Journal Postings

Group B & C

04/02/02 (Honky)

 

Scott Van Eman

Honky was an especially interesting book for me due to the fact that it so closely goes along with my research paper topic. I found myself really identifying with the author in many ways. The thoughts he had during the book we same thoughts I am examining in my paper.

I really think this "role reversal" would be good for all of us to go through in our lives sometime. I have no doubt that the author is more well-rounded than most of our country when it comes to race and ethnicity.
This book shows how important chidhood really is. The choices we make at those ages really are the most important ones. It is funny who the author finds a positive out of having a knife put to his throat, who knew that rejection from a group would help him in the future.

Honky does give an answers to the reasons why things are the way they are, it shows how it is. In the end it is a personal choice, I really believe that. It is a responsiblity we must take upon ourselves. It is the trail least traveled.
My website is a photo tour of greenwich village NYC.
http://www.nycgv.com/about.asp

 

Group B:

Adam Drake

 

William Fisher

The hawk mentioned in chapter seven seemed to be a sense of symbolism throughout the neighborhood.  People had to take time out of what they were doing to check out the hawk and see what it was up to.  It was a connection for the projects in a way because people did not know what it was going to do everyday.  Somehow shaping his or her own lives just by watching the hawk.

In some ways, nothing feels better then spending the money that you have earned for yourself.  You feel no guilt because you did not have to get money from someone else but you earned it all by yourself.  Telling his mom he stole from the store ended up being a good thing because he then had to work to pay off his debt to his mom and to himself too because his emergency money was gone from buying junk food.  Thus giving him the sensation of having his own money he rightfully earned.

I was somewhat angry when I read the part about his glove being taken because that was bull crap.  Many people would tell him to stick up for himself and cause a fight but when someone else is holding a knife to your throat then your decision making is a little off.  It sucks when you are trying to have fun and be polite when letting other people use your things because they do not have one then they go off and be a hard ass and take it from you right in your face and you cannot do anything about it.  Sesame Street had little to do with anything except for the fact that the kid had money, but having the money and the respect of others gave him the power to do as he pleased.

I am getting into this book; it is very interesting and makes me wanting to read more each time.  Books like these are fun to read and when books are fun and interesting, the outcome is better because people actually read their assignments.  Being white in a black neighborhood has to be a struggle just by the simple fact that you are the minority.  You get to taste their life in the real world compared to your projects because that is how it is.  It may be the wrong thing to say but it true.

 

Bradley Immel

"honky" is definitely a book about race, equality and class.  the book kind of deals w/ the notion that whites seem to take their skin color for granted and don't seem to understand what it means and/or what it could mean.  to me, it means that whites have lighter skin and that it could mean they(whites) may not always be the majority in this world.  to the little girl who so despirately wanted a baby sister, she wanted to know so many different answers to so many different question.  questions like how old will my sister be when i'm five?  when will we know whether it's actually a girl?  it could be a little baby boy.  the author said that skin color never entered into her mind. 

except when in the course of her life her father tried to "engage her curiosity" in his own way,  he gave her colored makers and asked her to draw a picture of the baby.  she immediatly grabbed at the black marker.  why?  i think that no matter how a person tries to incoorperate the fact that skin color shouldn't be an issue, it will always be determined by the unbringing and the experince one has in their life.  she grabbed at the black marker maybe because she was young, but maybe because that's all she knew existed.  her small experiences in living made her choose that color and because we know she would probably freak out if the baby's skin color was white.

anyway, i think that no matter where you are from and no matter what color of skin you have, their is alway hope lingering in the air.

the commission for racial equality is a publically funded, non-governmental body set up under the race relations act of 1976 to tackle racial discrimination and promote racial equality.  it provides information and advice to people who think they have been victim to racial discrimination.  i couldn't find anything really relavent to the book other than reviews so i chose this.  www.cre.gov.uk/

 

Erika Keegan

 

Jill Kerlin

This book allowed me, as a white, middle-class American, to see the division that exists between classes and races.  It is debated whether or not this division still exists in a country that prides itself in making enormous steps toward equality within the past few decades, but it is explicitly evident in Dalton Conley's life.  It was difficult for me to grasp the relationships between Conley and both his neighbors and schoolmates.  I think that this is due, in part, to the confusion that Conley himself experienced.  He struggled in relationships with the boys in his neighborhood, even while they shared the same economic status, because he was white; yet, was not accepted by his white peers at school due to the fact that he was in a lower class.  In effect, he didn't fit in anywhere.  Throughout the novel, Conley, in an attempt to distinguish his place in society, relates himself with both the upper crust white elitists, and the poverty-stricken minority.  In this passage, following the assembly in which whites dominate the music controversy, he relates himself to the minority: "Our confidence gave way to a sense of cultural defeat, an unspoken presumption that the white kids would always be right, even about things we thought belonged to us.  Our image of ourselves as makers and beneficiaries of a cultural renaissance disappeared for the time being" (p.147).  He speaks of himself a member of the white majority in this passage after being attacked by Sean, however: "This is the privilege of the middle and upper classes in America - the right to make up the reasons things turn out the way they do, to construct our own narratives rather than having the media and society do it for us" (p. 110).  This struggle of existing between class and race, rather than existing within them, continues to plague Conley throughout the novel.

