Day 23  November 14, 2002


1. Names. Everybody put your box number on papers/journals, then I’ll collect them. No class Tuesday.


Poster sessions: groups A and B Thursday the 21st, C and D Tuesday the 26th. As the syllabus states, you’re also responsible to come on the other day, wander around and check out what your classmates have done, do brief responses to three of their displays. Handouts.


2. On with Honky.


Ch. 5: fear. Ends with Rahim the karate instructor shot, either random or drug-related.


Class issues, ch. 6, 66 ff.


ch. 7: the neighborhood when someone else is coming home with him. Michael and class in his family, 86 ff.


Ch. 8: getting paid. Stealing, then earning some money, getting hooked into the cash economy.


Ch. 9 and 10: Pennsylvania as cross-cultural experience. End of that chapter, 114 ff., the fight with Sean over the glove, knife at the throat. 118-19 on cause and effects: this fight was “the best thing that could have happened to me,” says Conley.


Ch. 10: racism in the countryside, of a different sort: casual use of “nigger” and the teacher’s joke about a billion Chinese.


Ch. 11: junior high, sort of integrated, but divisions persist, and so does racism.


Ch. 12: mom sells her novel, travel to Colombia, dad gets a job, which he sort of resents. Tension between social class and economic class here, education and income. In grad school we used to talk about “genteel poverty.”


Ch. 13: Jerome his new friend, and the “disco sucks” episode. Differences in dress and style at the assembly, 159.


Queen from the boom box (cf. Radio Rahim). What is Queen, anyway? What kind of music? They are white, and gay . . . but Conley feels that at least he’s part of some group.


14, addiction to video game; 15, Jerome gets shot, and Conley develops some obsessions.


16: Raphael and the fire. 198-201, the aftermath: they’re allowed to work things out informally, cf. the neighbor who gets 25 years for possession.


Ch. 17: high school—was his social awkwardness race, class, or me? (214).


The conclusion, 225-27: his commute, and questions of freedom and agency. How does it all add up? The anecdotal and the generalizable.


Perhaps one instance of generalizing: re larger issues and black/white differences:

The web site I found was  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. 

Quote from Conley on “equity inequity”: “This equity inequity is, in part, the result of the head start that whites have enjoyed in accumulating and passing on assets. Simply put, it takes money to make money. Whites not only earn more now, they have always earned more than African-Americans -- a lot more. Wealth differences, in turn, feed upon these long-term income differences. Some researchers estimate that up to 80 percent of lifetime wealth accumulation results from family gifts in one form or another passed down from generation to generation.

“These gifts range from a down payment on a first home to a free college education to a bequest upon the death of a parent. Over the long run, small initial differences in wealth holdings spin out of control. Estate and gift taxes are about the only social policies left that act as a small restraint on the runaway train of wealth inequality. Doing away with the estate tax would widen, not narrow, the gap between blacks and whites.”

This seems crucial to me: How much “equity inequity” have many of us inherited? I know that my parents made sure I got through school, helped us buy cars and houses, made loans that they later forgave. They’re still healthy, but I stand to inherit good farmland someday . . .

Some of these inheritances are tangible, some intangible. My kids have grown up with a sense that many things are available to them. They could choose to play sports, take music lessons, play instruments, go to camp. They could wander the town without much sense of danger. They had access to books and computers and libraries, and help when they needed to find or make something. . . . we worry about them getting into car crashes or making bad decisions, but we don’t worry about them catching stray bullets on the street.

The address to the website I found is: 

This article is found on Yale University's Homepage. It talks a little about Conley, who is now assistant professor of sociology and African-American studies at Yale. It mainly talks about his latest book, "Being Black, Living in the Red", which deals with the power of accumulated
wealth, which is the single most powerful determinant of class-based racial inequality in America. I looked up this article because I was interested in what the author was currently doing.
-Brian Steiner


The link above leads to an interesting article (on reparations for slavery) that I found online that I'm sure would cause a lot of controversy in class. It is kind of interesting and I can see arguments in both ways for it.

-Erin Wahl


Student Journals on Honky:

            The story of Dalton represents to me a story of the child who is continually uprooted through repeated moving throughout different regions of the country.  Yet, for Dalton, the moves come with changes in school, and not in a complete relocation of his family.  Every time Dalton seems to find his place, he is forced on to some new place, complete with a new set of diverse people.  At times, Dalton is able to “fake” his way into friendships, but I don’t really know that he has been able, thus far, to really find a place where he truly fits in. 

            When first encountering a middle class white school, Dalton begins to feel his own home is inadequate, even becoming ashamed.  For example, when he takes Michael to his home, and the trash is lined up along the street, Dalton begins to blame the tenants of the buildings, rather than the company that was to remove the garbage from the neighborhood.  “It was their fault that this place was a mess, I decided.  And then, as if it were the next logical step, I concluded that it was even their fault that they were poor” (Conley 87).  It is frightening how easily one is able to lose sight of blatant injustices.  Poverty certainly is not a way of life that is sought out by persons.  Yet, how does one explain the need for such a living status in the world’s wealthiest nation?

