amazon description: The multi-million-copy bestseller that blends truth and fiction in a “devastating indictment of American policy” (New York Times Book Review).

     A piercing exposé of American incompetence and corruption in Southeast Asia, The Ugly American captivated the nation when it was first published in 1958. The book introduces readers to an unlikely hero in the titular “ugly American”―and to the ignorant politicians and arrogant ambassadors who ignore his empathetic and commonsense advice. In linked stories and vignettes set in the fictional nation of Sarkhan, William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick draw an incisive portrait of American foreign policy gone dangerously wrong―and how it might be fixed.

     Eerily relevant sixty years after its initial publication, The Ugly American reminds us that “today, as the battle for hearts and minds has shifted to the Middle East, we still can’t speak Sarkhanese” (New York Times).

“Drugs or Jesus”
Tim McGraw – Drugs Or Jesus (Official Music Video)
Lyrics: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/timmcgraw/drugsorjesus.html

Brad Paisley – When I Get Where I’m Going ft. Dolly Parton (Official Video)
Lyrics: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/bradpaisley/whenigetwhereimgoing.html

Review: White Trash: A new window into the time-honored tradition of American politicians stoking racial and class tensions for personal gain. By LAURA MILLER. JUNE 15, 2016


Review: The Original Underclass: Poor white Americans’ current crisis shouldn’t have caught the rest of the country as off guard as it has. Story by Alec MacGillis and ProPublica. SEPTEMBER 2016 ISSUE The Atlantic Magazine


Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis is a 2016 memoir by J. D. Vance about the Appalachian values of his Kentucky family and their relation to the social problems of his hometown of Middletown, Ohio, where his mother’s parents moved when they were young.


Vance describes his upbringing and family background while growing up in the city of Middletown, Ohio, which is the third-largest city in the Cincinnati metropolitan area. He writes about a family history of poverty and low-paying, physical jobs that have since disappeared or worsened in their guarantees, and compares this life with his perspective after leaving that area and life. Though Vance was raised in Middletown, his mother and her family were from Breathitt County, Kentucky. Their Appalachian values include traits like loyalty and love of country despite social issues including violence and verbal abuse. He recounts his grandparents’ alcoholism and abuse, and his unstable mother’s history of drug addictions and failed relationships. Vance’s grandparents eventually reconciled and became his de facto guardians. He was pushed by his tough but loving grandmother, such that Vance was able to leave Middletown and ascend social ladders to attend Ohio State University and Yale Law School.

     Alongside his personal history, Vance raises questions such as the responsibility of his family and people for their own misfortune. Vance blames hillbilly culture and its supposed encouragement of social rot. Comparatively, he feels that economic insecurity plays a much lesser role. To lend credence to his argument, Vance regularly relies on personal experience. As a grocery store checkout cashier, he watched welfare recipients talk on cell phones although the working Vance could not afford one. His resentment of those who seemed to profit from poor behavior while he struggled, especially combined with his values of personal responsibility and tough love, is presented as a microcosm of the reason for Appalachia’s overall political swing from strong Democratic Party to strong Republican affiliations. Likewise, he recounts stories intended to showcase a lack of work ethic including the story of a man who quit after expressing dislike over his job’s hours and posted to social media about the “Obama economy”, as well as a co-worker, with a pregnant girlfriend, who would skip work.

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America

By: Nancy Isenberg

Nancy G. Isenberg is an American historian, and T. Harry Williams Professor of history at Louisiana State University.

Throughout its history, the United States has always had a class system. It is not only directed by the top 1 percent and supported by a contented middle class. We can no longer ignore the stagnant, expendable bottom layers of society in explaining the national identity. The poor, the waste, the rubbish, as they are variously labeled, have stood front and center during America’s most formative political contests. During colonial settlement, they were useful pawns as well as rebellious troublemakers, a pattern that persisted amid mass migrations of landless squatters westward across the continent. Southern poor whites figured prominently in the rise of Abraham Lincoln’s Republican Party, and in the atmosphere of distrust that caused bad blood to percolate among the poorer classes within the Confederacy during the Civil War. White trash were dangerous outliers in efforts to rebuild the Union during Reconstruction; and in the first two decades of the twentieth century, when the eugenics movement flourished, they were the class of degenerates targeted for sterilization. On the flip side, poor whites were the beneficiaries of rehabilitative efforts during the New Deal and in LBJ’s “Great Society.” At all times, white trash remind us of one of the American nation’s uncomfortable truths: the poor are always with us. A preoccupation with penalizing poor whites reveals an uneasy tension between what Americans are taught to think the country promises—the dream of upward mobility—and the less appealing truth that class barriers almost invariably make that dream unobtainable. Of course, the intersection of race and class remains an undeniable part of the overall story.

Isenberg, Nancy. White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America (pp. xv-xvi). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.


THREE REQUIRED RESOURCES: (a website, a video, a third item.)

Session Text: “SEMINAR TWO: An Invitation to Dialogue; Focus: Conversations Change Lives”, page

Website link #1

Video –

3rd Item


Website link #2 – webpage TBA

Website link #3 – webpage TBA



DISCUSSION QUESTIONS – (Discussion questions will be added to the document and/or proposed on the class Facebook page.)


This entry was posted in aaNACOS Drafts. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.