A resurgence of ‘redneck’ pride, marked by race, class and Trump

red white and blue pickup

The era of redneck chic began in the 1970s, UC Berkeley linguist Geoffrey Nunberg says in a new commentary on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air show.

That’s when “the word became a badge of working-class patriotism and authenticity, as contrasted with the PC airs and affectations of the coastal elites,” he says. Now, it’s in full blossom in the U.S. presidential race. 

“When you call yourself a redneck, you’re not simply proclaiming your authenticity. You’re calling out the scorn and condescension of the people who use the word as a slur,” Nunberg says, “That’s why the word always sounds a little belligerent and why it encapsulates the populist anger and resentment that the Trump campaign has stirred.

In his commentary, Nunberg explores “redneck” and “other derogative words that have been used to describe Trump supporters and what those words say about the class conflicts that Trump’s campaign has brought to the surface.”


Read and listen to Nunberg's commentary on NPR