            In response to his own poverty and familial values, Dalton begins to spend his “mugging” and “emergency transportation” funds on candy and comic books that were previously unavailable to him.  These forbidden treasures exposed him to the power of the dollar.  After his stealing escapade, it is interesting to find that Dalton does not learn that stealing is wrong, per se.  Instead, he finds that “I could have just as easily have lied about the Reggie Bars as I had about the comic book” and more crucially that he would have been successful in his lie (Conley 97).  Thankfully, Dalton finds gainful employment instead of pursuing a lifestyle of deceit.  Yet, even this is ripped away from the boy, leaving him even more disgruntled with a world that puts value on worldly goods but does not allow a person to rightfully earn these items through honest work.  (This is not meant to imply that child labor laws are horrible.  In fact, they are quite admirable.  However, this event doesn’t help Dalton out much in his quest to belong.)  Its just odd how some programs end up harming those that were originally expected to reap the benefits...

 Some interesting facts/photos of places of child labor in the early 1900’s may be found at the following site:

Amy Simon

I really have enjoyed the readings for this class.  I found Honky to be a very gripping read, possibly because i felt a real connection with Dalton.  Like Dalton, i was raised in an inner city, where my family was the only white family on the block.  But unlike Dalton, my family moved, not just out of the city, but half-way across the country.  I could write a book myself on the culture shock a third-grade girl experiences moving from inner city philadelphia to a town of 1100 in southeast iowa (interesting tid-bit.  My school in philly had as many students as my new home had residents).  Since that move, i have rarely had to feel like a minority again.  But that 8 years or so had a profound impact on the way i view the world.

In some class i had last year, we were discussing the "diverse-ness" of bluffton.  A girl sitting near me said that she thought bluffton was a diverse place, because there were no black people in her town or school at all.  Though i must admit that bluffton is probably more diverse that my town, because of my experience in the city i knew that bluffton is anything but the epitome of diverse.

anyway, the book.  his book made me wonder a lot about what would have happened to me had we not moved.  Would i have been like Dalton and "escaped?"  Or would i have been sucked into the "dark side" of the city.  Some of his questions were about the impact his race had on his making it through school, or having opportunities in general.  They're such a fascinating questions, probably because they're unanswerable, though i would speculate that race plays a larger part in getting out of poverty than most people want to admit.  My parents were like Dalton's -- They kind-of (i say "kind-of" because money, jobs, etc played a large role, but still, both Dalton's parents and mine could have probably managed to live elsewhere) chose to live in a rough area of the city.  Most people who live in rough areas of cities don't chose to live there.  Most are born into poverty and have no chance to get out of it.  Attending crappy public schools that the government ignores, and having no basic job skills makes it practically impossible to get out of poverty.  Both Dalton and myself were lucky in that we didn't have to attend the local, run-down, ignored public schools.  I was sent to a Magnet school that, oddly enough, i was accepted into because they needed to meet their quota of white girl kindergartners.  My race definetly played a factor in which school i attended. 

  I could also identify with the conflict that Dalton faced of not fitting in.  It's quite a paradox -- Dalton didn't fit in at home because he was white, but when among whites, he didn't fit in because of where he lived.  Even now, after not living in the city for 12 years i find that people don't understand what i'm talking about when i talk of my time in philly.  

in sum, i found Dalton's analysis of his situation quite fascinating because of the parallels i could see in my own life.  Though he was never quite sure if his race was what gave him an advantage in life, he at least knew enough to question if it was.  That's something many who do not ever find themselves in the minority fail to ask of themselves.  Many just ignore the racial divide all around them.  How can people not wonder why there are no (or very few) blacks in blufftonor in any small town in the midwest?  What i appreciated most about honky was Dalton's questioning of society around him.  Though he could not answer conclusively any of these questions, he at least knew how important they were/are to ask. 

my website is shows the racial make-up of neighborhoods in cities all over the U.S.  Lima, OH is in it.  The "black" neighborhoods of lima still have more whites than blacks. 

-erin miller

I have been impressed by the book Honky. It deals with some of the very subject matter that I plan to address in my final paper on the Worth Center. It deals with issues of race and class exclusively. Dalton is white and living in New York city, where he is the minority. I find the principal of his school to be very interesting. He asks Daltons mother what class she would like him to be a part of. All they have is a black, Chinese and Hispanic classes. This is a public school and the principal seems shocked that they have a white child wanting to attend. Another aspect of Dalton’s class is that all the other black kids in his class are smacked on the knuckles for very small infractions of the rules. Dalton however does not receive this treatment. I think this reflects the issue of race. A black teacher does not feel comfortable hitting a white child, and so she doesn’t. I was also surprised by the fact that Dalton’s parents are so educated and live in the class t! hey do. It is usually associated education with class; the higher education the high class, but not in this case.