 

This website talks about Dalton Conley and outlines what he's been doing since he wrote "Honky."  It was interesting to see how his experiences led him to his career in sociology studying class and race, and to get some closure of the book by seeing how he overcame his struggles while growing up. http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/politicsphilosophyandsociety/story/0,6000,468693,00.html

This website is actually a portion of a pamphlet on ending racial discrimination by establishing class unity.  It claims that there is a new class of poor that can break the control that exploits them. http://www.lrna.org/texts/movingon/movingon.8.html

 

Lisa Langood

This book reminded me of my own life growing up near Cleveland.  I grew up in a developing suburb about eighteen miles out side of Cleveland.  I didn’t have to deal with race or as much violence as Dalton did.  There were only about three black students in my school.  I don’t think there was any discrimination against them.  At least there wasn’t any that I knew about.  There were quite a few fights.  Students would fight each other over really stupid reasons.  All the other students would gather around and watch them go at it until a teacher interfered and broke it up.  Drugs were a major problem.  It got to the point where we had “drug dogs” come in occasionally to sniff our lockers and cars.  Everyone I knew in my hometown was on drugs.  One thing that surprised me about the book is the lack of people who are using drugs.  There wasn’t a lot of violent crime, but occasionally there were some incidences, like the time a women was caught on video trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband.   

I could relate to Dalton’s experience in Pennsylvania.  It reminds me of the contrast between Greater Cleveland and Bluffton.  I understood exactly what he meant when he says, “we had no idea how to react when people we didn’t know waved to us…we didn’t know what to say when someone on the dirt road that ran behind our cottage asked how we were.  Such friendliness was not part of our America. (115).”  It shocked me when I first came here to have strangers saying “hi” to me.  I was used to being ignored or having insult hurled at me if I walked down the street.  I’m still amazed by how naive people here seem to be.  I always have to yell at my friends to make sure the car door is locked behind them.  People are still shocked if I tell them how everyone I know smokes pot.  On the other hand I’m surprised when people tell me how at their high school everyone got along, never fought or did drugs, and everyone belonged to the same youth group.  It makes me feel as if I grew up in another world. 

I did a search for Dalton Conley on the internet.  I found at article at http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2000/12/14/conley/, where Conley, Phillip Lopate, and Jonathon Lethem discuss Honky.  All three men had experienced growing up as the only white kid in a black and Hispanic neighborhood.  They discuss how their experiences were similar to what Conley had described in his book

 

Angel Lombardo-Edwards

I understand how Dalton felt through his story.  I grew up in a poor neighborhood composed of Italian immigrants, African Americans, and poor whites for the first four years of my life.  My best friend, who is African American, still lives there.  She has a good job but not near the resources I have and I personally feel that I need to hide that at times.  Like Dalton, my personality and priorities have to change upon leaving Bluffton and going back home to Union Street in Lima.  My comparison is very much small scale in contrast to Daltons but I do understand the difference in cultures and the great guilt one may feel by having “more” but also the great relief we feel for having escaped from a life of poverty and crime.

I focused a lot on Ellen and why she made the choices that she made.  She obviously had the resources through her parents to make a different choice in a living environment for her family if she wanted.  I wonder if the culture and money she grew up with were not what she wanted her children to see?  I personally could not have my children live in an environment like the one I grew up in.  I realize that they may indeed grow up to be like some of the people in this town who focus on material goods and strive for the upper middle class life.  I hope they find diversity and culture along their paths, but the safety I feel here in “Mayberry” means more to me at this moment than diversity.  Like the author, I believe it is easier to make it through life when you have experienced being poor and being comfortable.  And my feelings about the girl I tutor, Megan, probably bother me so much because that could have been me, if my mother had not moved me out of Lima, I would be in the same boat as her.  And if you think about all that, at least when I do, I feel guilt and relief.  Just like Dalton feels in his book.  If I had stayed in that poor neighborhood, where crime was norm, it very well could have been me in jail right now.

The book was excellent.  To be honest I am glad I am in this class, seems like I never get to read anything that I want to anymore, and I have read some great books for this class.  Thanks.

