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Down and Out Whites

Our rulers seem to think all whites live in wealth, security, and comfort. This myth is one of many that make it impossible to have an honest conversation about race. Here are five films about America’s impoverished and decidedly not privileged white underclass.

Wanda (1970)

A directionless woman meanders through the Pennsyltucky’s dingy and criminal underbelly. Shot like a documentary, this was one of the first films to explore Appalachian poverty.

Paper Moon (1973)

A dark comedy set in the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. A duo that may, or may not, be father and daughter set out to make a buck anyway they can.

October Sky (1999)

The son of a coal miner in southern West Virginia sets his sights on space exploration. This inspirational movie is based on a true story, and is a testament to white ingenuity and grit.

Winter’s Bone (2010)

Violent and unflinching, this movie shows the best and the worst of Ozark culture.

Nomadland (2020)

This movie follows a white woman in her 60s who lost everything during the Great Recession. Directed and written for the screen by an Asian woman (Chloé Zhao), it is one of the rare examples in the art world of a non-white who depicts whites sympathetically.