-David McMillen

I liked this book.  I liked how Dalton explained his views while still letting the reader see issues from the majorities view as well. I found similarities in our personalities and in the way we were raised by our parents. I can also relate to some of the feelings of inadequacy that Dalton felt.  I think that everyone goes through a stage in school when they are embarrassed by their parents or by where they live.  They think that everyone else's families and houses are great.  I never let anyone stay at my house until I was in the fourth grade.  I don't necessarily like the way that Michael's family felt about rearing their children.  I guess I saw the methods as uninformed.  I just don't think that Michael and his brother really respected their parents.  They knew that if they did something bad, all they had to do was confess to it and get a punishment.  After a while they are going to get to the point where they will do anything they want because they know that they will only be grounded or have their allowance taken away.  But Daltons mother never acted uninformed...she wanted to be aware of her children at all times.  She encouraged them to try new things, but made sure that they knew if they did something wrong they would get into trouble.  When he stole the candy bars, she made him take responsibility for his actions.   Like Dalton I was very confused by the owners story.  I decided that she believed that if someone were raised Jewish then they would not do anything against their religion. I even thought that maybe she felt that since he came back to the store to admit his guilt, she would spare him from the law like she was spared by the Nazi's.  But I still do not truly understand her point.  However, I do think that his little act of theft taught him the importance being honest and hard work which led him to get a job.  His mother reemphasized these ideals by helping him find another job.  I think that she was always proud of her son no matter what he did.


I think that Dalton and his father shared a very unique friendship.  They loved each other, but they seemed more like friends than father and son.  He and his father went to the track together.  His father did not ever really discipline Dalton either.  I know from one passage that when their father was forced to be the bad guy, he really smacked them.  But he was always the one they could "play with."  I will not say that he was a bad parent, but I don't think that he wanted to be involved the actual adult side of being a parent. His father never let the neighborhood get to him.  Even when it was really bad and scary, he never let it bother him.  He would focus on something else and let all the bad just kind of roll off him.  He knew that he could not change the chain of events so he learned to live with them.  I think that Dalton was like that as well.  On the bus, he didn't ignore the other kids when they started making jokes about his mother, but he did just watch them.  He said that he learned the power of silence.  He learned to let everything that was intimidating just fall away.  He figured that it was his turn on an unspoken list to be made fun of on that particular day.  I think that Dalton's quiet personality helped him get through life in the projects like it did for his father.  They saw the situation for what it was and just dealt with it.  They both knew that they would miss it when they left.

This website talks about types of parenting.  It applies to my response because it describes the types of parents that both Michael's parents and Dalton's parents are and how they treat the children.

-Amy Parks

            I must say that this is an interesting book.  I’m glad that no one is around when I’m reading it because there are moments when I burst out laughing.  I especially like all of the “yo momma” jokes.  It’s been a long time since I have heard many of those.  I think that was something we did in junior high. 

            A couple of the things that stuck out to me, was the part where he talks about money and what he had to do to buy some candy.  I thought it was cute the way his mom would give him mugger money.  Part of this is because of the time period, but I can’t even imagine a mugger accepting ten dollars and just leaving you alone.  Nowadays they’d take everything that you own and probably would end up with a cell phone, some credit cards and cash.

            Another thing I thought was neat was when he was talking about Pennsylvania and the family summer trips they would make.  Back then, the region of northeastern PA was known for factory outlets.  My sister attends Grove City College in GC, PA which is located in northeastern PA, just on the other side of the state from Youngstown approximately.  My parents and I just drove the three hours up there to visit her this past weekend.  One of the reasons my mom really likes to visit her, even though it’s farther than driving to Bluffton, is because they have a HUGE outlet mall right by the college.  It’s also nice because you don’t have to pay sales taxes there.  My aunt attended college there years ago and I know the outlet mall was there back then.  Of course, it’s a little updated now.  I wonder if the rest of northeastern PA is still the same way.  It’s interesting that it hasn’t changed much.

            The other part that stuck out to me is when he talked about his sister, Alexandra attending summer school in Pennsylvania.  The professor is talking about other countries and where people come from.  I have to admit that at first I laughed at the part when he said, China has one billion people.  You know what that means he asked them.  He told them that meant that there are two billion armpits and one billion assholes.  I thought that was really funny but then I felt badly because that’s a horrible thing to say.  I can’t even imagine what I would do or think if I had a professor that said that in class.  I can’t believe he was allowed to say those kinds of things.  And then the whole comment about everybody coming from Europe and even “spics” coming from Europe because they were from Spain was horrible too.  That’s definitely not something that you would hear today.  I don’t think many people would be able to get away with that without some consequences.


The web site I found has to do with antidisestablishmentarianism. I really wanted to know a good definition for it.  The first web site that I looked at simply said. Antidisestablishmentarianism, if you can’t spell it you’re a twit.  I’m still not sure what that had to do with anything.  But this web site provided some clue as to what the word meant.

