No Honkies Until Cars Came

White people have been white a long, long, loooonggg time. While black people, we have been evolving. Shanequa just arrived. Those of us who remember the book Roots by Alex Haley, do remember the young boy named Kunta Kinte who refused to be called Toby. It took the removal of his foot with a hatchet to convince him of his new name.

What should we be called? Nigra, negro, negress, ni**er, black, colored, brown skinned, high yellow, quadroon, octaroon, African, mullato, jigaboo, darkie, mixed breed are amongst the choices. Then there was always ‘BOY!” We have been recently elevated to African American. It took us almost 400 years to be considered American and there is still the struggle.

I grew up being called these names or at least hearing my relatives friends and neighbors called these names. We have had an identity crisis because we never knew what would society call us.

White people have been white a long, long, long time. There was no official term ‘honky, or cracker’. Those were completely pejorative words. No one ever had to put those names on an official document. There were no honkies before there were cars. More about that later.

Except for the what is now a dreaded ‘N’ word (only dreaded when socially convenient), the others mentioned were all fair game when applying for a job, a license, a voter ID or birth certificate.

It is impossible for white people to understand being anything other than white. Oh yes they may be European or the like…, but they are still white.

When the white immigrant or indentured servant such as the Irish, or Italian would escape from their captors they could hide in the woods and emerge on the other side as German or British. Of course they had to hide their accent or feign ignorance. But Africans did not have that as an option. They would go into hiding and emerge as still a person of darker hue than anyone else around them. Should their pursuers decide to do so, they would not have to recognize the Manumission papers they carried (freedom papers), and could return them to their owners or the highest bidder.

The name honky has it’s origin with the arrival of automobiles. There were no honkies before there were cars. White men could cruise black towns, neighborhoods or farms to fulfill their libidos and lust. In the event that they found what they wanted, they would honk their horns. A black child for instance could look out the window of his family’s shack and announce; ‘the honkey is here’. At that point the woman, his mother, sister, auntie or grandmother, was obligated to go out and fulfill her duty. The man of the home had no option but to let it happen. Cracker of course was derived from the sound of the whip that would crack upon the back of the men, women and children enslaved.

The desire for an ethnic identity has not been something to trouble them. One drop of African blood put you in one of these multiple mixed-race categories.

We had to accept names, not pick them. We did not have the luxury of choosing.

So when a black man was given a name by his master, his only responses could be ‘yes sir, or no sir’.

In the 1950’s and 60’s, we were told to throw off our slave names and take on African names.

Back in the Jim Crow and civil rights era, black men would refuse to take on first names because they were tired of being called by their first names, while they had to address white men by their last names. So you had a lot of TJ’s and JW’s instead of Tommy Joes and Johnny Williams born in that era. We were tired of having our names chosen then abused.

We knew little about Africa except for the emerging leaders, most of whom were murdered or exiled when they stood up against colonial powers. So we started to invent names. Hence, Takeesha was born along with Moneesha.

When we got the luxury to chose, we did . After all, who is Shaniqua? Where did Daquan come from?

We have been a lot of things in America. Talk about confusion.

White has always been white. They have been white for a long time Shanequa just arrived