The web site I found was http://www.salon.com/politics/feature/2001/04/05/black_wealth/  This web page is an article written by Dalton Conley about estate tax and how eliminating it would widen the gap between white and black wealth. He talks of assets and net worth, much that I have heard in social science class, but has some great ideas on how to decrease the financial gap between the races.  But hey, you are going to hear me say this again, we are never going to get anywhere with our government.  I hate to be so pessimistic, but woman and minorities are screwed.  Until we have equal representation in our government the white male will indeed make laws to benefit his own.  And all the while, I have to look at him on the television, read about him in the paper, perhaps even work for him and listen to a copious amount of shit fly from his mouth about how he longs to make it better for the minorities and women of America.  I am ever so amazed at how I was an upper middle class American last year, and now upon leaving my husband I am poor.  He is not mind you, but I am.  The only nice thing I have is a leased car that I cannot even afford, but it has a bumper-to-bumper warranty and is reliable.  I will probably be living in it by summer with the three kids.  After reading this book, I will take some strength from Dalton’s mother.  Poor or not, my children and I will succeed.                 

 

Group C:

Rachel Mack

One of the things that jumped out at me was at the end of Chapter 9.  The passage read, “This is the privilege of the middle and upper classes in America---the right to make up the reasons things turn out the way they do, to construct our own narratives rather than having the media and society do it for us” (Conley 110).  I was just struck by this statement because I really do believe it is true.  In this book, Dalton has this privilege because of his being white and going to a good school.  We also can see it when he started feeling above his neighbors in the prospects and also when he talked about them being responsible for being poor and the situation they are in.

Towards the beginning of Chapter 9, the situation with Dalton and Sean confused me.  I really did not understand why Sean decided to pick on Dalton and threaten him with the knife.  The fight, or argument was with Dalton and James, and before anything could come of it, Sean pulled Dalton to the ground with the knife to his neck.  Then making him dance on his tiptoes seemed unnecessary to me.  I don’t know if you would call this stating his superiority over the neighborhood or what you would call it.  The other thing I did not understand is that Sean winked at Dalton before he ran away.  That left no explanation for me.

http://home.nyu.edu/~dc66/byline_frmset.html

This website is about the author Dalton Conley.  I found it interesting because it provides information about what he is doing now.  It gives information on the books that he has written, essays and articles in magazines, and also about where he has taught.  The site also gives us a few examples of some of his research that he has done.

 

Amanda Mills

I really am enjoying this book. What has me fascinated right now is how the author coping with his different school mates. It must have been hard on him being the poor kid at greenwich village. i must admit, however, that he did a marvelous job fitting in. he was a very smart kid and not anyone can pick up on hints from sitcoms or word definitions that fast. but then again not many children discuss the presidential elections while only being in the third grade. i think that if Dalton hadn't been bused to another school he would be a different person today. the poor guy had to live in two different worlds and that is hard even on adults. also, being able to spend time with these children outside of class helped the author as well. he saw how the other half lived and in dealing with that he had to discover who he was on the inside.

http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/irts/c31_dist.html 

 

Magdalena Perz  

First of all, I must admit that I really enjoyed reading “Honky”. I find it amazing how many details Dalton Conley could remember from his childhood after so many years. What fascinates me in such autobiographical accounts written from a long perspective is the selection of stories that are included. Obviously, the criteria are usually very subjective. However, it is worth analyzing what made the author remember one situation better than another. Furthermore, what I find extraordinary about the book is its narrator. I think that sometimes the reader gets lost and does not remember any more whether he is listening to a story told by a teenager or an adult.

What is more, I found some of the issues raised by the author very shocking or, at least, surprising. I wouldn’t think that he might be ashamed of his neighborhood, as it wasn’t his racial or ethnical environment. That is why, according to me, he shouldn’t have felt responsible for its vulgarity, dirt and violence. Furthermore, I was wondering how he could put up with the thought of the possibility of being mugged just on the daily basis. Surprisingly, keeping money sticked to his insole was treated by him as part of a daily routine, not a sad reminder of great sudden danger.

Another thing I found interesting about “Honky” was the fact that it dealt with racism. I think that the perspective from which it could be seen gives a reader a broader view of inter-racial relationships. In my opinion, both: Conley and Spike Lee make us realize that it is not enough just to have a contact- you need communication in order to form a well- functioning multiethnic community. Besides, both pictured in their works how much importance is always attached to music and what a meaningful manifestation of human identity it is.

The website:

http://www.thirteen.org/tenement

It shows the origins and the history of the Lower East Side.

Jennifer Peterson

Honky is an excellent book that maps out all the feelings and memories of this boy. I thought that this was wonderfully depicted story of how everyone feels growing up. Only Dalton had very specific reasons for feeling out of place. Many of us growing up in Bluffton and places like it don't have that benefit. Most of us, including me have had to wait many years in order to understand why we felt so out of place and so alone in a room full of people.