-Sarah Parker

I am enjoying this book, it speaks volumes of what life is like in the inner city and the projects.  I dont think some people really know how tough life can get for the poor and this book describes violence, poverty, and racism.  It also describes not an adults view but a child's view of how life is while growing up in the face of poverty and violence.  I'm sure most of us at Bluffton have lived a more priviliged life then Dalton so reading his feelings and thoughts will hopefully help others and myself to not take for granted the lifestyle we all grew up in.  That's one of the important aspects of this book that I am grasping is just the way he is coping in the environment and making the most of everything.  I know that I haven't had to experience being afraid to walk in my own home or walk down the street let alone afraid to go to the bathroom at my school. I know there are many kids out there that endure a tougher life then i have experienced in my 21 years of living.  We sometimes think it is easy to break out of such a place but life in the lower half isn't as easy to break out of then what we think it is.  Dalton also has the privilige that at the time he doesn't really understand either and that is his race.  This is very evident at the first school he attends and isn't punished because of the race division. He encounters also the difference in fitting in with his white peers and minority peers.  He has to change his style and act like "whites" do when he goes to his new school but while in his first school he got to be more of himself and not have to impress people as much as he does with the new school.  The one part that jumped out at me was when they were on the playground and they were making a stand for which President they would vote for and for Ozan he made his stance and never backed down even in the face of getting free doughnuts - food.  For being an elementary school child that must have been hard for first not going with the crowd and second for turning down food.  I know it was in a young stage of his life but I think it really defined that child and his character, something Dalton didn't have.  Dalton all along wanting to fit in but never really because of his race and his class.  He also hits another cross-roads when he invites his friend Michael over and all along he is embarrassed of his home and where he lives.  When they first arrive Dalton wants to usher him quickly to his apartment but can't and this brings out more people from the projects who he doesn't want Michael to encounter and when they do encounter them it is Michael that outshows Dalton in his own territory.  It breaks down Dalton's own thinking about the people around him and this I think is another turning point in his life.

-Jeremy Nussbaum

Hi Jeff,

I wanted to begin my e-mail with this form of salutation because it is unheard of for students at home to simply address their professors with the fisrt name. This is forbidden even when American profesors or teachers encourage us to call them by their first name.


Why did i start with this statement? Society has certain aspect that we all hold precious whether we are white,yellow or black or any ohter call that we

use to differenciate our color.In this case we learnt to refer to our professors as " Professor or Dr".so and so regardless of their color.Here social hierarchy and the boundaries between students and instructor are difficult and hard to cross. This is without a doubt what Conley was experiencing as he moved from one school to another.Evenn though he was white in a black, hispanic, chinese community there was a thread that held them together yet apart.As noted by this quote, " Each tag or piece of graffiti is either a welcome or a warning, spelling out messages of idnetity that were legible only to those in the know" ( Page 22)Living in one community brought him to see the difference that he had with the other whom were regarded as inferior yet he felt part of them ( the "know" especially with the Hawk incidence and the vist that Michael had in his neighborhood)and yet different when he related with the other white rich and kid.He was a minority yet superior in one community, but at the same time he was white like Michael and the other white kids in the Greenwich Village yet class differences did not spear him. Either ways the social network was not on his end of the spectrum. Every where he went, the differences between him and project children as well as other Greenwich friends he had were very profound.He may never harbor the notion of race, but his paradigm of the world was shaped by the fact that there is always a "us" and "them". People will aways try to put racial ideals behind them and forgive and forget racism, but there are still black and white aspect of certain places that reveal that this is still there, time is what will tell what will become of this, it may heal wounds or coat them with more germs unless they are attended to.( This is Africa rhetorics, i hope it makes sense). In this book what i enjoyed most is the tone used by the author, he is very realistic about the situation since he has interacted with both minority and white and experiencing the pros and cons of both, he is very optimistic about racial and so AMI but, i wonder how many Americas still belief that there are hard questions about racism that need to be addressed and will remain as wounds as long as they are ignored.Many may want to belief that racism and other social disorder are well old-fashioned but being a person from a different culture, as much as i harbor no notions of racism, each day, i have become conscious of the fact that I am black, something that is novel to me.What made me realize this, the way ( Americans) relate with each other.I hold no grudge with ( Americans or for this matter, any other person with a color different from me, for i have never, experience racial differences until i left Africa.( There maybe racial differences but I never experienced them even when i crossed borders into Kenya, a new culture).When i went to Asia once again, i was made conscious about my color during numerous occasions, and this has made me view racism and social networks from a different perspective.I have no problem with all people regardless of their color but i have learnt to understand that differencies in color run deep,in this society and I am conscious of who I am each day and this is what sets me apart from others.I never wanted to be cautious and feel different from others,but social networks spells that i be aware of this.Sad as it may appear, this is the reality we must live with, we want to belief that we are all the same, yet there is always something that sets us apart. Racism as well as other forms or differences are here to stay it is how we held them that really matter.We can learn from them and be aware of who we are but we cah hold on to them an be bitter ( which is a phenomenon harbor by most African Americans) or deny it as most well Bluffton students want to. The choice we make determines our reaction to this and other social moral values that hold the society together or tear it apart.


The Webpage that i chose is based on a life interview with Dalton Conley concerning this book and how he viewed racial as well as other aspect of American society as written in this book.His response to this questions are very realistic,which make a difference as I read the book.Especially the tone which I found interesting to detect and describe.


