Green’s Dictionary of Slang

peckerwood n.

also pecker
[the red woodpecker, symbol of whites, rather than the black crow, symbol of blacks]

(orig. US black) a white person, usu. a working-class Southerner; also ext. to Chicanos and Latinos; also attrib.

[US]Fort Worth Gaz. (TX) 19 Aug. 1/3: The first shot was fired by the Peckerwood party.
[US]Mt Vernon Signal (KY) 10 Nov. 2/1: Wm. Ray beat the red-headed pecker-wood, Lewis Walker.
[US]Hopkinsville Kentuckian (KY) 23 May 7/3: [She] does not mind the ‘Peckerwood’ giving her the rush.
[US]Bisbee Dly Rev. (AZ) 26 Nov. 15/5: You bald-headed old peckerwood!
[US]Mt Vernon Signal (KY) 30 Mar. 4/1: The Peckerwood-Jaybird War in Fort Bend County Texas [...] the two factions were called the Jay Birds [i.e. blacks] and Peckerwoods [i.e. whites].
[US] in Randolph & Legman Ozark Folksongs and Folklore (1992) II 591: Way down south in Arkansaw, / Peckerwood fucked his mother-in-law.
[US]J. Daniels Southern Discovers South 172–8: The gentlemen & the Negroes are afraid [...] of the rednecks, the peckerwoods. [...] Will Percy [...] found an old starving peckerwood in Greenville & he set him up in a little stand to sell papers [DA].
[US]C. Himes ‘My but the Rats are Terrible’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 323: Goddamned no count peckerwood!
[US]L. Hansberry Raisin in the Sun II ii: These here Chicago peckerwoods is some baaaad peckerwoods.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 63: Did you know that peckerwood of Pepper’s is the bankroll behind the biggest policy wheel in town?
[US]B. Hannah Geronimo Rex 155: I’ve almost forgotten what the old pecker looks like.
[US](con. 1949) J. Hurling Boomers 82: Yew kin bet yer sweet ass they ain’t gonna git outta line, even if ever last one of yew is a damnyankee peckerwood! [Ibid.] 134: Old Ernie will never forget that one, will you, pecker?
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 249: pecker [...] White person (derogatory).
[US]T. Wolfe Bonfire of the Vanities 267: Now look what you’ve done, you peckerwood!
[US]E. Little Another Day in Paradise 103: A peckerwood is a white boy who’s too dumb to know that he’s supposed to be scared of niggers, but usually hates ’em anyway just out of ignorance.
[US]F.X. Toole Pound for Pound 140: How would those two dumb peckawoods fix a fight on their own?
[US]K. Scott Hall Off the Charts 141: I don’t like that phat pocket peckerwood Vanderwall any more than you do.

In compounds

Peckerwood Town (n.)

(US black) the area inhabited by poor white people.

[US](con. 1920s–30s) J.O. Killens Youngblood (1956) 224: He had walked through Peckerwood Town as darkness fell and then through the rich whites section.