Journal Postings

Group A

03/21/02 (Honky)

 

Lisa Bard                   

In the opening chapter of Honky, there is a situation where Dalton steals a little sister. The young girl that he happens to steal is black. Dalton doesn’t understand until later that the small black girl couldn’t have been his sister. Dalton does not understand the racial differences of the society. He is ignorant to the ethnic differences. “….in the projects people seemed to come in all colors, shapes, and sizes, and I was yet unaware which were the important ones that divided up the world,” Conley said this when looking back at the situation.

At the website http://www.bookreporter.com/reviews/0520215869.asp the University of California Press points out how he becomes very aware of the differences since he becomes a white boy from the poor neighborhood. He was “too poor to be fully accepted into white middle-class circles and too white to be a member of the gangs that populated his neighborhood.” Basically, Conley wasn’t accepted in either of the neighborhoods. He tries desperately to fit in with the black and Latino kids in the neighborhood.

Also the reason that he moved to the middle class neighborhood school was because he’s mother didn’t approve of the customs of blacks and Latino. This is a good point of how different the traditions and ways people think from different races.

 

Ewa Budzynska

To start with, I look at issues relating to race, especially in the context of multiracial society, from a different perspective than my U.S peers. Poland is a fairly uniform country in terms of races, so that it is more probable to see a black person on TV (usually in American movies) than out in a city. Of course, there are racial and ethnic minorities living in Poland but they are definitely smaller and less visible than in the U.S (they constitute up to 3 % of the society). Their question is nevertheless debated more often now, as Poland opens to cultural diversity and develops more extended relations with other countries.

So, I found Dalton Conley's memoir very interesting in a sense that it describes problems that are new to me, and characteristic for big American multicultural cities. Additionally, what makes the book unique is that it says about how it feels to be white in a predominantly black and Hispanic community. Gathering his recollections from childhood, the author (narrator) observes that the awareness of his being different from other kids in the district came with time. At first, he says, the fact that other kids had darker skin had no significance to him but gradually the environment, for example the educational system, reinforced the perception of difference.

I think it is amazing that small kids are so innocent and hold no prejudices until they learn them from adults. I have actually noticed that when I was working as a baby-sitter in France; the kids did not see any difference between me and themselves and I felt much more comfortable talking in French to them than to their parents.

My final comment, this time critical, about "Honky" is that I did not like the way in which the story is told. What I mean is that the story does not happen "live", I am not drawn into it, but instead, everything is told or retold.

I found a website about the use of corporal punishment in the States because I was quite surprised while reading about it in the book. I wonder if this kind of punishment is still used by teachers. There are some links to other countries as well (with a long passage on Polish Constitution and human rights).

http://www.corpun.com/websch.htm

http://www.stophitting.com/NCACPS/NCACPS_facts_about_corporal_punishment.htm

 

 R. Eric Burdette  

The first section of Honky seems to be leading me in the direction of a very good book.  What I have read so far indicates little of racial feelings between the author and other children in his neighborhood of other races.  I think this is due to the fact that the author is still very young in his narrative.

It seems as though the author has chosen to write more about his relations with his schoolmates more than his relationship with other children his age in his neighborhood.  For example I though that when he wrote about his experiences in his first school (the school in which he was basically the only white person) that he would develop it into something very interesting about race relations.  However, the story changes completely when he is bussed to another school in which whites are the majority, and I don’t see how he is going to write about his racial experiences now that he is white school.

Reading about a white child growing up in a situation where he is a minority led me to think about my own past life experiences in a similar situation.  Though I did not undergo the strain of going to school ever where I was not in the majority (I was home schooled) I did live in a situation where I was a member of the minority.

I do like Conley’s descriptions and anecdotes about his life as a child in the projects:  How he was afraid after his family’s apartment was broken into, how he ventured into the basement to get the laundry, how he played in the projects with the other children, etc.  I think that it would be quite an experience to live in and participate in the life of the projects of New York.