I am sorry that this was a rather long response,I had personal experiences with what Conley went though and this made it easier from me to see the two world that he was torn was living in.


-Mary Akuch Riak


This is not only a book about race and class, but also about what it means to fit in and how children find acceptance.  Conley does a find job of showing how the different subcultures, whether at his new or old school, have different requisites for being accepted by peers.


To tell you the truth, reading the first two-thirds of "Honky" really brought back a lot of memories for me.  My first memories are from living in Mexicali as a kid.  My sister and I would intermingle with the other kids without much care for distinctions of class or race, much like Dalton at an early age.  When we moved back to the states and I eventually returned to Mexicali for multiple summers, I easily detected the distinctions I had missed as a child.  The poverty in Mexico is immense.  The culture is a lot different too.  I found that being a white American in my returning trips made me appear different in the eyes of the Mexicans there.  People presumed I had money, and that I was gullible and unknowledgable about the culture, even though I knew quite a bit and am lowerclass by American standards (I'm here at BC on scholarship and grace, not my parents).  However, in the Mexican church services a miraculous thing would happen.  The petty distinctions of class and race and culture seemed to be overshadowed by the brotherhood of Christ.  Among the Mexican Christians, though we were still different, there was an intense unity that linked us.  I wonder if Dalton had grown up in a religious community he might have still felt such a misfit all the time.  After all, in Christ there is neither slave nor free, neither Jew nor gentile (See Romans).


Dalton's duality I found particularly interesting when he began at school 41 with the preppies.  He would have to adjust his speech and attitudes every time he switched between the two areas.  My friend Joe used to live in a black suburban area in Toledo.  It would always amaze me that whenever Joe's African American friend, Josh, came over.  Joe would suddenly start speaking and acting differently.  I observed that much of Joe and Josh's friendship was based on competition, "snaps", and sports while our friendship was centered around nerdy hobbies and religion.  When Josh left, Joe would become 'white' again in his mannerism so to speak.  I think that when you live as a minority in an area, you must learn both your ethnic and geographic subculture in order to find acceptance.  I think this is what both Dalton and Joe had to do.


The story about the karate expert also interested me.  As a kid, I would take karate lessons in a group called "Karate for Christ" in downtown Toledo.  The point was to evangelize by breaking boards and blocks at shows as well as to learn to defend yourself.  One day some of the upper level students were attacked by some hoods just because they knew they were karate students.  I think that in underdeveloped places, attempting to define yourself as 'tough' or even able to defend yourself marks yourself for a challenge.  However, violence is not always the best resort.  When I was mugged once while walking back from the mall in Toledo, I pondered using my skills to fight back, but instinctively gave up the money instead for fear of firearms.  I think that like in the "knife incident" that Dalton faces, he learns that the best way to escape an attack is simply to not to let the situation become anymore of 'challenge' to the goons than it already is. Oh, and I think I could've taken 'em. :)


I also had a friend who lived on the east side of town.  He would tell me stories about gangs and 'the way things were' in the inner city.  Unlike my friend Joe, he lived in a mixed community, but the rules were still the

same: life is a competition and you have to be quick and smart to survive. When I came to Bowling Green, fitting in changed much more to what you know and what you can do than being the biggest or the baddest or the most street-wise.  Similarly for Dalton when he changes schools, he must learn to find new ways of being accepted, not by sharp tongue and wits, but by feigning intellectual equality.


That's enough about me.  In any case, I think that Honky is a long search for Dalton to find himself in a culture of distinct subcultures.  It is his search to find a balance between where he lives and where he goes to school and where he has friends.  At times he enjoys a paradox of being both rejected and priviledged for being white.  I think he also feels rejected and accepted for being poor by the different competing subcultures in his life, though for him there is a way out to overcome his class if he chooses. All in all this is a good read.




 Samuel Shepard


Some pretty good advice here:


            I am very embarrassed to have to read a book with the title Honky.  I was in a hospital waiting room and was reading it while sitting next to two black women.  When I turned the book over for a second and revealed the cover they looked at it and then looked at me.  They didn’t know I was reading it for class and probably thought that I was racist.  I was really embarrassed and hurriedly turned the book over again and started reading it. 

            It was interesting to read about the different schools throughout Dalton’s life.  Starting off at elementary school where the principal didn’t have a class to put him in because no other white people went to that school.  When he then commuted to the Village with the other white people and his experiences with class. How all of the children there where rich and once again he had to change and try to fit in.  And then finally in junior high when they both combined and Dalton really found out who he was because he hung out with the black people instead of the whites.       

It amazed me at how much racism was shown back then but then I realized that things really haven’t changed all that much.  The laws have but people’s characteristics have not.  For example in the book how the students are supposed to gather in the auditorium to vote on music and how they black people sat on one side of the room and the white people on the other.  This is still usually true today.  If you look in Marbeck at lunch you will see all of the black people sitting together mostly.  This was also true in my high school.  Racism is still very prevalent today even in jobs such as policemen and judges in which there should be no prejudices.  I also thought that it was ironic that the black people accepted Dalton.  If you think of it the other way and if one black family lived in your neighborhood their children would never have friends.  White people are more evil than black people when it comes to that.  Black people are more accepting it seems.  The website talks about still today how much racism there still is.  Just because there are laws in place now it does not mean that people’s attitudes have changed, that will take a long time. 

