"Here is a voice not often heard in our difficult but necessary conversations about justice and inclusion. Cedar Monroe reveals another layer of complexity in the quest for Beloved Community with this provocative study of poor white people in America, and the forces that seek to prevent them from claiming solidarity across racial lines with others who are poor."
A Poor White Journey
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Human beings are not trash, and the system that enables humans to imagine each other as such needs to end.
Every day across the US, 66 million poor white people pay the price for failing whiteness. In this sweeping debut, activist and chaplain Cedar Monroe writes indelibly about and for poor white people: about unlearning the American dream, untangling from white supremacy, and working for liberation alongside other poor folks.
Monroe introduces us to people who are poor and unhoused in a small town in Washington, who eke out a living on land that once provided timber for the nation. On the banks of the Chehalis River, we meet residents of the largest homeless encampment in the county, who face sweeps and evictions and are targeted by vigilantes before bringing their case to federal court. We watch a community grapple with desperation, government neglect, and its own racism. From visits to jails, flophouses, tent cities, and on trips to hospitals and funeral homes, we see leaders forging connections between their people and the global movement to end poverty.
With trenchant insight born of liberation theology, radical politics, and an even more radical hope, Monroe introduces us to people hammering out survival strategies and hope in the abandoned zones of empire. Capitalism and colonialism have stolen land from Indigenous people, forced workers into dangerous jobs, and then left them to die when their labor was no longer needed. But what would happen if poor white folks rejected the empty promises of white supremacy and embraced solidarity with other poor people? What if they joined the resistance to the system that is, slowly or quickly, killing us all? Trash asks us to see anew the peril in which poor white people live and the choices we all must make.