I found this site about the history of one of the first Mosques built in New York City:

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/medny/nymosq1.html

 

Jamie Burke

 

Matthew Chiles

One of the things that I found to be good in this story besides him bouncing around from school to school was when he was talking about the games that he played in, and around in projects.  The game that stuck out to me was the game manhunt.  I immediately thought that this sounds like a cool game.  He started off by describing the game, and how just a few times after he was the hunted he was starting to get good at the game.  The part in the book about this game that got me was after his mom caught him he said, “Unlike baseball or football, it taught us the important skills for life in the ghetto.  It trained the hunted to evade both criminals and the police, who in that neighborhood were deemed equivalent.  And it socialized the hunters to a posse mentality.”  He then added how that helped the kids that joined a gang when they got older.   I thought that the way he uses this game to show hoe the kids prepared themselves for the life in the ghetto.

The internet site that I found was a readers forum that talks to Dalton about his book and the way he feels about the things that were going on in his life as he was growing up.  http://discussions.previewport.com:8001/articles/01/11/16/1626225.shtml

 

Tony Cleveland  

After reading the first section of Honky I found the life Dalton to be living to be very interesting.  He has been living in poorer neighborhood and his parents feel a little bad about living there.  They know there is probably someone who is more needy and needs that place to live.  He is the white minority growing up with blacks, Puerto Ricans, and Chinese in the New York area.  I like the story he tells about being a kid, the ones where he is yet to become aware of race.  There is a time in his life when he is not even aware that he part of the majority and it isn't really until he gets to school that becomes aware.  

I thought he told a few interesting stories that stand out.  One is the game called manhunt.  He basically called it practice for those who, someday, may be running and hiding from police or anyone else who might be after them.   But that games sounds like something that shouldn't be able to be done in the projects.  One kid is off hiding alone in some dark, usually deserted part of a building, while the others spend the day trying to find him.  Dalton mentions that the stairwell used to frighten him, but when he played manhunt nothing appeared to bother him. I also think he had a very smart way of fitting in.   By simply listening to other people talk he would learn enough to make them believe he knew what he was talking about.  This sounds like a very good listening skill to have.  

After reading about how devastated Dalton was by being born in the year of the rooster I decided to use a website on the Chinese calendar.  So I found this website, http://www.new-year.co.uk/chinese/calendar.htm, it doesn't the look of a placemat that you might find at Chinese restaurant but it gets the message across.  Something interesting about the site is that you click on the animal for the year you were born in.  It takes you to a page that describes that animal and lists a few famous people with the same sign.  I born the year of the rooster and share that Yoko Ono and Rod Stewart.

 

Kyle Cutnaw

While I was reading the first section of Honky, I was reminded of my own childhood. I grew up in a neighborhood similar to the one in the book, Lorain, Ohio. However, Lorain is a far cry New York City, and I'm not trying to say that I had a hard life by any means. Nevertheless, I can still relate to many aspects of this book. Lorain is a predominantly black and hispanic city that is 30 miles west of Cleveland, right on Lake Erie. In the city, there are buildings, stores, and churches with Spanish writing on them because the hispanic community is so densely populated. I used to play basketball at a place called Gargasz Park, where I was often the only white kid on a court of 20-30 people. When I was a junior in high school, someone broke into our house by means of our basement, and stole all of my CDs, video games, and nice clothes. There are nights in the summer when I leave my bedroom window open to feel the cool breeze, and fall asleep to police sirens. So naturally I experienced culture shock when I arrived here in the ghost town-like atmosphere of Bluffton. There are only 3 cops in the entire town for God's sake.

I really enjoy how the story is through Conley's eyes as he is growing up. The story provides a message while Dalton experiences his trials and tribulations. I understand the message that Dalton Conley is trying to convey in Honky. He tells us how much he has learned by witnessing a wide variety of experiences as opposed to merely a one-sided way of living. Even though he may not have had all of the luxuries in life, his experiences and memories prove to be more valuable than the loft in the city his parents almost bought that is now worth millions.

Here is my web site for the response to Honky. It is a link to my hometown

of Lorain, Ohio: http://www.lorainohio.net/

 

 

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