Stephanie Rush


Honky is a very easy book to read not unlike The Color Purple.  Both books

deal with race issues which I have become rather intrigued by in my time in

this class.  I can see a lot of parallels between this book and my own life.

  My parents also made bad choices which caused me to have to grow up in a

black neighborhood.   Before anything else the part that made me cry was on

page 33.  Being an artist I appreciate art of all sorts.  When this young

man’s dad had to tear off paintings of Korean impressions of WW2 because the

canvas underneath was more valuable touched me deeply.  Other parallels are

that I am an artist and my girlfriend is a writer.  I hope that we don’t end

up in the projects of some large city.  But an artist and a writer can

easily end up in the poorhouse.  The fact that they had the opportunity to

live in SoHo at its heyday of artistic expression and did not choose this

amazes me.   Another part of the book that I found fascinating was how

children and adults view race.  Because the young man in this story was

unaware of race as a child it is easily seen that racism is a learned trait.

  This book kind of turns our popular view of how the world is on its ear. 

It is showing that in the land of white majority there are often times when

white people end up being the minority in a small pond.  This book deals

well with how white majority people have to deal with being the minorities. 

They have to try and fit in and assimilate into the community.  I love how

this book shows the follies of the white family.  This book can be turned

around and made to look at different views.  The black minority in the

United States is often criticized for not assimilating.  This can be seen as

no easier of a task than the white family assimilating into the smaller

black community.  I also thought that this book showed that even with the

saturation of the black culture on a small white family they still kept many

of the traditional white ideas.  Thus, I think this book just being written

shows that white people, even growing up impoverished; still have a step

above their black counterparts.

      Tim Boldman

This by far is my favorite book we have read this semester, but I am glad to say it is the last one.  It was hard to find time to do all the extra reading, but without taking this class I would have never read some of the most educational books I have ever read my whole life so far. 

I liked that this book, during the whole book, there was a since of clearity and understanding that he was trying to define how he felt and learned about race.  At the beginning of the book I thought is was so funny that he didn't understand that he was different, that he was white not black.  He had never seen any other type of neighborhood that had people his color living there.  That just seemed so bizarre to me.  But then I had went home last weekend and was reading this book saturday morning, my mom asked me what I was reading probably wondering by the title.  I explained to her what the book was about.  And she said that when my brother and I were little, just after we moved back from California had asked her why there weren't any squinty eyed people at our new school.  She said that was when she first realized how innocent a child's beliefs are.  They believe what they see and have a strong feeling that what they see in life is the same in every place.  I don't not remember asking her that question, but I do remember the first time I was aloud to ride my bike around the block, and that was when we moved to my hometown from California.  In California my mom wouldn't even allow us to walk to the bus stop at the end of the street, she would drive us and we would wait in the car, and our grandmother would be there to pick us up when the bus dropped us off.  That is something I vaguely remember.  So I could relate with how Dalton felt as a child growing up in a confined apartment building.  What I didn't find a little upsetting was the fact that as a little boy he would see used syringes and condoms.  Even if he wasn't quite sure what it was, it's the fact that children that age are exposed to those kind of things.  But again I come from a small town, and had no clue what a syringe or a condom was until I was 14 or 15 years old.  That is when my Health class teacher informed us what a condom was and how to use one.  Most of us girls were so grosed out and the boys were totally embarrased.  It wasn't until then that I even got the sex talk from my parents.  A lot of people wonder why teens are so sexually active and why they are so well educated in that area, if things like that were being showed back then, it is scary to think about what young kids are finding in today's society. 

Another part that touched me, was when he was cleaning his neighborhood up when he would walk to and from the bus stop.  It is so weird that a kid his age would noticed how dirty his neighborhood is.  I was to busy playing and riding my bike to be ashamed of my neighborhood, but yet I never liked in a neighborhood that poor.  I just think it is so amazing that people who grow up in different regions and different neighborhoods experience their childhood so differently.  I thought the fact that at the end of his book his best friend was black, Jerome.  He wanted to be white so bad and belong to the white class so bad, but at the end of the book he is best friends with a black kid.  They get very close spending many nights together, buying a sweatshirt together, and Jerome even lies to Sean, the bully, for Dalton.  When he doesn't want to ride on the back of the bus because he made an agreement with his mother and she said she would pay him if he didn't ride the back of the bus.  When Sean asked them why they didn't, Jerome came up with the quick excuse that they took off because the bus driver said he was going to have them arrested.  That saved Dalton from getting made fun of even more.  This Sean kid had already attempted to kill Dalton with a switch blade. 

I really enjoyed this book better than the rest. Here is a website I found interesting being a social worker and being concerned about minorities and people who need help finding affordable housing. . This website explains Bush's promise to make more affordable housing to minorities.

