‘Hillbilly Elegy’ author J.D. Vance on Yale dean’s ‘white trash’ comment

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Journal-News reporter Michael Clark spoke with best-selling author JD Vance prior to his commencement speech to the Middletown High School graduating class of 2017.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Before addressing high school graduates in his hometown of Middletown, internationally famous author J.D. Vance weighed in on the recent controversy surrounding a dean from his graduate school — Yale University — who blasted “white trash” in a racist social media rant.

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Just last week at Vance’s former college Dean June Chu of the school’s Pierson College was placed on leave after posting Yelp reviews calling customers at local restaurants “white trash” and “low class folks,” according to media accounts.

Vance shook his head Tuesday night when recalling the incident during an exclusive interview with the Journal-News.

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Vance — the best-selling author of “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” — has said his years at Yale were marked by persistent reminders that his poor Appalachian roots made him an anomaly there.

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“When I saw that story (about Dean June Chu) I just thought it is unfortunately an attitude that exists a little bit too much in elite institutions. This idea that people aren’t worthwhile (or) they are not good because of where they came from, or maybe because of their accent or their approach to thinking about the world,” he said.

“That’s one of the reasons I wrote the book, because I think that attitude is very real. And it’s unfortunately something I really do think drives a divide between educational institutions’ so-called elites and a lot of folks who are just working and trying to get by. I was pretty disappointed when I heard those remarks,” said Vance.

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