When he talked about the moment that he first felt that he grew up, I understood that. When something happens to you at that age that makes you rethink and rethink again everything that you thought was safe and normal, it causes you to grow and to be much more independent. I speak from experience. When I was in seventh grade my mother sat me down and told me some things that I never knew and never saw within my family. After she told me those terrible things it seemed that everything made sense, and yet it didn't. How could I have been so blind to not see these things? Now, since many years have past I now understand. I was too young to understand exactly what was going on and what was normal.

Dalton and I are alike in yet another way. I had maybe 1 or 2 good friends in jr. high and high school. And even those were school friends, meaning that we only talked at school. So my parents never had to worry about if I was on the phone too long, because I was never on the phone! Once again, now that I am old I now understand that not everyone has that jolt of reality at a young age. Not everyone has to grow up and think about how they are going to escape from the life that was given to us. 

Dalton was able to escape by going to Berkley.
But I think that in the end you escape to the life that you had before. I think that everyone is trying to get back to that perfect world that we knew as children that life. That life we thought was normal and beautiful. Some of us are still trying and others, hopefully, have found that spot in the world and in the life.

http://www.tenant.net/Community/LES/contents.html

http://shadow.autono.net/

 

Lori Pongtana

In the chapter about "Symmetry", Dalton Conley discusses how he developed obsessive-compulsive disorder.  I did not think that a trauma, like the one Dalton's friend Jerome experienced, could cause such a response from a child.  Problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety would seem like the most common reactions but Dalton's obsessions were so meticulous.  According to the OCD foundation though, the disorder is not caused by trauma from the outside world but a communication problem in the brain.  I know of at least one personal male friend who has and still is going through obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Also, I was always under the impression that the disorder tended to affect girls more often than boys along with eating disorders.  I realize now though that it is caused by a malfunction in the brain.

On the website I found, post-traumatic stress disorder is closely related to OCD but OCD is not caused by trauma.  Conley said that his OCD was a remnant from his childhood in a violent neighborhood but it is possible he developed emotional distress due to the strain from both his surroundings and his OCD.  In actuality, OCD was not the result of his environment.  For Conley, he may have experienced some stress from Jerome being shot but his actual disease was hidden and undetectable because it is a mental disease with both physical and mental side effects.  Conley mentioned that he still has OCD to this day.  It is hard for me to imagine that my close friend may possible experience the same outcome.

It does not seem accurate that Conley should blame his OCD on those that lived around him.  His OCD seems more of a coincidence than a direct result of a bad neighborhood.  His emphasis on OCD makes his childhood seem like all children who had or have experiences like his probably did or will develop something closely related to OCD.  I think it is fair to assume that most children in inner city neighborhoods may experience or witness trauma in their life.  They may develop post-traumatic stress disorder but I don't think I will ever assume that they will have OCD.  I think Conley is slightly misleading about who the real culprit is and he will not admit that his brain just was not functioning properly.  Otherwise though, I enjoyed his stories of growing up becuase they remind me of my childhood.

website(S): Children and OCD - www.ocfoundation.org/ocf1040a.htm

            OCD information -

www.ocfoundation.org/ocf1010a.htm

 

Nicole Radde

 

Darin Riffle

Steven Roach

Honky is an interesting book, because it talks about the real experiences of a young boy growing up in inner city New York.  Some parts of it actually reminded me of Do the Right Thing.  One such section was when the author talked about people walking around on the streets with their boom boxes blasting, or when he talked about the coming of the ice cream and Icie men, and how all the kids would gather around them.  Another thing that was similar was going to Ray’s to get some a slice of pizza.  In Do the Right Thing, it seemed that everyone stopped at Sal’s to get pizza, like it was a popular hangout for the people in the town.  Similarly, Ray’s in Honky seems to be the place that all the kids go to after school to get some pizza and hang out.

One thing that shocked me was the Anti-Nukes rally that Michael’s parents took Dalton and Michael to.  It said in the book that everyone was high and naked, mothers would just stand around nursing their infants, and trying to bum a joint off of anyone who happened to walk by.  This surprised me that Michael’s parents would take the kids to such an event, because I thought that they seemed to be a lot more conservative than that. 

Another thing I found to be a bit strange was the way the public school system worked.  I’m used to having it divided up by where you live, but apparently during that time period in New York City, it was divided by how well you did on your placement testing.  And it also surprised me how easy it was for Dalton’s Mother to arrange for him to switch schools by using a fake address.  Maybe these things are so different from what I know because of how long ago it was, or maybe its just because it’s a much larger city than the little town I have grown up in.  It could very well be either of these two things.

The first website I found has information about Honky, including reviews, a summary, and a short bio of Dalton Conley.  (http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/9087.html)

The second website I have is about a similar book, also by Dalton Conley.  It is a book about the differences in economic well being based on race.  Information about this book can be found at http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/8308.html.

 

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