-Melissa VanAusdal

One thing that is apparant in the book, which is basically one of the themes, is the social inequalities. I guess i know that this type of stuff goes on, but it still makes me sad, because we are American's and we are supposed to be striving for equality. Every man/woman despite race and class, are supposed to be equal and have the same rights as everybody else. I guess the event where it really became apparant was when Raphael's house was burned. The statement that Dalton says really struck me and made me think. He says, "The fire taught me one of the most subtle but powerful privileges of middle-class status: the chance to work problems out informally, without the interference of the authorities. Poor minorities get no such allowances. But we were lucky-for Raphael's family represented the right class and I the right race." This unfortunately seems to be true, even in today's society. It seems to me that as far as we've come from slavery and other things, we should really treat everybody with the same standards. But people still get more suspicious when African-Americans are involved in something, then if it were just whites. And alot of the times different races and lower class American's don't get the opportunities that other do. I also thought it was interesting that even with this difference, that Dalton apparantly recognized at his young age, he still hung out with people of different race then him. He knew he was different but he said that he desperately wanted to fit in with the black people, or their group. Maybe he really liked hanging out with those guys, or maybe he just needed somewhere to fit in, with people that accepted him.

My first response to this reading is that I found it kind of surprising how much the father resisted moving out of the old neighborhood. My initial thought was that he'd agree with his wife and want to move to a safer neighborhood for the good of the family. But I guess you really do get 
somewhat attached to a place if you've lived there for a long time. Even in an old, worn down neighborhood that isn't the safest, it can still be hard to leave a place if that's all you've ever known.

Another thing I found interesting was what Dalton said on pages 192-193, about how at least in his old neighborhood he had his skin color to blame for not fitting in. He finally realizes, or at least accepts, that maybe the problem isn't his own skin color but that the real problem lies
within himself. I think that is sometimes the problem with many people. People often will use some sort of excuse when they don't fit in, such as skin color, instead of accepting that maybe the real problem is their own attitude and pre-conceived ideas.

The address to the website I found is: 

This article is found on Yale University's Homepage. It talks a little about Conley, who is now assistant professor of sociology and African-American studies at Yale. It mainly talks about his latest book, "Being Black, Living in the Red", which deals with the power of accumulated
wealth, which is the single most powerful determinant of class-based racial inequality in America. I looked up this article because I was interested in what the author was currently doing.
-Brian Steiner


The link above leads to an interesting article (on reparations for slavery) that I found online that I'm sure would cause a lot of controversy in class. It is kind of interesting and I can see arguments in both ways for it.


As for Honky, it got better as it went on. I wasn't too impressed at the beginning but needless to say that changed. I had never thought about how it would feel to be a white minority in a neighborhood consisting mainly of hispanic and african American individuals, it certainly illustrated an interesting perspective. Also, knowing little of the "big city" life it was nice to get a slice of that in with the book. I still wonder exactly WHY it took them so long to move out of the neighborhood when they realized it was getting worse. If it had been me I would've had my family out of there as quick as possible. I really don't know exactly what I want to say about this book, especially trying to send this in as fast as I can. I guess maybe I was just so amazed to find out what his life was actually like. If it was me I would never have been as mean as the other children were to him as a minority, but then I do come from a town only slightly bigger than Bluffton so I am used to making friends with lots of people. But if a town is bigger or smaller does that make it more or less tolerant? I think that is a good question.

-Erin Wahl


      Chapter nine, “Sesame Street,” was an interesting one.  The setting is

Hamilton Fish Park, behind the building where Dalton lived.  Dalton joined a

game of pickup baseball, and some of the guys formed a gang, whose leader

was Sean (a boy who had appeared on Sesame Street).

        I enjoyed Dalton’s style of writing.  First he told a story about

his past, and then he analyzed the experience in retrospect.  It is in this

analysis where interesting points are made.  The following is one.

        Dalton wrote, “Only later would I realize that, given the racial

geography of my childhood, it is surprising how little actual violence I

encountered.  I can’t imagine that a black kid growing up in a poor white

neighborhood would have gotten off so lightly” (109-110).  It seems Dalton

speculates about the power of lighter skin.  Sean let him go at the mere

sound of a cop siren; maybe if Dalton were a poor black kid having been

threatened by poor white kids in their neighborhood, would he have been

killed.  This is very possible because policemen in cars were (or maybe are

still) often assumed to be white.  In a racist society, that assumption upon

hearing a cop siren could deter a black kid’s lethal hand, but the same

assumption could make a white kid’s lethal hand simply hesitate while the

owner thinks, “The cops will think I was defending myself.”  Dalton

continued with thankfulness he had not been accepted by Sean and his group

because he may have missed out on the life he now has.  Though he is unsure

about the exact causes of his life-path, he claims he can believe what he

wants because of the advantage of being middle class.  Specifically, Dalton

wrote, “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”




The following website is the homepage of World Conference Against Racism,

and one proposal they make is that racism is on the rise, one place being

the United States:





Jacob Goin



At first I thought that it was unfair that my group always got to write responses on the whole book. I di not think that as I read "Honky", my opinion will change. I came to believe that to really understand this book, you have to read all of it word after word without skipping anything. Almost every sentence seems to be important, seems to hold some sense and some meaning.

The biggest thing that I noticed this book talking about was people from different races and how a person comes to understanding races and to ignoring different skin colors. Think about it, at first he was in school where he was a minority, but he was treated better, than he was in another school where he was a minority. He got so used to that feeling that it was strange for him  to be in school where whites were a majority.

It is imprtant how Dalton makes friends in all those schools and how only after he looses them he realises how important it is to have them.

I think, his mother was a very important person in his life. her strategies were very interesting. I think I also believe in them. If Dalton did something wrong, she didn't yell at himm, she didn't hit him, she just asked: "Why?" I don't think any person would be able to feel comfortable after such question. I don't think that anyone would do again whatever he/she's done. At the same time it seems that at the end his mother became more distant. He calls her Ellen more and more often instead of using the word "mother".

Interesting part was the story about closes and labels. I can relate to that story. I understand how important it is to have nice cloth when you are 12-18. You just feel better about yourself, you feel mmore confident.

There was one sentense that, I think, I will remember for the rest of my life: "Many different races don't always mean diversity". This is so true!

I was very happy that finally he got to the stage where the races and social classes did not matter. That's teh way the society should be.  It is like author is saying that no matter what is our color of the skin, no matter if we are rich and poor, we can all live in peace and we can all be friends, because we are all PEOPLE!

-Galina Terbova

Hey Jeff, from my section I feel the two most important aspects of what I read actually occured about 8 pages from each other.

     First, on pages 95-98, as he tells the story of his theft, to quench his thirst for status, I thought that was interesting, but what I found most fascinating was that on page 98, when he said, "they were only trying to coax out the goodness at my moral core, but the truth was I continued to lie, at least withholding information about an item I stole that was more valuable than the Reggie bars. I really feel this can be applied tomany different aspects of American life. Many times in human nature when we feel power, we may spare our ethical feelings, or in the very least just pick up the line we cannot cross, and move it further left or right.

      The other portion of this story I found interesting occured when Dalton was talking about how interaction on his Little League and sports activities in general had reduced the racial and at times "status" barriers. And of course I cannot remember the philosopher who said you can "learn more about a man in a hour of play than a life-time of watching him." Quite simply many times in play time or sports racism can vanish because while out on the playing field, everybody is united in the same goals, to win. These are central desires that cannot only be defined but ethnicity.


Well, thats all I got, see you tomorrow.


Garrett Skare


The process that Dalton takes to to seeing and understanding what racism is and how it applys to him is interesting to me.  It seems to be a long process for him.  I've always been facinated by the city and the whole book is about how Dalton learns to survive in the city- in an all black part of town.  Kids have to develop survival skills that I would never have thought of- for example hitting the ground when you hear a gun shot and hiding some muggers cash in your shoes.  I think I would probably be much like his mother if I were raising kids in a part of the city like that.  She was strict and she taught them to be wise about things. Living in the city is like living in a whole different part of the world.  When I imagine going to the city, I imagine going to the main streets, the shops, the restaurants, and the theaters.  And even that part of the city is completely different that what Dalton lived in.  Dalton and his sister didn't like going to the country because they didn't know how to live there.  It also struck me when Dalton talked about the sign in PA that says "Welcome to PA, Where America Starts."  Dalton said that living in PA was like no America that he knew of.

Throughout the book Dalton develops these tics.  It is his body's way of coping the the stress that he is under.  They start in Mini School when he isn't fitting into a particular class and then he develops them after Jerome is shot.  It seems to me that he after the Jerome incident he develops obsessive compulsive disorder.  It is something that you are fanatic about doing- it becomes a necessity of life and consumes more than an hour of your day .  Dalton has to do everything equally- a sign of this disorder.

Another thing that struck me was how the black kids could call themselves "nigga" but if Dalton said it to his friends he would suffer some sort of repercussion.  I don't understand why the black kids would call themselves that anyway because it seems to be such a negative word to me- but maybe it isn't only if they use it. It seems like many times in this book there is racism towards Dalton- probably because he is the minority.  I get so frustrated when talking about racism because it always seems to be present even when you don't think about or when you try not to be racist.  Sometimes I wonder if we just take it too far.  And sometimes I wonder if we dwell on it too much.  I don't think it is good to not talk about it, because you don't want to be completely uninformed.  But sometimes I think simple little situations can get turned completely into big ones because someone understands it to be racist.  I could see myself in that situation where I did something completely innocent, but someone takes it the wrong way.  I'd feel aweful about it because I don't think that I am racist at all...and I definately don't want to be.  Some people say that you are racist even when you don't think that you are, and that bothers me.  All of this happens when people segregate themselves into the groups that they feel most comfortable hanging out with- nobody takes the time to get to know the other group.  If you set yourself apart and want to be seen as a particular group, then how can you expect yourself to be automatically part of another group?  This is all confusing and frustrating to me.

Rebecca Yoder